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Yellowwood Future Architects: Andy Rice, Kay Nash & Ivan Moroke

Creativity meets strategy in this team’s use of marketing tools to uncover business solutions.

Juliet Pitman

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Andy Rice, Kay Nash & Ivan Moroke of YellowWood Architects

In a business environment in which the marketing function is under increasing pressure to maintain credibility and remain relevant, one company is proving that marketing can deliver hard-nosed business solutions.

Yellowwood Future Architects positions itself as an expert marketing consultancy that uses marketing to solve business challenges. “Our point of departure is always the business problem which a client will present to us. Our approach is to use a combination of research,business insight, marketing, branding tools and design to solve this problem,”explains Kay Nash, CEO, who merged Yellowwood and Future Architects in 2004 and later took on partner and group managing director, Ivan Moroke,. ‘Solving business problems’ and ‘beinginformed by a client’s business strategy’ are claims many marketing specialists make but something few are able to actually deliver. Yet when asked to detail exactly how Yellowwood puts it into action, Andy Rice, Yellowwood’s chairman, is not short of words or examples.

“Exclusive Books consulted us to help them grow beyond their normal organic growth rate. The company already has by farthe lion’s share of the bookshop market and a huge national footprint, and can therefore only really open new stores when new malls open – this was the challenge,” he explains. Yellowwood’s solution was to help the retailer uncover a new, previously untapped market segment and in so doing delivered additional incremental volume and new business growth. Rice explains:“Traditionally, Exclusive Books was a store for book lovers but we realised that we couldn’t get this core market to spend much more on books than they were already doing.

“However, our research revealed that there are a lot of other people who are not regular book-buyers but who nevertheless have a passion for something and will spend money on books relating to that topic. Informed by such market research and insight into Exclusive Books’business, we used creative marketing tools to introduce this new market segment to the brand, sending them the message that the store has a book to suit their passion – be it fly-fishing, cooking, motorcycles or travel.”

Answering a business question in this way through marketing and branding requires far more than an understanding of how to apply marketing tools in different ways. As Nash points out, “It requires a rigorous commercial understanding of both the general and brand-specific business landscape, a company’s competitors, its challenges, where its industry’s going, what product developments might be relevant in future – and, of course,a thorough familiarity with all aspects of the company itself.”

Moroke adds: “It’s for this reason that our projects always start with interviewing key people inside our client’sbusiness. This includes the CEO and senior people in finance, operations,marketing and systems. Our goal is to really understand the business and this is our starting point. So when we deliver a marketing solution it’s one that has already taken into account all the different things that affect and drive the business – and it has the buy-in of the people at the top.” The trick is to deliver business solutions that are not one-dimensional or naïve, as Nash puts it.

And this means having experienced people on board. “It’s very easy to give a client a solution that sounds great but is not sustainable, so we focus on employing people who have a good track record of business experience,” she says. The Yellowwood  team comprises a powerful research team that drives the company’s understanding and insight into clients’ business needs; a creative design team that has a comprehensive understanding of strategy; and a strategic team that draws on the research and works with the design team to deliver solutions.

“One of the strengths of our team is the fact that it’s so diverse,” continues Nash, “Part of our strategy is to champion differences because it’s in doing so that you are able to make unlikely connections. The more diverse our team, the greater the depth of whatwe’re able to achieve because different people approach problems in different ways. So we don’t prescribe what an ideal designer, strategist or researcher looks like.” The company also prides itself on delivering individual solutions, as Moroke explains. “We don’t have a suite of products – we tailor-make all our solutions to the specific business challenge of the client.”

It’s an expensive business model but it’s one that works, and as Moroke concludes, doing things differently is what sets Yellowwood apart.“While we have the wisdom that’s required from a business perspective, we are nonetheless creative thinkers and I think it’s the combination of the two that helps us uncover unique solutions, solutions informed by unconventional wisdom.” Contact: +27 11 268 5211, www.ywood.co.za

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton

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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.

CEOwise

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Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect

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It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.

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“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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