Q&A with Alex Mac Neill

What is your position in the Yellow Door team?

I’m a marketing intern.

What part of your job do you enjoy most?

I enjoy learning new things in a hands-on environment.

What part of your role do you find the most challenging?

Time management and meeting deadlines! I’m a perfectionist and can take 3 hours to do a task that could be done in 20 minutes.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the Yellow Door team?

Everyone is really down to earth and genuine.

What do you do when you’re stuck for inspiration?

Go for a walk outside or do some exercise.

What is your pre-work routine?

Breakfast, coffee and my favourite music at the moment.

If you could be any superhero, who would you be and why?

I don’t really watch superhero movies, but if I could choose a super power I’d want to be able to teleport. I’m not a fan of Cape Town traffic!

What’s your favourite way to spend a weekend?

My ideal weekend consists of going for drinks with friends at night, and spending the days outside – at the beach or hiking.

What music do you like to listen to while working?

It depends on my mood. When I’m feeling stressed I like to listen to something chilled, like the new Milky Chance album. Otherwise I listen to anything from Hip-Hop to Techno.

Introvert or extrovert?

Introverted extrovert. I promise that’s a thing 😉

Cats or dogs?

Dogs. I don’t know what to do with a cat.

Shoes or barefoot?

Seeing as I was just on crutches for having my foot cut by glass – shoes!

What’s your favourite spot in Gardens?

The Raptor Room is a vibe.

Q&A with Kirstie Duncan

What role do you play as part of the extended Yellow Door team?

I am freelance Graphic Designer and work on various projects for Yellow Door!


Which of the Yellow Door values do you resonate most with and why?

(Integrity, Authenticity, Consistency, Can do, Care why)
They are all values I hold dearly but I definitely resonate most with authenticity. If anyone knows me they know how much I value honesty and transparency. I think one of the biggest social problems we face is that people are constantly trying to be someone else, comparing themselves to others and being afraid to express their true selves. I strongly believe that honesty is the best policy and that the truth always comes out.


Tell us a bit more about your area of expertise, and why you are passionate about it?

I studied graphic design for three years, but because I went to a small private college we ended up having a lot of 1:1 time and extended our subjects to marketing, coding and motion graphics too! Which was great because I absolutely love to learn new things.

I have a twin sister and she always describes me as the creative one. I’m a self-diagnosed OCD designer and I try bring creativity into everything I do. I love how something I am so passionate about can help so many people. Wether it’s helping a client brand their dream business or helping people meet their goals through maximising brand awareness, it really does make me feel so good to see a happy client!


What do you find most challenging about this area of marketing?

I think the one thing that is challenging as a graphic designer is that once you’ve learnt enough about it, you start noticing design problems; EVERYWHERE! Whether it’s the font on a menu that’s not aligned, pixelated images, or a logo that’s been misplaced, you really cannot get away from it.


What trends are you looking forward to learning more about/ implementing as part of your

approach?

The best part about marketing is that there is always change. You can literally never get bored! Whether it is a new social media platform, an algorithm you have to work with or a colour that people are now more drawn towards, there’s always something more to learn.

Instagram is slowly taking away the like feature, I am excited to see how our marketing efforts will change to drive more engagement through comments instead.


What are your top three projects or brands that you’ve had the opportunity to work on?

With Yellow Door I am so lucky to work on so many amazing brands. The latest three I have been working on are CTA, TDI and GP/OKCID. They all provide such impactful services. And the best part is by doing the marketing for these brands, it feels like I am helping alongside them.


What do you do when you’re stuck for inspiration?

I try to immerse myself in nature, bring myself to the present and just do the things that I love. I think nature is root of all design, there are patterns, colours, compositions, sounds and scenes that can inspire any project.


What do you do when you’re not working?

You will find me surrounded by friends and my boyfriend Kyle, doing something sporty or outdoors or relaxing with a glass of red wine in hand! And most likely eating sushi! I don’t think a weekend has gone by since I started my studies in 2015 where I haven’t been on my laptop doing work, I really do value downtime but it’s hard when you love your job so much!


If you could be any superhero, who would you be?

I would be the little baby from The Incredibles. I think he is so damn cute, and why would you not want all the super powers in the world!

>> Take a look at Kirstie’s portfolio here: www.behance.net/kirstdunca687c.

Company culture and productivity behind the Yellow Door

To prove the point straight off the bat, it’s not just us that believes improving the culture will improve team efficiency. In a recent survey of business owners, carried out by The Alternative Board (TAB), 86% of respondents say they believe company culture directly impacts productivity. So there you have it.

