Category Archives: Sales

Big month, and a big sponsorship sale

In March I exhibited and presented Paperight to matric students and teachers of Cravenby Secondary School alongside leading publishers, such as MML and OUP. The students were very interested in my exhibition and showed a keen interest in my presentation on the Paperight Young Writers’ Anthology.

After months of correspondence, I managed to arrange a meeting with the Head of the Cape Town Library Services alongside Arthur. The aim was to see how Paperight could work with the Library Services with the possibility of integrating into their SmartCape internet service. The meeting was a success in that we impressed them but, the process has come to a standstill due to bureaucracy inherent in government institutions. The possibility of a partnership remains open for the future.

Nick and I had worked closely on many tasks and we reached a stage where we required someone to bridge the gap between Nick’s position and my own. The aim was to improve communication to outlets, customers and the public at large. Having learned many lessons from our experience with the PR Consultant, we had a relatively clear idea of what we could achieve PR-wise.

Seeing her become, what I consider to be, the most productive member of the Paperight team has been amazing to experience.

The discovery of Marie-Louise Rouget is one of my proudest moments at Paperight. Marie-Louise had no marketing or PR experience to speak of but, she demonstrated a clear passion and drive to contribute positively towards society – something we could all relate to at Paperight. Seeing her become, what I consider to be, the most productive member of the Paperight team has been amazing to experience. I believe that Marie-Louise has discovered talents within herself that she may not have realised that she had fearlessness and a determination to get things done.

When I realised that we required more creative ways of selling Paperight products, Arthur gave me the opportunity to enrol in an “Effective Selling Strategies” course by LMI and facilitated by Chalwyn Vorster of TMF. The course allowed me to improve my time management, organise my sales pipeline and most importantly to give me the confidence to sell whilst maintaining my own morals and values.

Pelican Park High informed me that they would like to place an order for their learners who wish to purchase past exam packs. I collected the order form, delivered it to Minuteman Press Cape Town and received payment from Pelican Park High. When the books were printed and ready, I collected four learners from Pelican Park High to accompany me in collecting the books from Minuteman Press Cape Town.

Nick met us there to take photos for a press release that we had planned. The press release was circulated in the Minuteman Press internal franchise newsletter which led to several Minuteman Press outlets in South Africa signing up with Paperight. Upon collecting the books, the owner of Minuteman Press requested that we assist him in identifying a needy school in the Western Cape that he could possibly sponsor in some way.

When I got back to our offices, I googled “worst matric results in cape 2012.” I found a newspaper article that identified Silverstream Secondary in Manenberg as a poor performing school in 2012. I contacted the school to find that the principal had left the school and an H.O.D. was acting head of the school. I met with the H.O.D. to discuss the situation of the school and their needs in order to determine if this is the type of school that Minuteman Press Cape Town would want to sponsor.

I determined that they are a needy school and deserving of assistance, so I contacted the owner of Minuteman Press Cape Town and arranged for him to meet with the H.O.D. at the school personally. After this meeting took place, we determined which books would be sponsored and how many according to the budget that was available for the sponsorship.

Slow start to the year

I spent the most of my time in January 2013 completing the outlet-wide survey which I had started in December. December and January are very quiet months for books sales, not only at Paperight but also traditional bookstores.

We collaborated with an entrepreneur from the Eastern Cape to arrange for Paperight branded-signage to be fitted to his outlet. Our correspondence with him lasted several months because, he wanted signage according his own design. I feel that our goodwill was abused during this correspondence and we subsequently decided to halt our plans to assist small businesses by supplying them with Paperight branded signage.

Children’s book cost too much, and in unrelated news we take a break

After Arthur and Tarryn met with The Shine Centre, they asked us to explore the possibility of purchasing books from Revprint Claremont. The Shine Centre is an NGO that caters for foundation phase readers and their budget required that we have books printed in colour at very low prices. Revprint was unable to assist as the books’ prices would need to be below cost.

With the year drawing to a close and most businesses and customers who work with outlets going in holiday, Paperight went into admin mode. I started an outlet-wide survey to determine the demographics of the outlets that had registered with us. I also wanted to ensure that the information we had was correct. The survey took nearly 2 months to complete due to outlets being notorious for dodging telephone calls.

IMG_2451_tnWe also did what we all struggle to do naturally, we took a break. We had our staff picnic at the edge of the freezing Pacific Ocean at Oudekraal. What we learned from this was that we all loved food and that we really need to learn to take a break every now and then. We still struggle to take it easy.

Signage, photos, and a great school contact

In our efforts to produce positive stories from communities that need them most, we decided to sponsor Paperight-branded signage for small copy shops. The aim was to help them attract more business to their stores by increasing their visibility and creating some publicity around the project.

paperight_minuteman-press_press-photo_20131113An entrepreneur from Mdanstane in the Eastern Cape was featured in a Daily Dispatch article. We had hired a PR consultant to assist us with our publicity and to learn from her. A photo shoot was organised at Minuteman Press Cape Town for stock photos. I arranged for my younger sister and her friends to wear their school uniforms and drove them to the venue. The stock photos gave some of our design work a more professional quality.

In November I was also contacted and met with Mr. Cader Tregonning, the principal at Pelican Park High School. Mr. Tregonning had recently been appointed as head of the school and had a vision for turning it into an academically competitive school. He heard about Paperight and wanted to have Exam Packs printed for all his matric students the following year. Mr. Tregonning was so determined to have past exams for his learners that he added it into the budget which is given to all the parents, in order that they be prepared financially for the following year.

We’re on TV!

In October I had my first opportunity to train a staff member at Paperight, when Abdul-Malik requested training from me. This was as much a learning experience for me as it was for him. It also allowed me to practice and improve my training ability.

