Roxana Elliott is the Vice President, Marketing and Content, at GeoPoll. She leads the marketing team and oversees the internal content generation and communications. In this interview, Roxana speaks to Frankline Kibuacha about her career journey, her work at GeoPoll, and what it takes to be a successful marketer.
Frankline: Tell me about your background before you came to GeoPoll.
Roxana: I have always worked in marketing and communications with an international focus – my first job after university was with Al Jazeera English’s communications team during the Arab Spring. It was an intense time as Al Jazeera was in the spotlight more than they had been before. I have always had an affinity for media, writing, and international events, probably because I come from a family of journalists – I feel like it’s in my blood!
After Al Jazeera, I went to grad school for communications and technology, which led me to join GeoPoll initially at the beginning of 2014.
You mentioned initially. Does that mean you left and came back to GeoPoll?
Yes (laughs). When I first joined GeoPoll, the company was still relatively young. I was the only communications person and worked on everything from the blog to design to social media, and the website. After a couple of years, I left to try out an even more technology-oriented company, but I missed the range of impactful work that GeoPoll does, so when that job didn’t work out I tried freelancing for a bit and then eventually I came back to GeoPoll to lead and grow our marketing efforts.
What is the role of marketing at GeoPoll, and how does it compare with the other places you have worked in?
Marketing at GeoPoll is unique because we are a research company and can produce a lot of our own content, such as the reports that we run on topics from the viewership of the Africa Cup of Nations to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Marketing is one of the smaller teams at GeoPoll but an essential part of the company, significantly impacting how it is perceived.
We are like a news company producing original content on essential global and local topics that, many times, influence crucial discussions in the media and among decision-makers. We also work in several sectors, which, for marketing, means many different audiences to address. It’s a challenge that I love.
You have been part of many exciting marketing research projects. Is there one that stands out for you?
We have done several interesting studies in the past, but it’s hard not to say the COVID-19 studies in 2020 were some of the most monumental. It’s been so vital and exciting to reliably inform the world on the impact of the pandemic in Africa. One that stands out for me is the Economic Impact of Coronavirus in Africa that we released in July 2020. We found that many people were negatively impacted financially by the restrictions governments were putting in place to fight the pandemic, and had fascinating insights on informal workers and how they are being impacted even more than others by the pandemic.
I can feel from your tone that you are very passionate about what you do and what GeoPoll does. What do you think is the outlook for GeoPoll’s near future?
Our goal is to keep growing, delivering quality services for our clients, and expanding the sectors and countries we work in. I am excited about the technology innovation that our team keeps developing, such as the new App that we recently released.
As has been the norm in the years that I have been at GeoPoll, I see the company continuing to shape how research is done, particularly in the emerging regions.
How do you think the Marketing function within GeoPoll and the research industry is going to change?
Marketing within research, just like with other sectors, has been evolving. Recently, content marketing has become an important part of marketing strategy. That’s why we have been focused on releasing in-depth research reports and high-quality blogs, guides, and other useful information that people can access for free.
GeoPoll is now doing more webinars than before. Has COVID-19 changed event marketing in the long-term?
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, marketing has had to change tact – where we previously had conferences and trade shows, we have been having webinars and virtual meetings. We have seen a lot of value in webinars – apart from being easier to set up, they have been very interactive – sometimes even more than when we presented papers at conferences. With the pandemic, marketers and audiences are now seeing the value of virtual marketing and networking events, so I think they will remain popular even when in-person events come back.
What do you like doing out of work?
I live and work in Colorado, and I am lucky to have beautiful nature and mountains surrounding me. So I do a lot of hiking with my husband and my dog, and it’s been great having fun outdoors safely when we have not been able to travel recently, which is the other thing I love doing. I grew up traveling a lot, and I enjoy taking long flights and exploring new places and cultures. I also love cooking!
I also enjoy the great marketing campaigns you cook for us! Tell me, what does it take to be successful in your line of work?
As a marketer, I believe you want to be passionate about the product or company you are marketing. To bring out the message in the best way, you have to be enthusiastic about it.
You must be on your toes all the time to learn what’s happening in the market, trends in marketing, and what your audience is talking about. Be ready to react to events and jump effectively into ongoing conversations, especially at a company like GeoPoll, where a lot of our work follows current events.
Lastly, marketing is a broad practice, so it helps a lot to be part of a team with members who are great at aspects that you are not perfect at.