Small agency, big return

When looking for the perfect marketing team to work on your brand, you may be drawn to big agencies due to the fact that they come with the recognition, merit and reliability. What you may not be aware of though, is that smaller agencies can be just as effective and may be better suited to your needs and goals.

Here are a few reasons to consider partnering with a smaller agency:

One goal, one passion – relationships that matter

Working with a small agency will give you the opportunity to develop a strong working relationship. In many cases, you will receive better communication, you aren’t just a number – you are a valued client.

I’ve worked for a bigger agency in the past, and in my experience, working in a smaller agency has taught me that things can get done a lot more efficiently, without having to go through too many protocols. The client almost always deals with only one point of contact, which is a great attribute. Instead of working with various people each time, you will be in constant contact with an individual who you’ll develop a relationship with, that leads to one goal, one passion.

With great flexibility comes great ideas

The success of small agencies depends on the ability to leverage flexibility and develop fresh ideas. Each team member comes with their own set of skills and specialisations, and must be the go-to-person at his or her job.

Depending on the project, there is also the opportunity to develop an additional skillset. For example, an account manager may expand into social strategy, a designer may create copy for a brochure, and a copywriter may even assist with content strategy.

Behind the Yellow Door, we firmly believe in growing and sharing knowledge so that each individual is well equipped to solve a range of client challenges. Each team member is focused on client goals, not necessarily his or her defined role. This is important because marketing is being redefined each day. Flexibility is the key to success, and working on a wide range of services and clients provides an opportunity to expand the definition of advertising.

Specialisation – it’s all in the game

More often than not, small agencies are more specialised in particular areas. This gives prospective clients an opportunity to hand pick an agency that will know more about their wants and needs. Find out more about our core services.

Affordability – the perfect fit for your pocket

With lower overheads – including office space and employee count – small agencies are often more affordable than larger agencies. This is also an advantage for small businesses who don’t have significant budgets for marketing, advertising and public relations services.

 At the end of the day, my experience is that a small agency tends to be more authentic, more flexible, more creative, more cost-effective and faster at what they do, to improve their client’s brand experience. So why not go small?

The art of engagement – how to engage with your target audience

Every brand these days has some form of social media following, whether they like it or not. So, it’s best for the brand to utilise this opportunity to tap into your market. This could help you discover new markets that you never even thought of or help you expand the one you already have. If used wisely and creatively, your online community can be your biggest inspiration when creating strategic campaigns and brainstorming what your next move should be. Let us explore some ways that we can get the best out of our audience in order to benefit them and us.

Create content that speaks to your consumers and not at them

Most of the time brands are stuck on what they want to say and what they want their consumers to think about them, forgetting that consumers will think what they want to . That’s what gives them the power over brands. So, why not create content that inspires them to think and engage more with your brand. Why not invite them to join in your conversation and hear what they think about issues that are beyond your brand. Don’t fall into the trap that most brands find themselves in – talking about how great the product is and all the features, forgetting that people want to know how your product or service will benefit their lives.

The only way to continuously stay ahead of your consumers is to constantly invest in research about your consumer. With the way information is vastly consumed, by the time you talk about a trendy topic, they have already engaged with it amongst themselves many times. So, pick your topics carefully: find topics that are relevant to your brand. Even unrelated topics will at least give you insight on what your audience wants to talk about. Find a different angle to approach every situation, a way that your audience will come to understand as your way.

Encourage user-generated content

There is nothing people of this time like more than talking or sharing stories about themselves – hello selfies! That is why it is important for a brand to encourage their users to share their own content. Your audience does not just want to be spectators, they want to be a part of the shift in your business, whether you have considered them or not. They want to feel and know that you care – and trust me, they are smart enough to know when you don’t. Look at the shift in how influencers have taken over as the voice of the people; how reviews on YouTube about your product are where people will likely go to search for the ‘truth’ as opposed to what you sell them. Get people to talk about your product without you pushing it yourself and see how truthful people will be, which in turn will help you perfect your product/service.

