With over 15 years of International and Domestic experience in the Hospitality Industry, Jacqui Cooks has taken a decidedly different step in the digital direction as a “Twitvangelist” and Social Media Addict. This thirty-something year old travel junkie & foodie, proudly South African chick has a strong desire to help others. Read our interview with the lovely Jacqui below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
- A strong desire to help people, particularly women starting out in business
- My passion for travel
Working in the corporate world or for someone else does not always afford one the flexibility or freedom of helping others nor travel. These are two of my driving forces. Working for myself allows me the flexibility to balance these two great loves of mine. Authenticity and discipline are key! When working for a boss, one has to adhere to their guidelines and policies. Working for myself, I am able to work according to my values without compromising the level of service or my integrity.
Tell us about your business.
I have 2 businesses:
1) My Travel Blog, The Jax Blog where I share anything/everything travel related. I have also partnered with some great travel brands such as TravelStart.co.za to bring my readers the best travel deals! I work with selected travel brands in marketing awesome new destinations or restaurants that I feel my readers will enjoy.
2) The Jax Inc – My Social Media Marketing Consultancy. I train people how to market themselves effectively on social media through workshops, one-on-one consulting and campaign management. I feel very strongly about empowering people, particularly women entrepreneurs; with the basic skills to market themselves online.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
I’m currently offering a FREE Digital Marketing seminar in Cape Town, South Africa. To attend this FREE talk please register here. I am looking at offering some online digital courses in the future, so do keep an eye out on my Facebook page: The Jax Inc.
- Backpacked through Europe financed by myself at the age of 21 and then moved to the USA on my own (this was a major accomplishment for a fresh faced 19 year old who left home to traverse the globe on her own dime straight after high school).
- Diploma in Drama from AADA (American Academy of Dramatic Arts)
- Starred in a BBC Documentary: The Lost City of Atlantis
- Sales Management Certification
- Marketing Certification
- Sales Manager of the Year of Sun International
- Sellhard Western Cape: Best Salesperson in the Western Cape Reality TV Show Season 1 winner
- Speaker at the ETAS (East African E-Tourism Summit)
- Hubspot Inbound Certification
Where is your business based?
Cape Town, South Africa.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I created awareness of my workshops through my social media platforms, and I created my website. So I’d say just putting myself out there.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Word of mouth and social media marketing.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
People not wanting to pay for my services as they do not understand the value thereof.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Educating people through my FREE talk as to why we need digital marketers and what their role is in advertising/marketing. I also realized that my if I want to assist entrepreneurs with digital skills, I would need to relook at my social media payment model without having them break the bank.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
Honestly, I pray… a lot! I also lean on fellow industry colleagues for insight on how to improve and for support.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I strongly believe in authenticity and integrity. So my being completely brutally honest with my clients at all times even when I’m wrong is what sets me apart. The customer is not always right, but neither am I. Growing and maintaining healthy client relationships through honesty, fosters trust and not only repeat business but lifelong friendships.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Don’t give up! My new favorite saying: “Work, Pray, Slay!”
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
- If you have a dream or passion, just do it! Whether you succeed or fail at least at the end of your life you can safely say you tried. No what if’s, no regrets.
- Also make sure you have a really strong support system of friends and family you can lean into when times are tough. Going it alone can be emotionally and spiritually draining, besides the obvious physical exhaustion.
- Never think you have to do it all on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Even if it is a simple prayer to God and no one else. Ask and you shall receive.
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
Wow I have so many. But I’d say my number one tool that saves me a lot of time is Buffer scheduling app. It helps me to schedule my articles and posts on all of my social media platforms from one place, thus saving me a ton of time.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Hashtags #thejaxblog #StopDreamingStartTravelling #LearnWithTheJax
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I’m currently reading two great books. “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg and “Sisterhood” by Bobbie Houston. Both speak of women in leadership.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I’m constantly feeding my mind with the latest trends in digital and travel. A deeper understanding of Google analytics and Adwords is on the cards at the moment. An intern would be most welcome at present. This can even be a virtual assistant. I simply don’t have enough hands or hours in the day to do it all and I would love to afford a young person starting out in this field some hands on experience through assisting me with my day-to-day admin tasks.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
Currently working on an amazing Social Media Marketing workshop for South Africans. However, my heart lies with empowering women so I am working on a top secret program for young ladies. Lastly, I would love to write a book, but that is something in the pipeline.