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“OMG, what a fantastic business model. BUT NO ONE knows about it?”
This is what runs through our minds when small business owners come to our team with the same question; “We are not getting any new business, why?” Which we all know means no bread and butter on the table for any business, big or small.
The sad reality is just after just 30 minutes the truth is, most of these businesses have never marketed themselves, some even believed that there is no validity in marketing at all. Yet here they are sitting at our boardroom table in desperate attempts to get results or close their doors.
Secondly, there are 56.7million people in South Africa and 5.6 million SMMEs according to Businesstech, that’s a lot of people and a lot of businesses, and you’re one of them – but silent. The truth made simple is this, if you never told your friends or your family you got a tattoo on your lower back, they would never know you had it, right? If you never shout out about your service or product, you’re just hiding it from the world.
Marketing is a conversation that you and your business need to have with the world, it’s you saying, “Hi! I am a product and service, and I offer this, and this is where you can buy or find me”. Once you change your mindset that marketing is not just a f*!king waste of time – you will see that if done right, it’s you telling your story and inevitably is an integral part of your profitability in the long term.
Many will say, but everyone is marketing themselves so no one would see it. Yes, not EVERYONE will see it, but that is why you should be targeting your message to those that matter, and if your products or services are as good as you claim, word will travel and those you are marketing to will become your ambassadors.
By no means are we saying go wild, get out there and throw in hundreds of thousands into a marketing budget, we are just saying have a budget, to begin with, even if its small, as little as R500.00 p/m can get you more exposure than none. In this climate, every little bit helps.
Time, this is the other thing that most small businesses need to understand. With smaller budgets you need to allow time for your marketing to take effect, it will not happen overnight. With a little bit of patience and continued allocation of marketing time to your business, you will reap the rewards.
“So how can we market and make more profit?”, you may ask.
Each business is unique, having different target markets, offerings, services and on and off-peak seasons, but here are some free tips and advice to get you started; Marketing is not a once-off, it’s a continuous business activity. A monthly budget must be allocated even if it’s small. And when we say “allocated” (this is for you cynics out there), we’re not saying give it to us, we’re saying use it any which way makes sense to you to use it. Some people can market/communicate the benefits, differentiation, USPs and RTBs of there product versus another so well that they don’t need an agency to do it for them. But then there are those that haven’t been crafting this skill at all.
Billboards, TV and radio adverts are not the only ways to advertise. The advertising and marketing landscape has progressed from these traditional platforms. These traditional platforms are not obsolete by any means, but they are not your only options anymore. If you want free, below are some free or not so free channels that your business could use to market and attract new customers, in no specific order;
Social Media – Use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter for free or paid exposure. “But I don’t do Social Media?” Suck it up, princess. You may not do social, but does your business? How about your customers?
Did you know? More than 16 million South Africans are on Facebook alone, and that figure continuously grows every year. That means 1 in every 4th person you meet is on social media, that’s 3 to 4 times the amount of people living in Johannesburg. If you don’t think it’s worth your time and effort, then you probably have 10 million clients already?
WhatsApp – Another free one. Even though this is another social platform, have you created a message or unique offering that you can distribute to your contact list?
Website – Is your website up to date? A simple incorrect email or telephone number can be the cause of lost business. Check that your site provides information such as who you are, what you do and a contact us to allow people to find out more. (BTW, when we say you, we mean your brand, unless you are the brand).
Online directories – Use online directory platforms to get exposure. Create listings for your business and a small description. (Just a warning never place your email address on public search directories, unless you wish to be spammed.)
Google Adwords – Use Google Adwords and promote your site. You can set the limit and turn it on and off when you need to. When you create your ad remind yourself that people are exposed to 5000+ marketing messages and brands a day, so you need to appeal to their emotions to stand out. (Fact: ads that appeal to a target market on an emotional level sell better than facts)
Client Reviews – Ask your clients to review your business. People love to read others experiences and stories. Ask old and existing clients to review you on Facebook, Google, Zomato or Travelstart, depending on your business type. Consider even rewarding clients that do review you with a small discount. These reviews are priceless as they provide credibility and influence where your website is placed on search engines.
These are the basics doing business this side of the millennium. If you wish to accept some help in setting up the above or need new ways to market your business, or perhaps some candid honesty, give us a shout.