Learning Curve | Hard work, fun in one PINK package

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Providing valuable work-skills for Nelson Mandela Bay’s youth is a key motivational driver for owner of PINK Brand Management, Annel Wolmarans.
Wolmarans has about 400 young promoters working for PINK across the Bay and East London.
The primary business strategy behind PINK, she said, was to bring brands to life in the most memorable way possible.
Can you give me some background on yourself and how and when you started the business?
After studying hospitality at Varsity College in Port Elizabeth, I managed a guesthouse for a couple of years and then moved to an adverting agency where I managed certain key accounts.
My husband is an accountant and at the time serviced PINK Brand Management. He came to hear that the business was for sale and we jumped at the opportunity.
PINK Brand Management is an experiential marketing agency. We do promotions and events, from small in-store samplings to launch events, golf days, flyer drops and graphic design services.
If you walk into a store and are offered a sample of the latest wines, beers, snacks or perfume, chances are it is one of our promoters.
Where was the idea for the business born?
As I bought the company, the business idea was not really mine. For me, the idea to buy PINK stemmed from the opportunity that I would be able to provide for myself in a way that was fun and social – what more does one want?
What do you think makes your business unique?
The fact that we are able to provide working opportunities for so many young people in the Bay. Although promotional work is a stepping stone for most, they are exposed to and gain so many skills that will assist them in the working world. They gain confidence, communication skills and learn to take responsibility.
If someone wanted to take one key lesson from your business model, what would it be?
Being organised is everything.
My management system is a custom-built system that works for me and I am forever updating and changing it in order to stay organised and keep track of all activations and events. Without this, I would be lost.
What are some of the biggest inhibitors your business faced before even getting off the ground?
Since I bought the business, I jumped into the deep end and had to quickly adapt to what each client needed and wanted. I also had to establish my own working relationships, not only with clients but with staff.
What are some of your biggest challenges in day-to-day business operations and your particular industry?
Working with people is always challenging. We rely so much on our promotional staff to execute activations on the ground and unpredictable situations occur, which is part of life.
I have learnt to think on my feet and to always have a backup plan. We also have a high staff rotation as most of our staff are students working parttime until they are ready for the workplace.
What is the best advice anyone ever gave you about success?
I attended a Business Women’s
(Promoters) gain confidence, communication skills and learn responsibility
Association event some years ago, and this quote from the guest speaker – Leanne Manas – stuck with me: “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there”.
Whenever I feel like I am in over my head, I think about this and see it as a growing opportunity.
How do you measure or define success in your business?
Referrals and return business is how I measure success. My company sells a service, and when customers return, this is an indication of successful service delivery and a genuine measure of success for me.
What are some of the best practices that have made your business successful?
Time management is a very important business practice. It is important to be able to determine what needs urgent attention versus what can wait.
What kind of advertising do you do?
Everything these days is online and on social media. We have our website and use Google to advertise our services along with social platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Word of mouth is extremely important in our industry and I find it to be the best and most honest advertising.
What are some of your highlights in running your business?
Generally we are part of the first few people who get to experience or see new products and be part of exciting events.
I have to say being a part of Ironman, which is so local to the Bay, is definitely a highlight. Being able to supply work for so many of our city’s youth is definitely up there as well.
Some of the other highlights we have had was being involved with the PE Ferrari Days, rubbing shoulders with some local celebrities like Jo Black (musician), working with Marius Roberts (TV personality) on the launch of the Lexus Turbo 2015, and my ultimate favourite highlight was when I was taken for a spin around the Scribante racetrack with Michael Briggs (multiple South African motorsport champion).
How many people do you employ?
We have about 400 promoters on our books across Port Elizabeth and East London.
How do you motivate staff?
We do regular training, and try to keep it lighthearted and fun.
Whenever we receive compliments after events or activations, we ensure we pass this on to the staff, and I like to share our work on social media to create pride among the staff for activations well executed.
How did you acquire funding for the business?
I have been very blessed to have had financial assistance from my family and husband when I first purchased PINK.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your business journey so far?
It is so important to be able to establish your cost vs benefit [model].
Sometimes you have to make tough decisions, but if you know what your end goal is, you know that there is a bigger picture.
What has been the greatest challenges and advantages of running your business in a city like PE?
The key challenge is that national clients seem to focus on larger cities such and Johannesburg and Cape Town. The advantage of working in a city like PE is that I have the ability to build real relationships with my clients and the city is small enough for me to attend activations and events with ease.
What do you think are the three key traits of a successful entrepreneur?
You have to have strong work ethics. You need to know your business’s finances and believe in yourself – totally.

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