Look at how Nike has done this with their running app – how they manage to get people to trial their products, talk about them and form communities about them too. In this case, events work best where people get to test out their senses and see your product in real life. For new products, gauge their initial reactions and monitor what they have told their friends on social media! In this regard a social gathering with your audience takes first prize. Have pop up ‘demos’ where you are most likely to find your audience and get their initial reaction on your product – the best research you can pay for.

No, you can’t be everything to everyone. As much as you don’t want to limit yourself to one platform, it is also best to find the social platform that your audience most connects with or at least choose one which best describes what your brand is about to build on as your consumers change through the years. You want to stay relevant and engaging as a brand, but you also don’t want to run the risk of being seen as fluffy and all over the place.

It has never been more relevant than it is now to have clear direction on what you want to say and how. You don’t want to be another brand in the midst of all that noise. And that is what we at Yellow Door Collective are good at – helping brands form a distinct voice and communicating better with their consumers on all social platforms. If you need help with this, let us show you how.

Branding in the age of experience

In today’s digital world your brand, and your competitors, are constantly at the fingertips of potential customers. Interaction and user experience is the new currency, as your brand constantly converses, engages and interacts with the consumers on a diverse range of platforms.

In the past the importance of interaction, for forming a brand positive image, was only highlighted in service-based industries. What’s new? As all brands now have a digital presence, customers have frequent interactive experiences with all categories of companies. What a company looks like, sounds like, and how it behaves all become factors of what a brand means to a consumer; but with so much noise, how can a brand stand out? Brands are now defined by the sum of their communications and interactions so, in order to stand out, marketers must understand the main components that make up a consumer’s perception of a brand.

1. Visuals:

Visuals comprise the graphic elements used to communicate the brand; including the logo, typeface, images, and other elements of a style guide.

2. Tone:

Tone is used to express the brand’s feelings or thoughts. In other words, it’s the style of communication the brand uses; from the text on a website and the messaging developed and used in targeted advertisements to the manner in which staff speak to customers.

3. Behaviour:

Behaviour represents how the company acts in certain situations. Does the company reflect the morals and values of their customers? Do they actively express those values through their actions?

Only when all three components are present and aligned to a core brand message, do customers have a consistent enough experience to form a clear brand image. In the digital world we live in today, customers interact with the representation of the brand in the form of websites, social media accounts, and other interactive services, making behaviour a crucial attribute of the brand.

The granularity of behaviour as a brand attribute does vary as it can be expressed holistically, at the level of entire processes and interactions on a site, or at a finer level, in more specific behavioural guidelines for a brand’s various touchpoints.

Why User Experience (UX) is a brand differentiator

Most people can’t differentiate how they feel about a brand from how they feel about the experiences they have with that brand, so in many situations, UX becomes the brand differentiator. It can be part of, or all of, the reason a customer chooses to engage with a company or its products.

Brands that are, at the core of their business, addressing an unmet user need are regularly disrupting industries by focusing on UX and, specifically, on unmet user needs as brand differentiators and succeeding in oversaturated markets by doing so. Examples are not hard to find: Uber, Airbnb, and Netflix are all based on this philosophy of making their branded service as easy to use a possible. Check out our client OPEN who has hit the mark by focusing on user experience with their newly launched app that is bound to make the life of any homeowner that much less stressful.

With more competition in the market, and consumers having access to a range of competitors through digital platforms, it’s more important than ever to stand out. In order to do so the entire experience of a consumer looking for, finding, and interacting with your brand must deliver a consistent and seamless user experience.

Interested to find out more? Chat to us about how we can differentiate your brand.

Q&A with Christine Bergh

What is your position in the YDC team?

PR Manager

How would you describe your role?

I’m supposed to be the PR expert 😉 I’m involved in PR strategy and content creation across some of YDC’s awesome clients.

When did you start working at YDC?

January 2018

What part of your job do you enjoy most?

I love working in a team and being inspired by the people around me. It’s also great that the job requires me to be as up-to-date as possible… that’s enough stimulation on it’s own!

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

Well I’m actually living in the sticks (Clanwilliam)…ok it’s not that bad, it’s actually quite wonderful really. But a speedy Internet connection doesn’t seem to be a priority around these parts! So that can be a challenge at times, and then of course I don’t get to see the YDC team’s cheery faces everyday.

