Making an impact with a small marketing budget

Marketing is becoming increasingly more digital. Magazine pages are being turned into interactive ads and billboards are getting the same treatment.

British Airways, for example, designed a billboard that tracked their planes flying overhead, while relief organisation Misereor combined visual animation and a call to action to raise awareness and money for their cause.

One cannot help but marvel at these exceptional examples of creativity, but you could be left feeling a bit out the digital loop if you’re running a small business on an even smaller budget.

After all, how are you supposed to compete, not necessarily with big brands, but any competitor that can afford to create marketing that moves, shakes and flashes?

You might think it’s not possible, but it most certainly is. The answer is three-fold and the last point could surprise you:

Harness social media

Using social media to market your business lets you step into the digital marketing world without having to fork out thousands. You can do it free if you do it yourself or make it a function of the business, or outsource it to an individual or agency if the funds are available.

To make social media work for you, you’d need to marry the type of business you’re running with the best social medial channel for it. A B2b business, for example, would benefit most from LinkedIn, but not necessarily from Twitter or even Facebook.

Team up

There is a high probability that you would be able to find a business in your city or town that complements yours. Find them and approach them with a proposal to work together on an event that would get the word out about both your companies.

The most obvious solution would be an event, like a charity run. Hosting an industry talk or expo is another option, while monthly meet-ups for industry leaders is worth investigating too.

Invest in ‘old school’ signage

Marketing methods may be more innovative than before, but more traditional advertising, like vehicle wraps and banners definitely still have their place in the mix. The trick is to decide what the goal of your marketing campaign is and to then pick the best way to achieve it.

For instance, a great way to create brand awareness would be branded merchandise that you give to customers. This could be bags, t-shirts, or anything else that the person will carry with them on a regular basis.

Once you’ve decided how the goal should be chased, enlist a company that does signage in Johannesburg, Cape Town or any other city around the country to help you design memorable marketing material.

Do it right and you’ll only have to spend once to get an excellent return on your investment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking your start-up to the next level

A new business starts out as an idea. A small seed.

No matter how innovative your idea is, it needs work. You want your start-up to turn into a grownup – a thriving business that can stand on its own legs.

No matter how brilliant that original seed is, it needs certain elements to grow into a sturdy organisation.  Too many potentially great start-ups never get to that next level. Don’t let that happen to you. Here’s how to make sure your start-up gets the sustenance it needs.

Team

If you are an entrepreneur building on your start up, chances are good that part of what drew you to this path was the independence it promised. Being your own boss and doing it on your own is an exciting step, but that doesn’t mean you can carry the whole world on your shoulders. You are only as strong as the people on your team.

This obviously doesn’t mean you should employ people left, right and centre. The bigger your staff, the more salaries you need to pay and the more complicated things get. Rather think in terms of collaboration.  What skills can you bring from the outside that will help turn your project into something greater than what you would have been capable of by yourself?

One more word of advice: only bring along people who share your vision.

Business model

Having and growing an idea obviously requires creativity. The innovative aspect of start-ups is always given a lot of attention and there is a strong relationship between creativity and entrepreneurship. However, no matter how creative and brilliant your idea, don’t neglect the more boring, practical elements. In fact, don’t think of them as boring at all.

The important thing is having a good, solid business model. A business model should be at the heart of your business strategy. However, it can’t be a pie in the sky attempt. It needs to spell outs how your start up is going to create, deliver, and capture value.

Funding

If your business idea is a seed, think of cash flow as the nourishing water it needs. Without it, your fledgling business will wither and die. Unfortunately, cash isn’t going to fall down from the sky. Start-ups often rely on investments. If that is lacking, there are other avenues such as business finance from financial institutions that can help you get to where you need to be. However, for your start up to become a grownup, it is imperative that you are able to monetise your product and eventually rely on its own capital.

When all these elements in place, you will be well on your way to impressing the world with your new product. Your start-up should always have the right people on board, the strategy of a well-laid out business model, and the cash flow to keep things running smoothly.

Bait, hook, and reel in customers with your advertising

The chances are good that you spend a significant amount on advertising, so you want to make sure you are getting a good return on your investment.

Advertising is tricky business because for every one way to do it right there are 99 ways to do it wrong.

How do you motivate people to not only pay attention, but also perform your call-to-action? How about taking a lesson from the fishermen and first bait, then hook, and then reel your customer in.

The bait

Your advertising has to have something that gets people’s attention. Remember that your audience is bombarded by marketing stimuli throughout the day. There is a lot of competition for your customers’ attention and you have to have the right bait.

This seems obvious, and yet there is so much advertising out there that doesn’t elicit more than a cursory glance – even from the target audience. Every situation presents unique challenges. For instance, signage companies in Johannesburg understand that they have to contend with stiff competition for ad space because there is so much going on in the big city.

On the flip side, don’t try too hard to catch someone’s eye. If there’s too much going on, all vying for attention, your potential customer could quite likely not want to bother sparing an extra minute to decipher what’s going on.

You need just enough to bait your audience, without overwhelming them to the point that they swim the other way.