Let’s unpack what this “culture” means and how to have a great company culture. Culture encompasses many different facets of the business. Anything from the way the office looks, to what is on the walls, to the way people speak to each other, the dress code, the rules, the beliefs and values of the people, the leadership and the vision all form part of the culture of the business.

So how do we influence the culture of the team at Yellow Door, and therefore our productivity? Firstly, we hire for culture-fit rather than just skills. This has always been our motto: you can teach the skills, but you can’t teach the culture. Our new hires need to resonate with our values, they need to have similar ideas about communication and what success means. In addition, they need to fit with the current team. One person in a team who is negative and unhappy in the workplace can start to affect the entire team’s performance, especially in a small team.

Secondly, we train for happiness and productivity. We have a culture of learning and expanding our minds. We have learning sessions every Friday where one person in the team presents something they have learnt, or we invite a guest speaker to come and talk to the team about their career or what they have done that has grown them as a person. We also have team sessions with our business coach, Murray Kilgour, and a happiness coach, Tammy Godsall, who each bring exercises to improve our productivity and efficiency while having a positive mindset.

We focus a lot of time on collaborating and teamwork in our projects, with everyone having access to Asana, our project management system, which gives them a snapshot of who is working on what. We also make time for thinking pairs – an exercise in listening and the opportunity to bounce ideas off of another teammate.

Then we measure employee happiness and development through 1-on-1 chats, regular performance reviews, goal-setting exercises and skills status sessions – where we track the level of competency of each person’s core skills over time. This gives us a good measure of whether the team is advancing in their careers, meeting their goals and also enjoying their work.

At the end of the day, we believe in cultivating a positive workplace culture because it attracts the right talent when we’re hiring, it impacts our happiness and satisfaction as leaders, and it positively affects the performance of our agency.

The evolution of relationships in the workplace

And we don’t just compete with local agencies anymore, we now compete on a global stage, and with the actual client who may choose to find ways to do it themselves using DIY platforms like Google analytics and Facebook ads. Competition and the need for constant adaptation has never been so rife and so demanding. We welcome this challenge at Yellow Door, and have repositioned ourselves as a strategic marketing partner to key clients.

Website builder Wix looked at the changing role of marketing agencies for 2020, and the challenges they face. The biggest upcoming challenges are as follows: 

The irony is that while technology has advanced to the point where it has disrupted the workplace and replaced many jobs, most humans are still wired with the same emotional coping mechanisms as our caveman ancestors. 

People spend hours on research and work to ensure that technology and businesses progress, and too little time reflecting on strategies that will improve the way we relate in relationships, both in our personal lives and in the workplace. No work is as difficult and unglamorous as the work of understanding why we behave like we do, how it affects the people around us, and how we can make the process of understanding ourselves and others easier.

Based on my research, I’ve come to the following conclusions:

  • What people often get wrong is that the emotional skills people identify in the best leaders, managers and employees – a ‘good communicator’ or a ‘curious thinker’ – are not inbred and static. They are, in fact, learnable and buildable
  • These skills are more important than ever because we’re not doing manual labour anymore – the technology often does the labour. We are part of the information age and the work we’re responsible for is becoming increasingly psychological and emotional.
  • Our work is now reliant on our minds and so we cannot produce great work if we’re in conflict with other employees, anxious, burnt out or unmotivated
  • Even when work is going through a calm and stable patch, we can make our work even greater if we build emotional skills by learning how to take feedback well, recognise where our blind spots lie, be curious enough that it fuels creativity, and have a mindset of learning and growth.

This is no small feat, but a good place to start is to understand what your business values and to know how to communicate that well to other people. It means you differentiate and identify the type of person who would get the job done versus the person who would thrive and add value to your business. 

And then it means you find and hire people whose interests and ambitions align with the interests of your business. The ideal candidates have the same interests, but they also behave like adults. 

They work in the best interests of your company, they take responsibility and ownership for their mistakes and their achievements, and most importantly, they have taken the time to reflect on who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can use these strengths to add value to your business. 

Part-time project management position

Part-time project management position

Yellow Door Collective

6 November 2019

Reading time: 2 minutes

If you have 5+ years of agency experience and want to work 20 hours/ week – read on.

We’re looking for an all-rounder who takes ownership of their work and resonates with our values: integrity, consistency, being authentic, having a can-do and care why attitude. As we’re a small team, we need someone we can depend on and enjoy working with.

 

You would manage 5 – 10 projects at any one time, ranging from new websites to digital campaigns, workshops and video shoots.