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

I’ve watched YDC grow over the years and it’s all been rather exciting to be honest! And now I am part of that excitement, which makes me feel quite special.

I love being challenged by new projects but still having the security of being able to brainstorm with everyone and hear all their ideas.

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

I like to talk things through with someone (usually my husband whether he likes it or not). Sometimes saying things out loud instead of keeping it all in your head can spark new ideas and clarify clouded thought. I am also a sucker for trawling Instagram for inspiration of course!

What is your pre-work routine?

Early mornings on the farm are definitely the best time to be out and about (it reaches 40+ degrees in summer!), so I generally do some exercise, or on lazy days I’ll read in bed for a bit. But the same thing always follows… a strong percolated coffee and a green juice to give me the boost I need.

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

I’m not sure why, but for some reason I’ve always loved Elastigirl from The Incredibles. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be that bendy? If I could lie in my bed and stretch my arm the length of the house to grab a glass of water from the kitchen, well that would just be the greatest. I’m not sure she’s even considered a superhero, but she’s Mr Incredible’s wife and he’s definitely one so I hope that counts J

What’s your favourite way to spend a weekend?

I love chilling at home with my hubby and hounds – it’s just so nice to have time to appreciate your own space and go on missions in the mountains or to the dam. But I also love the company of friends and family, so add a gathering of sorts to the mix, and I’m happy!

What music do you like to listen to while working?

I usually put on an instrumental piano mix (I love the piano!) – it drowns out the background noise but isn’t distracting!

Introvert or extrovert?

Extrovert

Cats or dogs?

Dogs

Shoes or barefoot?

Barefoot for as long as it is socially acceptable J

What’s your favourite spot on Kloof Street?

I absolutely love Black Sheep – delicious food and a great vibe.

Corporate vs. agency: to what design are you inclined?

Corporate design versus agency design, a simple case of good versus evil or is it a matter of choice? Is it the dark and light side of the force or is it simply a matter of preference? So many questions… but where are the answers?

I have worked on both sides of the proverbial fence, currently applying my trade on the agency side, but it wasn’t until I move from client side to agency life that I truly realised just how different they are.

It’s not just the pace, day-to-day tasks and responsibilities, billable hours, working on multiple accounts, client reports, tight deadlines, variety of work, or even the fact that with some clients you need to be available at all-times of the day and night – everything, really is different.

Corporate life

On the client side, things tend to happen at a more manageable pace. Not to say that you don’t get tight deadlines, but generally the workload is more spread out. Marketing calendars, schedules, budgets, projects, campaigns and company collateral are usually all decided on at the beginning of the year. With that out the way you have plenty of forewarning and can plan ahead, do more research, and spend a little more time on projects. On the flipside, and depending on the size of the business, you can sometimes sit with mediocre tasks in-between the bigger projects or campaigns.

A good thing about a corporate setting is that you only have one client or brand to worry about. You have a much deeper understanding of the business, its culture, the people, and the job itself. It provides longevity and stability, and the structures that are in place provide a sense of security, not to mention that most corporates offer some pretty sweet packages and benefits.

Some negatives would have to be the numerous meetings and loop holes you have to go through, more often than not there tends to be conflicting objectives, not just between the different departments or your own team, but sometimes between management and the rest of the team. And probably the biggest annoyance would have to be the on-going politics.

Agency life

A few words to describe the agency setting would be fast-paced, dynamic, fun, competitive, lifestyle, multiple clients, stressful, different brands and industries, and continuous learning. If all this sounds amazing then agency life might be the right fit for you. Tasks and decisions come at a much faster pace. Deadlines are tighter, workload is usually heavier, and clients expect things way quicker than is sometimes humanly possible.

If you’re like me, the continuous learning part is fun, but it’s not always easy, especially when you need to learn how to do something that you’re either not interested in or have a difficult time wrapping your head around. The fact that you get to work with a variety of clients, brands and industries is cool, and you get to work on a multitude of strategies.

This does, however, require you to know a lot about everything, and if you don’t, you’d better learn it quickly. Your clients expect you to bring your A-game every day, and most of the time they act like they are your only client. You have to stay up-to-date with industry news, trends, technology, and even what other agencies are doing. After all, a client shouldn’t be telling you what to do or what another agency is doing better; you’re the expert and you need to blow their socks off every day.

