The majority of small business owners in South Africa cite failing to effectively market their business as their biggest mistake to-date. The two most significant factors contributing to this are cost and a lack of skills.
This is according to Alan Campbell, Marketing & Brand Strategist at Next Level Marketing, who notes that ineffective marketing is often to blame for the failure of 75% of the country’s small businesses.
“This is concerning because small businesses make up 91% of all formalised businesses in South Africa, and they provide employment for about 60% of the labour force and have a total economic output that accounts for roughly 34% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.”
Next Level Marketing focusses on providing small- to medium-sized enterprises with tailored solutions that establish in-house marketing capacity, whilst creating and implementing strategic marketing plans that deliver successful business outcomes.
Campbell explains that, in terms of a lack of skills impeding the effectiveness of this sector’s marketing efforts, entrepreneurs understand that marketing is an area of the business that they need to do something about, but are not quite sure what that is.
“Those who try do it themselves may not understand exactly who their customers are and what they want, with the result often being that they waste money on trying to reach inappropriate audiences and doing so through channels that do not deliver a return or add value to their business.”
The skills solution: outsource vs. in-house
Campbell says: “Many of these businesses cannot afford the services of a big marketing company. A common experience amongst those who have utilised agencies or consultants that do cater for small businesses is that the long-term return on their investment is poor. While the marketing campaign may be effective, once the engagement comes to an end, all of the skills and tools in which they have invested disappear with the service provider.”
“On the other hand, those who decide to recruit and hire a skilled marketing manager, have to outlay large sums of money, even before shelling out for marketing spend, to cover their hiring costs and salary. What’s more, going this route may not yield the desired results,” adds the Marketing & Brand Strategist.
It’s not surprising then that small business owners feel like their hands are tied.
How about a hybrid?
For many, the word hybrid may conjure up images of cars that combine fuel and electricity to derive their power. “Why can’t the same approach be used to drive small business marketing forward?” asks Campbell.
Next Level Marketing acts as an extension of the small business team – empowering and developing internal resources, whilst providing all the skills and expertise of a full outsourced partner. He explains: “The idea is that eventually the business will have the ability to execute the initial marketing strategy themselves while we add a different kind of value or take them in a different direction.”
“Small business owners need to spend their money wisely in this kind of marketing landscape because there are so many things they can do from developing a mobile app and websites, to SEO and email marketing. They really need to tap into their customers and truly understand who they are, where they spend their time and what questions they are asking. This will help define exactly where their marketing budget should be spent and ensure that the small business owner is the one to answer their customers questions,” shares Campbell.
He concludes: “Effective marketing is essential, not only for the success of these businesses, but also for the country as the Government envisions that the sector will provide 90% of much-needed jobs by 2030.”