GinjaNinjas – proudly standing out in the crowd

Samantha Hogg-Brandjes, Managing Director of GinjaNinja, talks about the long road to business success and why PR is so high on the cost-effective on a company’s marketing and promotions index. 

What motivated you to start your business?

I started my business because I wanted to create a better life for my family and build some financial security. It wasn’t just about what the market needed, but also about what I needed personally. I felt confident about taking the leap because I’m good at connecting with people, and I have a talent for coming up with creative ideas that work. Looking back, I’m grateful for how far my career has come, and if I could give advice to my younger self, I’d say, “Think even bigger and don’t be afraid to dream beyond the horizon!”

What is the best business advice you’ve ever received?

Getting advice from my business coach, Keegan Moodley from Grow Impact, has consistently proven invaluable. Yet, I can confidently state that the most impactful choice I’ve made for my business was the decision to bring a coach on board and commit to a continuous learning journey.

Could your business survive and thrive if you were absent for six months… and what have been some of the big challenges you have faced recently?

Absolutely, thanks to the strategies and processes I’ve implemented post-Covid, the business is solid for the next six months. Dealing with loadshedding in a business park is tricky and costly, but we’re navigating it. Surprisingly, Covid turned out to be a growth phase, and we saw a 48% surge. Our focus on technology really paid off during the pandemic, driving a big part of this growth.

Do you, as an owner, feel you are being adequately compensated for your risk?

Approaching the 21-year mark of working on my own, I’ve learned not to fixate on the self-employed aspect. The perpetual dance with risk has become part of the routine. Financially, I’ve taken precautions by having insurance coverage and maintaining a well-structured business. I make it a point to thoroughly assess all aspects each month, leaving no room for oversight.

“Covid turned out to be a growth phase, and we saw a 48% surge. Our focus on technology really paid off during the pandemic, driving a big part of this growth.”

Could you sell your business today for the price you want?

The business is by far my biggest asset and I believe it holds more value than my property portfolio. On a long-term basis, I would definitely sell it for several times its paper value. 

What are the challenges your industry faces?

PR is generally misunderstood when it comes to its impact on the bottom line and in adding value to the overall business. We fight the stigma of PR being the poor cousin to advertising and do it well by delivering across all our clients each and every month. I wrote a book titled “Making Hotdogs: a quirky guide to building a career in PR and making life fucking awesome”. This was partly a memoir, business advice guide and mostly an education tool telling people about the power of PR. The more businesses see it working, the more they will consider it themselves. I have a team within the agency dedicated to doing PR for the business too.

How did you go about positioning your brand so that you stand out?

Well, the name GinjaNinja is, for a start, a great ice breaker. What sets us apart is my unapologetically unique style and approach, backed by a team that walks the talk. Honesty, ethics, and unwavering integrity define our service, fostering genuine connections. We proudly stand out in the crowd – a quirky bunch who excel at what we do. A fusion of serious smarts and creative magic makes us a force to reckon with. Businesses recognise the Ninjas as excellent PR people, it’s hard to emulate that unless you join us.

What is the key to sustainable growth in the industry?

Businesses need to know that PR is the silver bullet missing in their marketing arsenal.  It is cost- effective and consistently delivers. When people start with PR first, before social and advertising, then we will know that our messages have been heard and we are seen. 

What is your secret to building a reliable upstream supply chain or supplier network?

Central to our partnership is mutual respect, reinforced by a harmonious alignment of business values: unwavering integrity, ethical conduct, and a sharp focus on specialisation. Loyalty further solidifies our bond, as we wholeheartedly commit to nurturing collective growth.

How has access to funding (or a lack of funding) helped or hindered the growth of your business?

I built the business without funding for 20 years and am reluctant to ever opt for a finance model. Cash flow is probably a small business’ biggest challenge, but I am doing everything in my power to ensure that we never end up in a situation where we need funding. Of course, if it is part of a growth strategy and it makes sense in the long-term, then absolutely.