The hook

So you have an eye-catching element in your poster or a clever pun in your radio? Good, now that you’ve baited your audience member and have their attention, give them a good reason to give your advert serious consideration. Your advertising needs a hook, which is your message or purpose.

For your advert to hook someone in, it needs to really speak to that person. It needs to be relevant and significant for your target audience.  Therefore, it is imperative that you know your target market. Don’t just try to grab any and everyone’s attention. If you try to be relevant to everyone, you wind up being relevant to no one.

Your poster needs to hook someone in and not let go.

Reeling them in

So you’ve baited and hooked your customer, now what? It doesn’t help for someone to show interest in your advert but then never take it further. In other words, you want your audience to follow through with a specific call-to-action.

This isn’t the same thing as your message. It’s what makes your audience member unable to go back to their old life as if they’d never come across your advertising. There needs to be the idea that they are going to be rewarded in some way for following through.

You need to decide carefully what your-call-to-action is going to be. Do you want someone to check out your Facebook page, call you, make a purchase, attend an event, or just remember your brand name? Don’t include too many call-to-actions though. It needs to be as simple a process as possible to get reeled in.

If your advertising can bait your audience’s attention, hook them with its message, and reel them in to complete a call-to-action, then congratulations, you have nailed the art of effective advertising.

The business of management

There are fewer things more important than proper management. It seems like a discipline that is primarily for more skilled people or those with experience; yet what matters isn’t just having management but effective management.

Global management consulting film, McKinsey and Company did extensive research into just this and came up with measured results. The result

“shows that the core elements of management can be assessed and scored and that well-managed firms have higher productivity, market value, and growth, as well as a greater ability to survive adverse conditions, such as global financial recessions. Our research further indicates that more than 80 percent of all productivity variation occurs within a given sector for a given country and that there’s a “long tail” of persistently badly managed firms in all countries and across all sectors. These findings suggest a significant potential for management-led productivity improvements in every country on Earth.”

The question is, what does bad management actually look like? We can’t just say it’s a “bad business” because something led to that business being bad. According to Mind Tools, good managers are encouraging and engage with their employees – this shows both that they have a handle on the situation of their employees’ work as well as the employees themselves.

This benefits in two ways: the first is by knowing what your employees are actually doing, it means you have a greater handle on all work in general. Second, by knowing your employees, you can better steer them to get the work done. For example, if you know an employee is stressed because of a home situation, it might be better for everyone – the employee and the business – to help put that work on to someone else or at least reduce his workload. In that way, the work gets done and the employee is treated with respect.

Bad managers however do bad things. As Bloomberg Business highlights: “Bad managers don’t say these things. Helpful, encouraging, and trust-based words and phrases don’t occur to them.”

Rather they threaten employees.

“Lousy managers… love to remind employees that it’s all about the transaction: ‘You work for me.’ They never fail to remind team members that someone else would take the job if you ever got sick of it or let the lousy manager down in some way.”

Of course managers have to themselves manage many things. For example, those who handle fleet management say “time spent on administration has increased in last 12 months”, according to Fleet Point.

Nonetheless, managers need to care about how they operate and treat their employees – because you can’t separate a manager who mistreats his employees from bad businesses. Poor management is poor management – and poor management is detrimental to a business’ success.

Finding the right pay-out service provider

If you run a business, you have to make payments at some point, whether it is to staff or suppliers. Processing your payments individually is time-consuming and labour-intensive, which uses up valuable resources. That’s why you would turn to a pay-out provider. However, you must also make sure you have the right service provider that will help you make your payments safely, cost-effectively and conveniently.

Cost effective

Multiple payment transactions add up and cost you money. Going through your local bank might seem like a convenient and simple solution, but if you do the math that can actually be an expensive option. There are other service providers that will be more cost-effective, so you will want to work with a service provider that minimises that cost. Make sure you understand what the cost per transaction is going to (as well as any other “hidden” costs) and make sure it is less than what you would pay at the bank.

Manageable and convenient

You payment system should be simple and easy-to-use – even without hiring an IT technician for the job.  Look for a service-provider that gives you a user-friendly interface and a simple system so that you can stay in control of your pay-outs. For instance, if you need to change someone’s salary you want to be able to do this easily on your end, without having to call your provider to manually implement every tiny little alteration.

Security

Both you and the people you pay need the peace of mind that payments will be transferred safely at all times. Remember that it’s not only the protection of the cash that is vital, but private information as well. Your pay-out service should use the latest security software.

If EFT payments are going through an online services provider, the platform needs to make use of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) so that data is encrypted. And the link to the bank needs to be over secure and private connections when processing pay-outs.

Reliable

It’s important that you have complete control over your EFT payments at all times, preferably 24/7, without the nuisance of trying to log onto slow banking systems on payday. It is also imperative that payments are made consistently and reliably on time, every time.

Fast payments

Individually processing payments is time-consuming. Your pay-out system needs to be able to make multiple transactions almost instantaneously, at the push of a button. Especially have a large number of employees, vendors, suppliers and contractors to pay.

The day-to-day administration is necessary for the smooth running of your business, but it can take time and money. Streamlining the process with the right pay-out system will not only save you time and money, but give you peace of mind as well.