At an agency you are afforded the opportunity to try your hand at different things, whether it be new industries, technology or specializations. This is great for you, especially early on in your career, as it gives you the ability to find what you do and don’t like, not to mention give you more experience and knowledge, which is crucial if you want to become a sought-after commodity. Another cool thing is that most agencies have one or more truly experienced and wiser professionals who can help teach and mentor you.

On the downside, not all agencies can afford to pay as much as corporates, the structures and benefits are not always there, and sometimes the environment can be a bit too laid back. I also found that sometimes you just have to work longer hours, including nights and weekends, either to get the work done or because you’re juggling too many things at once.

Converting to agency life

I have worked on both sides now for about the same amount of time and after the dust has settled, I can’t say I prefer one more than the other. Both have their positives and negatives, and both are so completely different. I wouldn’t say that either side is cushier or more beneficial to one’s career than the other, because it depends on the individual. I will say that if you like structure and need more stability in your career then corporate is the way to go, on the other hand, working at an agency has kept me on my toes and every day holds something completely new and exciting.

How to upsell in a tough economy

This article was previously published in the Apr/May issue of Your Business Magazine.

Whether it’s due to a competitive industry, a tough economy, or a combination of the two, businesses need to think outside the box to generate leads. And remember – new business doesn’t have to come from new clients. In this article we share ways to provide maximum value to existing customers and increase revenue.

But before we look at ways to upsell, let’s unpack what it means, and how it differs from cross-selling. Upselling is the practice of encouraging customers to buy a higher-end product or service than the one in question; whereas cross-selling tempts customers to buy related products that satisfy additional, complementary needs.

A simple example of cross-selling is when you order a quarter chicken from Nando’s, they ask whether you want a side or drink with it. Chips, wedges and a side salad all complement the meal. The same applies when you’re checking out of an online store; the shop often lists similar or complementary products that you may add to your cart, or buy next time.

Consider American airline, JetBlue’s “Even More Space” initiative, which allows passengers to buy seats with more legroom. This upsell was projected to net JetBlue $190 million in additional revenue in 2014 (compared to $45 million in 2008, when it first launched). On a broader scale, one can look at statistics from the travel industry: 48% of airline passengers and 59% of hotel guests are interested in upgrades and additional services, which means that you could be leaving money on the table if you neglect to research upsell options in your industry.

The key to success in both cases is to understand what your customers value and then respond with products, services or features that meet those needs.

Build strong relationships

Long-standing relationships and loyal clients are worth gold. Nurture them, and never side-line dedicated customers when you are busy with new business development.

Constantly over-deliver and exceed expectations. Make yourself ‘irreplaceable’.

Identify clients’ needs

Don’t presume you know what your customers want or need – ask them. You need to understand their hopes, dreams, fears and challenges. To do this, set up one-on-one calls; catch up over coffee; or email them a quick survey to complete.

Also be front footed and see what other your clients’ competitors are doing to address these needs. Find solutions (or be the solution) for these anticipated problems.

Define your offering

Next up, figure out how you can help them achieve their goals or overcome challenges. You need to find ways to really add value to make the additional expense worthwhile. Also make sure your pricing is fair and competitive, without selling yourself short.

For example, one of the products we upsell at Yellow Door Collective is a succinct, professional and beautifully designed Company Profile document. This is useful for businesses to have on file to send to suppliers, investors and a whole host of other partners; rather than sending them an overview of the brand via email each time.

Paint a picture

To excel at upselling, you need to help customers visualise the value they will get from the higher-priced item. Whether it’s a 30-second video, an infographic, or a well worded email – take the time to explain not only what the product is, but how it will benefit them or their business.

Incentivise

Giving away a reward or incentive can increase your upsell/ cross-sell conversion rate. For example if you have an online store, you can offer free shipping above a certain price point. You could also offer a discount if they purchase two or more products or services.

Upskill

Ensure your team has the knowledge and expertise to implement or create the relevant service or product. Another great option is to find a non-competing service provider to complement your offering and agree on a referral or commission structure. This way you can expand your offering without increasing the number of staff you employ.

