#WIB – Q&A With Elsa Theron MD Of Plotsticker

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1. Can you please tell us more about your business?

A. Plotsticker is a dynamic, client-centric brand solution agency specialising (but not limited to) property marketing. We offer approachable, comprehensive, and strategic brand marketing solutions through creative direction, design, and production.

2. When, how and why did you start your business?

A. The business officially started operating as Plotsticker in Oct 2019 but our team has been working together on and off for the past six years.

Plotsticker originated as a result of the workable solutions we have provided to a range of clients through our clear approach.  We transformed from an internal marketing team into a creative direction and design studio.

3. What is your role in the business?

A. I am the Managing Director but prefer Storyteller as a title – ultimately this is my calling and passion. Nothing excites me more than connecting with clients, listening to their stories, and then brainstorming and strategizing around the best ways to bring their messages to life. I often become more of an extension to other marketing teams, than operating purely as a consultant.

As MD, I am also responsible for the business administration, cashflow management, content and artwork briefs, reporting, new business… and buying treats…no creative team can operate without biscuits, ice cream, or bubbly.

4. Where did you study and what did you study?

A. I completed my Public Relations Management degree at CPUT, did a short course in Social Media with UCT Getsmarter and a Business Finance Fundamentals course from Stellenbosch Business School.

5. How did you finance your business?

A. Growing from an internal marketing department, the business grew to be self- sufficient. With the help from a silent partner, security was offered in the case of a shortfall.  We took over the existing client base and service external clients. 

6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.

A. I do the school run for my twin girls who are in grade 1 and then drive from Paarl to Stellenbosch.  The drive allows me to make phone calls to check-in with clients. I also tend to work in a call to a friend or sibling – it’s important to stay in touch with the world – where else will stories come from? The time in my car is also where a lot of ideas start brewing – or crystalize.

At the office, I check my diary and to-do lists and prioritise my tasks and day. I tackle responses to email over coffee and get all my material ready for client meetings. Our project manager and I work side-by-side – she is literally my right hand.  We run through lists, artwork, and content to be briefed…and then we skype the secret deadlines and updates to each other so the creatives can concentrate on their creative “zone”.

Other than this, very few days are the same. I am in many conversations and planning discussions with clients and I then brief this back into the studio. We share an office with our main client, Similan, and a lot of plotting and planning happens on-the-go with their team.

And then, during the evenings, when my house is quiet, I often work on briefs, plans, and content reviews.  It is such a privilege to do what I love and to work alongside awesome people. I disagree that when you do what you love, you won’t work a day in your life – you will actually work super hard but would not mind doing so.

7. How do you balance your home life and your work life?

A. You just do. There is no perfect recipe and at some point, we all feel super guilty – you are never 100% at home or 100% at work. I’ve reached a point where I decided that this is also okay. I know that I try to do the best with what I have in front of me, at every given point. Fortunately, I also have an incredibly supportive husband who understands how much I love him, but also how important my work is to me, and us. I also see a life coach on a regular base, where I can vent and reflect and this has empowered me to dig deep and realise that I am not weak, but actually very brave to confront my own insecurities.

I try to do work in some exercise (some weeks are simply better than others – but nothing like breaking a good sweat to get your focus back).   And then, you need cheerleaders! Great friends that will help you out, tell you that you are doing a good job, encourage you to go to the gym, who will pop in for a glass of bubbly, and will hug you on the days when you really just need a big fat hug. My colleagues are also my cheerleaders – we do life together and I am really proud of this culture that we were able to establish.

8. What drives you and inspires you?

A. Stories. Since I was a child, I could not get enough of it. It can be wrapped in theatre production, my friends telling me about their lives, the lyrics of songs, reading to my kids … even watching soapies.

My over-active mind drives me – connecting the dots and finding ways to share stories. This probably explains why I’m a 95% extrovert, sensitive person with a very busy mind.

9. Where and when do you have your best ideas?

A. Mostly in my car or late at night. 

10. Where and how do you market/advertise your business for sales leads?

A. We’ve been privileged to get work by referral. We also have a social media presence. And then we network and have been asked to pitch for work and have almost always landed the business.

11. What is next for your business?

A. We offer a menu of services – I meet so many people who run successful businesses that don’t know how to prioritize their branding and marketing needs.  We want to assist people to make the most effective budget decisions. And assist them with an applicable roadmap and “plot sticker”.

 12. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business?

A. Make sure you do what you are really good at because you need passion and drive to run a business. Also remain very good at what you do. Very few businesses have a super unique idea/offering – so you can choose to be scared of being one of many or you can work to be one of the best of the many.

And then you need to understand the money part of it – because sometimes you simply have to make non-emotional good business decisions. Be kind. Be strong. Be brave. We owe it to ourselves.