Non-negotiables:

  • Adaptive and productive
  • Focused on solutions rather than challenges
  • Calm, professional approach
  • Able to manage multiple projects and meet deadlines
  • Great people skills: you will be client facing, and responsible for briefing both our internal team, and extended team of writers, designers and developers.  
  • Attention to detail
  • Effortless writing style which is concise and grammatically correct
  • 5+ years relevant experience (preferably account manager/ director, project manager or traffic in an agency)
  • Tertiary qualification

“If I had to pick out one thing I learned from you it’s that “good business” is possible – that it is possible to be lekker people, look after your team, work hard and smart, and be successful – all whilst maintaining a good quality of life and doing other things that you love.” – Kirsten, previous Yellow Door employee

Bonus points for:

  • Experience using InDesign and Photoshop
  • A good grasp of WordPress, so that you can brief developers and check work done
  • Experience using Google Drive, Asana, Harvest, Slack, Business Facebook
  • SEO best practice

The perks:

  • Flexitime: work when and where you want, as long as you deliver on time
  • Collaborative approach: you will have the opportunity to work with a collective of talented creatives and strategists
  • Diversity of projects: in terms of the scope of work and array of clients from various industries
  • Report directly to co-founders, who welcome constructive feedback and are open to new ideas

Start date:

1 December 2019 or sooner

Salary:

Market-related, dependent on experience

To apply for the position, complete the form below:

Q&A with Stephanie Pope

What role do you play as part of the extended Yellow Door team?

I am contracted as a graphic designer for the Yellow Door team.

Which of the Yellow Door values do you resonate most with and why?

(Integrity, Authenticity, Consistency, Can do, Care why)

I reckon the Yellow Door can-do attitude and authenticity! I always love the challenge of a design project no matter what brief comes my way. And I find when both the designer and the client are 100% authentic throughout the project it always results in a strong, unique story.

Tell us a bit more about your area of expertise, and why you are passionate about it?

Being a graphic designer, my briefs are quite diverse but I must say I really love corporate identity and branding projects. I truly believe with branding that it is essential to make a solid first impression – it takes a customer less than five seconds to look at a design like a package, a business card or a website and form an opinion about it. In that short time, your customer wonders, “Is this what I need? Is this a trustworthy brand? How does this make me feel?”

The most successful and memorable brands definitely evoke a sense of trust, understanding, and connection in their customers. You have to think about the first time your customer will encounter your brand. They may find your website online, get a postcard in the mail, or pick up your business card at their local coffee shop. You want your potential customer to pick something up with your brand on it and immediately get an accurate sense of who you are, and what you do. You want them to feel interested in learning more about your offer and what it stands for. It can sound like a lot of pressure to put on a design but if done correctly you will immediately intrigue your potential customer. You have just a few seconds to capture their attention; and that’s my job (and challenge) to utilise that time as well as possible!

What do you find most challenging about this area of marketing?

Making sure the designs I create make a statement and convey the message it’s supposed to simply, quickly and effectively.

What trends are you looking forward to learning more about/ implementing as part of your approach?

I’m really enjoying being creative with 3D design – which seems to be everywhere at the moment.

What are your top three projects or brands that you’ve had the opportunity to work on?

– I ran the rebrand of Trinity, which is a residential college at the University of Western Australia. This project took nearly a year to conduct and I loved working on the process from start to finish (well if you can say a re-brand ever does finish, haha…)

– I had the opportunity to brand a new boutique hotel that went up in Perth’s CBD called The Nest on Newcastle.

– Working for a company called Quicklix (which is the Australian equivalent of Netflix) – I got to work with a lot of HBO and Disney content to produce illustrative digital designs for the website.

What do you do when you’re stuck for inspiration?

Call it quits for a couple of hours, meet up with friends for a coffee, go for a walk or jump into some other work. The downtime takes the pressure off and usually this is when the ideas start to brew…

What do you do when you’re not working?

I’m a mum of two kids who take up the rest of my time, one of which is only 3 months old so to say I’m busy is an understatement… It’s the most fulfilling job to take care of them but I love the “down time” of the graphic design side just as much. There’s always time for a cup of coffee with the girls and I do enjoy being active, so I try and get in either a swim, a walk or a session at the gym daily.

If you could be any superhero, who would you be?

Hmmm I reckon Wonder woman – I love how vocalised she is about the truth!! And I also wouldn’t mind her super human strength either 😉

Leadership part 2: what it takes to win

Dom and I set aside two Tuesday mornings each month to focus on the big picture, and our game plan. It’s easy to get bogged down in the detail, so we make a conscious effort to continue to refine our offering, develop our team and adapt to trends. We set goals and KPIs, and we also remind each other about how much we have already achieved.