In closing, remember that there’s more to upselling and cross-selling than just pitching add-on products. Focus on your customers’ needs, and then craft your approach accordingly. Try to upsell quality rather than quantity.

How to effectively measure your digital marketing efforts

Recently published in the April/ May edition of Your Business Magazine.

If you’re a small business owner, you’ve been told many times by now that social media and digital marketing are non-negotiables when it comes to your marketing efforts. It’s all very well to set up a website and social media platforms, and start using them to build your brand, but how do you know they’re working?

You will probably have figured out that digital marketing efforts are more measurable than traditional marketing like newspapers, magazines and billboards. The problem is figuring out which metrics to focus on and how to keep track of them. We have put together a list of tools and metrics to help you navigate this minefield.

Website

Google Analytics is the most well-known and widely-used analytics tool for website statistics. It is cloud-based and as such you can log in from anywhere in the world to track the relevant metrics. It is also simple to set up, any web developer can add the code to your website once the site is up and running.

Besides the most obvious metric – how many people have visited your website in a certain time-period – the other popular metrics are categorised as follows:

1.     Audience: insights into the characteristics of your website users (visitors) such as their demographics, geolocation, the device they’re using, the browser and operating system they used to access your site, whether they’ve been to your site before, and more.

2.     Acquisition: how your users (visitors) came to your website, i.e. from Google search (organic), another website (referral), an email newsletter, a paid ad, social media or by directly typing your URL into their browser.

3.     Behaviour: information on what pages your users are visiting, the time they spent on each page and what they clicked on.

4.     Conversion: tracks when a user does something that you want them to do, i.e. buy a product, submit an enquiry, etc. This needs to be specifically set up by using a piece of code on your website.

The tool allows you to create your own custom dashboard, so you can just adjust the time period when you log in and immediately see the data that you want to measure. There are also other software applications available for you to collate this information into easily digestible and visual reports – check out Swydo and Supermetrics.

Social media

One of the biggest appeals of social media is the fact that you can track customers and customer relationships in a meaningful way. However, many business owners get bogged down with the idea of tracking vanity metrics, such as the number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers.

While these are nice to haves and definitely necessary to gain reach on these platforms, they shouldn’t be the only things to look at to see if you are succeeding on these platforms.

Across all platforms, the metrics which matter are the reach of your content (sometimes called impressions), the engagement that it receives and the number of clicks through to your website (click through rate). While the metrics are similar for most platforms, there are some that are worth noting.

  • Facebook: the interesting thing about this platform is the amount of personal information it can gather about your audience. Facebook is the number one social media tool for consumer marketing due to the fact that the targeting of content and advertising is so detailed. The metrics that are available on your page include the age, gender, location and interests of your audience.
  • Twitter: the use of hashtags is the main differentiating factor of Twitter analytics. From the platform’s analytics dashboard you can find out what the most talked about topics are such as events like International Women’s Day and big sports events. You can then join the conversation by creating a campaign focusing on one of these topics.
  • Instagram: the native dashboard of metrics for Instagram is fairly simple as it is done purely on your phone, however there are plenty of tools available to delve deeper into your statistics such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social. These tools allow you to track your hashtag performance, how many people engaged with the hashtags in your posts and which ones performed the best.
  • LinkedIn: as one of the only business-to-business social networks available, the metrics here are a little different. The LinkedIn analytics dashboard shows the demographics of your page by industry and seniority of role allowing you to see you your customer really is and targeting your content accordingly.

Another important way to measure social media results is to test the content on different audiences. Conducting split testing or A/B testing with your content can be hugely beneficial to finding out what works and what doesn’t. Remember to test only one metric at a time and to give it time to get results.

Email marketing

Newsletters, when done well, are still a very effective way of reaching customers directly and are extremely measurable. Using platforms such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact or Campaign Monitor you can track your subscription rate, number of opens on a certain email campaign, number of clicks and where the user clicked on the newsletter as well as the number of users who unsubscribe after each campaign.

The important step, and one that business owners often forget, is to study the data to change behaviour and get better results in future.

A study by the SMB Group found that the biggest technological challenge facing small businesses is getting better insights using the data they already have access to.