October was also the month when we made our first television appearance since I had joined. I accompanied nick along to HecticNine9 studios and watched him from behind the scenes as he introduced the Paperight concept to South Africa. We watched the number of visitors to our website spike to a then highest number of visitors to our site.

The television appearance and other publicity we received led to a sharp increase in private individuals registering for the Paperight service. We made a decision to screen those who register as outlets even more deliberately and to be more specific in our messaging, getting the B2B point across.

It was at this time that I suggested that we add a sub-accounts capability to the Paperight website. This would make it easier for an owner of an outlet to monitor the activity of his staff and for a franchisor to monitor the activity of franchisees. This feature was later added to our website.

Book reviews and advertising

In our efforts to foster reading of Paperight-edition books within the Paperight team, we decided to start staff book reviews for our blog. I read and wrote my first ever book review on Sun Tzu’s: The Art of War.

We designed and distributed our first ever targeted advertising for Exam Packs at selected High Schools. The printing was done by the outlets advertised on the leaflets and the leaflets were placed in an envelope containing learners’ academic results. We sold very few books using this method and decided against using it again in future, as it was also a time consuming exercise for this low-pay out activity.

Upgrading the outlets map

In August we upgraded our outlets map from the primitive version that I had created myself to a WordPress-integrated version of Google Maps on our help site. This meant many hours locating outlets’ GPS-coordinates and updating our WordPress site. When it was done, we had a much more professional looking outlets map.

TSiBA had also requested that we offer internships to some of their students which meant that I had the opportunity to screen and interview them. Unfortunately, none of the applicants showed the necessary passion and desire to contribute meaningfully to our journey but, I personally learned a lot by going through that experience.

In our quest to find cheap ways of spreading awareness on Paperight, I located the application form for the teen TV show HecticNine9 and forwarded it to Nick. Nick filled in the application form and it was duly accepted. Our slot on the show was scheduled for October 2012.

Jetline comes on board

Our most valuable product at this stage by far was our past matric exam packs. We determined that we needed to focus on encouraging the sales of our exam packs. To do this, Nick designed our first school order form which was to be used by outlets for approaching schools and selling exam packs.

During this month, I had a meeting with Saki at Jetline Tygerberg to discuss the possibility of an outletwide partnership between Jetline and Paperight. This meeting was a success with Jetline informing us that they intend to register their entire network with Paperight and providing printing at highly reduced prices.

After three months of the outlet team working together, it became clear that we needed to reorganise in order to improve communication and productivity. After consulting with the rest of the team, Arthur decided that the best way to do this was to narrow the team down to the originally intended single outlet manager, as Outlet Development Manager.

We were asked to draw up proposals for what we would do in the coming months if we were to be granted that position. After all the proposals were submitted, I was fortunate to be given the position as the Outlet Development Manager. This meant that all activities related to outlets were now solely my responsibility.

Getting better at training outlets

On 5 June 2012, we presented the rescheduled training with Silulo store managers. Zimkita presented this training in isiXhosa as this was the home language of the store managers, whilst Zukisani and I assisted when manager were stuck. After the initial training, several Silulo managers voiced the need for training again as they weren’t fully comfortable with the website.

We recognised that we may have either had a problem with our training method or our website not user-friendly. Therefore, we arranged for a follow-up training session which was presented by Arthur and attended by a few Silulo managers. Despite these setbacks, Silulo Ulutho sold hundreds of matric exam packs and our correspondence with them led to our decision to break down exam packs into single-year versions.

Zukisani and Zimkita had connected with the owner of African Axxess in Langa. Due to the close proximity of African Axxess to Langa Secondary School, we also held a presentation at the school in conjuction with African Axxess. This time we used a flip chart instead of a projector and didn’t cater for attendees. The presentation went very smoothly and we have more attendees at this presentation than the one at Silulo.

Early attempts at franchise collaboration

May 2012 was a very eventful month for Paperight. We launched our website v1.0, Michelle Carstens of The Office Crew became the first outlet to top up her Paperight account and the marketing manager of Jetline registered with Paperight. All three of these events had particular significance for me.

It had been my idea to create an outlets map and I was in charge of placing the outlets on our original map. The Office Crew was an outlet which I introduced to Paperight and became our first VIP outlet. I believe the reason for this is that The Office Crew had an outlet owner who was passionate about Paperight and it was close to my home. This meant that I could give them close attention and get feedback from them regularly.

Jetline had already on my list of potential franchises to approach when, a publisher recommended that we contact Jetline and forwarded a contact number to us. This was the start of what led to our biggest outlet partnership yet.

I headed to Durban for two weeks to collect my car and in the process visits and sign up outlets face to face. During this visit I learned that outlets require at least two visits to have them buy in to Paperight effectively. The first visit to introduce them to our concept and the second to answer questions they might have thought of and physically training them how to use the service.

In the meantime, Zukisani and Zimkita were in Cape Town completing the tasks laid out in the Silulo Marketing plan. The main highlights of our plan were a presentation with H.O.D.’s from various schools in the area and a training session with the managers of the various Silulo Ulutho branches.

The training with the managers was postponed due to a miscommunication between Zukisani and Lonwabo (a director at Silulo Ulutho). The presentation took place right after I had returned from Durban which meant that I also had the opportunity to be involved. Zimkita was the MC whilst Zukisani and I each had a portion in the presentation.

Only 4 of the 40 H.O.D.’s that were invited attended. We made the mistake of supplying catering for 200 people and the projector for the presentation wasn’t properly organised. We also had Paperight-branded mugs and chocolates made for the H.O.D.’s and Paperight team. The biggest lessons that we learned from this is to manage our promotional spending better and to utilise resources that are fully in our control as much as possible.