By: Tejumade Haastrup
Recently, I had the privilege of attending the Business of Design two-day seminar, which took place from 20 to 21 May in Cape Town. Conducted by leading South African design professionals, the seminar seeks to aid small to medium enterprises from the design and fashion industries that are looking to significantly expand local and international markets.
The two-day programme consisted of twenty-one topics and each speaker was given thirty minutes per topic. Topics discussed at the seminar were all pertinent to the contemporary challenges of establishing a successful business in the design industry and included tips on building your brand, improving your online reputation, managing and building your networks and making the media work for you. Of the many informative sessions and interesting discussions held over the course of the seminar, some of my highlights included:
- What will I find if I Google you?
Cathy O’Clery, Creative Director of Platform Creative Agency, presented on “What will I find if I Google you?” It came as a surprise to many that she had in fact googled the business websites of all the delegates present and even offered advice on how to make their websites more engaging and attractive. O’Clery says to ask yourself; who is looking at your website, who would you want to look at it, what it is you want them to know and how to tailor your messaging accordingly. She advised on making the images of your products conspicuous so as to have greater visual impact and ensure memorablity.
- Building your online reputation
Speaker, Chris Rawlinson of Ogilvy advised not to treat social channels like paid channels – they are not there for a hard sell, rather focus on the social aspect. Rawlinson also shared some tips on communicating effectively on social media and explained that your company is your greatest marketing asset and to invest in it rather than on advertising. He also stressed the fact that a brand isn’t just made but built over time and in order to be remembered, you need to add value.
- Making the media work for you
Zanele Kumalo, seasoned journalist and content editor at TPP, spoke on “Making the media work for you”, a topic relevant to all business owners and communication companies. As a journalist, Kumalo was able to shed some insight into what is considered a good story and the best ways to generate publicity. She explained that in order to stand out, it is important to create a multi-layered story around your product and not just rely on shouting capitals in your subject line. She says the media now work with smaller teams in smaller spaces and with less time to create content. This means you need to provide as much information as possible and become your own storyteller. Once you have a great feature from one publication, it’s much easier to spread your story elsewhere. She adds that print is as important as online, so learn to play with both.
- Engaging your staff: Motivation and Accountability
My final favourite was by speaker, Adele Smith who heads TFG. She spoke on the importance of managing talent and diversity in the workplace. There is a lot of talent, the trick is finding the right talent for the business. She stressed the importance that there is in having a synergy between the journey of the business and that of the individual.
Overall, the seminar was educative, informative, inspiring and entertaining. Not only was each topic captivating and motivating, but the seminar also proved to be a fantastic networking experience. It was an invaluable experience and I would recommend that all professionals/business owners in the design industry attend the next Business of Design seminar as it is definitely worth experiencing.