This approach has stemmed from what I’ve learnt as part of the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Accelerator Programme, where I attend a quarterly learning day. Each time I savour 10 hours of no contact with the outside world, engaging conversation and tools to help me apply my mind to our business strategy.

My top strength is ideation, so as you can imagine, I walk away with dozens of ideas and opportunities to explore. Finding the time and head space to distil them down to a few key points is always the challenge! It’s not always possible to set aside big chunks of time for strategy, but even a few hours here and there is valuable. Understanding what it takes to win is at the top of my list for Q4. And I think it’ll be a work in progress for a while!

As a leader this is a constant juggling act – I have to balance my ambition and what I want to accomplish with an investment of time and energy in a company culture which will enable us to execute this strategy.

If I had to answer the question ‘what does it take to win’ right now, I’d say we need to have an engine room firing on all cylinders – from the productivity of our team to streamlined processes and creative input from our consultants. We have to stay on top of our SWT analysis (strengths, weaknesses and trends) and live our values .

But most importantly we need to slow down, celebrate the small wins and focus on the journey rather than the destination. This will enable us to inspire our clients and add real value to their businesses.

So, what does it take to win in your business? And what’s your game plan to get there?

6 steps towards a successful launch event

Perfect your brand story

Before you officially launch your product or service, you need to have a brand identity, and be clear on what your brand stands for. Make sure the story is presented in a simple and compelling way across all platforms and touchpoints.

Test the market

It’s always tempting to just jump in headfirst and hope for the best! But it’s a risky strategy, and not worth jeopardising what you’ve worked so hard for. So, create a focus group or launch an MVP (minimal viable product) to test the waters and figure out what tweaks you need to make before taking it further. User feedback is a vital step in perfecting your offering.

Pick the right date

Once that’s done, you can start planning the anticipated launch event. And this isn’t as easy as it sounds… in fact it’s something you need to be very clever about.

It’s also industry specific and depends on who your target audience is, but in general:

  • Avoid school holidays, as families tend to go away or take time out from work.
  • Avoid the silly season – most people’s calendars are jam packed in December and they are trying to wind down rather than squeeze more in.
  • Check what other events are on the same day, and whether your target audience are likely to attend.

Create a dream team

Don’t try to do everything yourself. Focus on what you’re good at and bring in experts to do the rest. This could be the catering, the entertainment or the organisation of the actual event.

When it comes to guest lists and media coverage, working with a marketing and PR agency can save you time and money, as they are likely to be well-connected and well-versed in this space. They can assist with potential brand collaborations or sponsors, as well as social media influencers, media coverage and support on the day. This typically covers liaising with journalists and influencers, as well as live tweets and Instagram Stories.

Measuring the success of the launch campaign or event is also a critical part of the process, so you can understand the return on investment. For example, if an event hashtag is promoted and used, you can track how many people posted about the event, and what reach this has on a particular platform. Sales following the event can also be tracked, to see if there is a spike or interesting pattern.

Have a draw card

With an endless stream of giveaways and events available to influencers and industry leaders, you need to come up with a way for your event to stand out from the crowd. Look to bring in a world class guest speaker or better yet, curate an interactive experience that will inspire or impress guests and give them a welcome break from their 9-to-5 day, or what they typically experience at an event.

Generate instant sales

Launch events are primarily for brand exposure and networking, but you can convert attendees into customers while you’re at it! Something as simple as offering 10% off all online purchases made within 24-hours of the event, using an exclusive discount code, can have a significant impact on your bottom line and justify the cost of the event.

With online shopping, e-marketing and online enquiries at an all-time high, brands can be tempted to skip a launch event altogether in the belief that customers no longer desire a face to face element on their path to purchase. However, we believe that the in-person interaction and engagement can go a long way in building relationships, trust and brand affinity with your target group. In turn, the guests’ first-hand experience with you and your brand also has a powerful word of mouth effect that can ripple out to a wide audience, long after the launch is over.

Originally published in Your Business Magazine

Q&A with Vanessa Clark

What role do you play as part of the extended Yellow Door team?

I get called in to assist the team with brand and messaging strategy sessions, especially where there is a strong leaning towards technology or a content-driven outcome.

Which of the Yellow Door values do you resonate most with and why?

Authenticity. I’m lucky enough to know a lot of the team socially as well as professionally, and this is something that has always stood out for me. This resonates for me because it means I can bring my authentic self to any client workshop or piece of work, which always results in my best work.