Once you have a better understanding of the metrics and how to find this data it is important to document the information in a format which can be compared over different date periods.

Each platform should have objectives and goals in place to gauge whether the platform is bringing in a good return on investment. The goals should be realistic but should be aligned with your business goals and should push you or your agency to achieve good results to ultimately contribute to business success.

What really goes on behind the Yellow Door?

Do you feel confident to give an impromptu elevator pitch for your brand? And what about for someone else’s company?

Most of us are guilty of having a vague idea about what friends and family do, but no real idea of what their job entails or how they add value.

When I consider this with a business development hat on, I can’t help but think of all the missed opportunities and new leads that could come from a casual braai! Word of mouth is such a powerful form of marketing, and one that we often forget about.

So, my challenge to you is to understand what three people do on a day-to-day basis, and why. Then think about how their brand, service or product could be relevant to someone else in your network.

Here is a snapshot of our core offering, to give you an idea of what I mean:

What we do:
Yellow Door Collective is a digital marketing agency. Our services include strategy, project management, design and content creation (for social media and blogs for example). We tell a brand’s story in a way that is authentic and easy to relate to. We refine and develop your brand online, increase engagement with your target audience, and have a positive impact on your bottom line.

Why we do it:
This one is easy: we love what we do. In an ever-changing digital landscape, we strive to learn and develop new ways to stay ahead of the curve, develop our team and go the extra mile for our clients.

What to say around the braai (a third person version of our elevator pitch)
Looking for an owner-managed marketing agency? Yellow Door Collective has a personal, results driven approach, with long standing clients across a number of sectors.

The founders have established a culture that supports their team, built on core values of integrity, authenticity and consistency. They care why and have a can-do attitude.

Right, mini-sales pitch done 😉 But on a serious note – take the time to work on your own elevator pitch and promote the people in your life that you’re proud of. We’re incredibly lucky to live in a city that is bursting at the seams with creativity, start-ups and successful entrepreneurs. Why not support each other so that we can grow our economy together?

Q&A with Simon Dwyer

What is your position in the YDC team?

I am an intern.

How would you describe your role?

I see my role here as a learning assistant. Learning to assist and assisting to learn, with the goal of developing my marketing skill set.

When did you start working at YDC?

On March the 22nd, which happened to be the birthday of our co-founder Dominique.

What part of your job do you enjoy most?

Learning to use new software, having the chance to help bring on new clients and stretching my creativity.

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

Getting used to the various time and task management software that we use everyday ALL THE TIME.

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

I like working in a small team where each individual knows one another on a personal level and have great working relationships.

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

Try get onto the mountain for a climb or, at the very least, go for a walk in nature. Nothing gets the create juices flowing like natural beauty.

What is your pre-work routine?

Wake-up…go back to sleep, then wake-up, kettle on, shower, and make coffee to drink while I pull myself towards myself.

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

Wolverine for sure, I would be able to climb, slackline, and snowboard, all without worrying about getting injured or breaking bones.

What’s your favourite way to spend a weekend?

Taking a trip out the city to go camping with a group of friends, preferably in a place with hikes, waterfalls and good rock-climbing. I always feel calm and content when I am out of the hustle and bustle of city life.

What music do you like to listen to while working?

Oooo…that depends on what mood I am in, but usually ranges from 70s and 80s rock (The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Police, Roxette, etc.) to electronic based psy-trance. I like most music though, just not anything with the words “babe”, “dollar bills”, “booty”, or any other generic references to woman and money.

Introvert or extrovert?

It depends on where I am and who I’m with, but no matter what I always need alone time to recharge.

Cats or dogs?

Dogs for sure, I mean cats are awesome too but there is something special about knowing that after a long day at work there is unconditional love waiting for you at home.

Shoes or barefoot?

Barefoot!! I think its silly that people think they can improve on thousands of years of evolution, and as for the argument of hygiene…the western word doesn’t scrub their shoes or take them off before going inside, but at least I clean my feet every day.

What’s your favourite spot on Kloof Street?

It’s a tie between the laid-back vibe of Mixa’s Shwarmas, that I’ve been frequenting since I was a student, and the fairy-tale-like environment of Kloof Street House.