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Interview with Joshua Roode, Head of Marketing at The Pole Yard


Our April profile is Joshua Roode, seasoned digital marketer and since end 2018 Head of Marketing at The Pole Yard, a unique home-grown business specialising in outdoor timber and home improvements. With a strong focus on strategic business development he shares some of his insights from having spent the last ten years assisting various brands in developing effective digital marketing strategies.

Describe yourself in 3 words
Focused, Fun & Dedicated

Tell us a bit about your journey the past few years as Head of Marketing at The Pole Yard

The past few years have been filled with adventure and rediscovery as we were navigating our way through the chaos of covid-19.  Our focus was set on solutions and how we can remain relevant to our clients during a time when the market was being influenced by many factors.  All in all, the journey has been filled with excitement and the thrill of running a business in South Africa.

How did the pandemic affect the outdoor timber and home improvements industry?

The pandemic was a catalyst for a fairly big growth spurt in the outdoor timber and home improvements space. This sector boomed during the lockdowns and we were very fortunate to be able to stay open at times when other companies remained closed. An example of this was when the first lockdown was announced we had customers queuing out of our yards to get their orders and timber supplies. We are very grateful for the support of our clients during that time, and going forward.

How do you ensure that your marketing efforts in your stores and online are aligned?

We are constantly evolving and trying new things in order to keep the dynamic between what we do online in line with our in store experience. Our staff on the ground is key to this success as they really bring the vibe and ensure the customer’s needs are met. We then try and share some of this fun and client oriented service through our design and online messaging. We also make it our mission to follow up on every enquiry that comes through and hand them over to a sales staff member who sees it through to the end.

What are the biggest challenges that brick-and-mortar business face in setting up their online offering?

I see the pace and ability to adapt to change as the biggest challenge for a lot traditional businesses.  There is a great opportunity right now for smaller businesses to pivot into the online space and utilise powerful tools like WhatsApp to sell directly to their customers.  The learning curve may seem scary for some, but the rewards are worth it.

Which digital channels have you found to be most effective in attracting new customers and building brand awareness?
We have spent a lot time in nurturing and growing our audience on Facebook, along with Instagram. We have now started playing in the shorts form video space on TikTok. Our biggest lead generation point is still through Google and that is why it is so important to work with the right team in getting your lead and brand building in the online space set up correctly.

What differentiates a good-enough website from a great one?

Websites should constantly be evolving to accommodate the end user’s experience. Good-enough versus great is a matter of perspective. You won’t be able to keep every person happy, so the best is to try and create the least amount of friction for your clientele to get what they need from your site. It could be something as simple as adding a direct download button for your price-list or having a call-me-back request. With that being said, good websites generally have good imagery and keep it simple. Apple is a great example of this.

How would you describe your management style?

My leadership style is anchored deeply in a personal value set and ultimately I am here to serve my team mates. I know it is used a lot, but teamwork really makes the dreamwork. I have focused on building others and empower them to get the job done. It is way more valuable to focus on your strengths than to try and spend all your energy on your weaknesses. The self-awareness of your weak spots is important in order for you to tap into your team’s strength to fill in the gaps.

Best advice anyone has ever given you?

If you are going to eat an elephant, throw a party. If you eat it one piece at a time the meat will spoil and rot.

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