Tell us a bit more about your area of expertise, and why you are passionate about it?

I am a technology journalist, and today that means I ghost write thought leadership pieces for tech leaders, as well as write editorial technology trends pieces. Alongside that, because it makes my job as a writer easier, I help companies figure out their sustainable competitive advantage, and then put this into words to create the golden thread that ties their story together.

Digital technology is an absolutely fascinating space to be in today. We’re busy building our future world right now, so the decisions we make and paths we choose are critical. If I can help that process by demystifying technology, and exploring the space where technology and people intersect, I’ll be happy about my career.

What do you find most challenging about this area of marketing?

It’s so busy, with a lot of hype, scare-mongering and undifferentiated jargon being thrown about the place. In amongst all the noise, you have to find a clear message, articulate that in a compelling way, and then be consistent, persistent and relatable in getting this message out to your audience.

What trends are you looking forward to learning more about/ implementing as part of your approach?

I’ve just spent some time with an incredible group of Agile practitioners and am fascinated with how this approach can uncover knowledge, insights and connections in a group. There is no doubt that this maps closely on to the future of work, where a group gathers together for a specific project and ideas come from anywhere. The top-down way of decision-making and idea generation is just not relevant anymore. Plus, Agile principles and approaches feel far more compassionate and inclusive than traditional ways of working (and having meetings).

Agile is typically associated with software engineering projects, but there is no reason not to (and very good reasons to) apply them elsewhere in organisations. I’m looking forward to experimenting with Agile techniques during branding and messaging sessions.

What are your top three projects or brands that you’ve had the opportunity to work on?

  • I ran Twitter’s local PR campaign when it launched Twitter for Business in South Africa.
  • An article I wrote that I am hugely proud of is a piece on immigration and innovation in South Africa for Brainstorm in print publication earlier this year.
  • Recently I worked with fintech JUMO on its updated brand narrative and new website.

What do you do when you’re stuck for inspiration?

This sounds very mundane, but often doing the dishes helps! Or going for a walk. My process is to give my brain all the information it needs and then to let it percolate away, trusting it to do the work and deliver the goods. I’m also a big fan of cross-pollinating ideas from unlikely places, so reading something totally unrelated is also usually helpful.

What do you do when you’re not working?

At the moment, working on my Master’s in media theory and practice. And reading, walking, doing Pilates, Instagramming my cats, and getting better at riding my scooter, which I got earlier this year. (Top tip: scooting is super fun!)

If you could be any superhero, who would you be?

Doctor Who (13th incarnation, obviously). Because who wouldn’t want to be an eccentric, centuries-old, rogue Time Lord with two hearts, travelling through space and time, solving problems and having adventures with their human friends?

5 practical steps to grow your online community

At Yellow Door we always talk about having a holistic marketing approach, and community management is a crucial part of this. My role as a community manager is to interact with clients’ customers on social media platforms – to complement in-store customer service.

In today’s world responses need to be quick and on brand; as incorrect community management practices can be damaging to the brand and mean you could lose out on business.

So here are our five best practice tips for community management:

Understand your audience

Before you dive-in and interact with your customers online, you need to know a few things about them.

  • Who is your current target market?
  • What age group do they fall under?
  • What are their needs? (In term of services and products)
  • How they might interact online?

Understanding your audience will ensure that you address and engage with your online community on a level that they can relate to, and will help you create the right impression of the brand.

First message resolution

Responding to your fans’ messages, comments or reviews is important, and solving their queries or complaints first time round is vital to create a perception that this is a brand they can trust.

  • Ask simple, practical questions when unsure of what the customer wants.
  • Provide links to product pages or more information that will resolve the query.
  • Provide relevant departments’ contact details.
  • If it is a complaint, escalate it to the relevant department (ask the customer to provide their contact details).

Consistent tone

Ask yourself, is the tone I’m using on brand? This will help to build a persona for your brand, and enable fans to relate to it.

  • Create a greeting that isn’t too formal or generic (include emojis)
  • Have a general response sheet handy to save time for FAQs, and personalise each reply slightly

Create a schedule

To get to all the important aspects of community management such as complaints, feedback and managing competitions, set aside a chunk of time each day where you will check these interactions.

Engage

Building an online community and creating brand awareness requires that you engage! When the level of interaction around your brand increases online you will be visible to potential customers. Ensure that you respond to each comment, message or review.

Even if a comment doesn’t require a response, you are still able to interact by liking a positive comment. Customers appreciate feeling important to a business, and they are! So always remember that if you take the time to engage, you will see growth online and in revenue in return.