Briefly introduce yourself, what is the nature of your business?
NGAGE is an award-winning full-service marketing agency that specialises in technical industries.
What inspired the launch of your business?
My (now) husband and I decided to put our skills together, he was a marketing manager for a mine access control company, and I was working as a journalist for a mining & engineering trade magazine. We found a gap in the marketing for an industrial specialist agency.
How did you know there was a market for it?
While working as a journalist, my husband Russell and I spotted a gap in the market for a public relations agency with knowledge of technical industries. Most of the press releases that I received from agencies were poorly written and needed to be rewritten before they could be published. 14 years later, we are recognised as The Agency For Industry. We have worked with amazing brands like Harmony Gold, Afrox, Gold Fields, Cummins and Pratley, to name just a few.
How did you raise startup capital?
Luckily we didn’t need any. We literally started out using the yellow pages and looking for companies to cold call! We took it, one client, at a time and made sure to prove ourselves quickly to the companies that chose to work with us.
Describe your business model and how you make money?
Selling a service is, I believe, much more difficult than selling a product. NGAGE is made up of an amazing team of professionals who provide public relations, social media, online marketing, video production, general marketing and advertising & design services to clients in the mining, engineering, construction and agriculture sectors. We do not lock clients on lengthy contracts but work on a month to month basis. This makes us work hard to deliver results for our clients.
What challenges has the business faced and how did it overcome them?
We have survived two recessions and faced tough times. Key is to operate lean and work hard for clients so that, even if they do have to cancel because of economic conditions, they come back when things improve.
What was the business’s first big breakthrough?
Landing Harmony Gold as one of our first clients was definitely a breakthrough. We were hired to manage the media around Kabelo Road to the Comrades campaign in 2006. The client was so impressed with the results that we were kept on for 5 years, and our scope grew to include community and CSI relations.
Another highlight was winning two Gold PRISM awards in our very first year of entering the awards. I was awarded Best PR Professional in Media Liaison, and NGAGE won for best Small PR Agency.
What online tools/apps is business using daily?
Our social media department uses a host of tools to manage our clients’ social media pages every day, and we developed our own media liaison tool, our Media Zone Page, which is an online portal that hosts all of our clients’ press releases, high-resolution images, videos, etc for easy media access.
What marketing strategy has proven profitable for your business?
As a startup, you don’t have the luxury of a strategy and budget for marketing. We push sales as much as we can and cold call companies daily to look for opportunities. We also work hard on our social media pages and website to market ourselves. Over the years, word of mouth has brought in many new clients, as we work in a very small industry, and if you provide good service to one company, they will tell others.
What remains a challenge for your business today?
Training remains a challenge. With a larger team, it’s important that our team provides clients with the same service that they would expect from working with the directors. It is an ongoing challenge to find the right people and train them well. We try to provide a great working environment to keep everyone happy and retain staff, such as flexible working hours for senior staff (while junior and admin employees get one day off per month for admin). We have popcorn Friday’s and provide daily fruit to keep everyone healthy, among other things.