Digital marketing is a form of communication that revolves around a growing number of platforms. The growth of digital marketing has been rapid over the past couple of years. Among the expert leaders in this space are women.
To date, women have been making waves in digital marketing and there is still room to empower women venturing into and growing in this industry.
We spoke with Sonia Shah, a digital marketing professional and founder of Beyond The Image to hear about her journey towards becoming an expert.
where it all began
Fine art is a talent that came naturally to Sonia Shah. When she thinks back to her younger years, she recalls having a natural inclination to art. She knew she wanted to potentially pursue a career that was intertwined to this, preferably in the creative space.
And so it was no surprise that she enrolled at Loughborough University to study graphic design and illustration. Four years later, with her degree in hand, Sonia was off to the world of work.
She started off as a graphic design intern for a few months before transitioning into the hospitality industry, taking on a managerial role at one of Nairobi’s newest hotels in 2014.
gaining mastery in different fields
She dabbled in the hospitality space, then took a deep dive into real estate, before finally finding her comfort in marketing. All these experiences were necessary for her growth, shaping her for her future in business.
She shares, “Throughout my time in different roles, I learned (and still continue to) that as a woman you really need to fight to have your voice heard and to have your opinions matter.”
This however helped her build her resilience and gave her the desire to have her own business.
“I wanted to make money for myself, and not for someone else. I wanted to answer to myself. Working in different industries helped me understand how systems work and therefore I wouldn’t be limited in the clients I would take on when I started my business.”
Her enthusiasm towards starting her own business was one thing, but she knew she needed to be strategic.
Still, that didn’t go as planned either!
becoming a professional in digital marketing
Sonia found herself leaving employment abruptly with no back up plan or anything lined up. It may have been a bleak moment, but she soon found hope through her family as well as her network.
“I was actually terrified and also concerned about finances. But my family was really there for me. They told me that I don’t really need anything financially to start up as I can work from home.”
Equipped with a laptop already installed with design software, Sonia was almost ready to get the ball rolling. Sharing her idea with people around her amplified her confidence, and her long time friend also jumped on board and became her business partner.
“A number of the clients I had worked with when I was employed kept telling me that I am amazing at what I do and should start my own company. The support really helped me gain my confidence to start off. ”
In 2019 Sonia started Beyond The Image, a digital marketing company that helps brands create engaging content that helps market their brand and moves clients down the sales funnel to finally make a purchase. In her words: “We help clients reach their goals and objectives through social media marketing.”
lessons learned from digital marketing
Growing a business has not been easy. She’s experienced setbacks, some of which she has overcome and others she has learned from.
But the heart of her business is the transformation journey she takes her clients through.
In an era where digital marketing is gaining momentum, a lot of brands still don’t know the basics to put them on the right track.
“People don’t want to spend enough money on good content creators yet they want good content. Not everyone has experience with targeted ads and so doesn’t look into depth with each customer’s target audience.”
The reality is, being able to create creative, engaging content and actually reach the right audience requires investment in professionals. Beyond The Image exists to ensure all their clients get results from their investment.
As a woman in business, Sonia has seen her fair share of gender biases in the digital marketing space.
While there are several women making meaningful impact in this industry, the occasional gender power-play appears.
From such situations she has mastered the power of confidence. “Make sure you are heard. Speak out and stand for what you know is right.”
This year Sonia made her own investment for her business by enrolling for Simplicity, the Step & Stone business accelerator. She’s grasping the necessary business skills that will elevate her business and move it in the direction she intends for it.
over to you
Can you relate with Sonia’s journey? Or are you a woman in marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments.