In the time it takes you to read this sentence 20m emails have been sent. That’s why marketing research shows it’s essential for your business to stand out and be top of mind. I met up with Veejay Archary, MD of Black Africa Brand Strategy Design. His company has been successful for over a decade. In fact, the South African government is part of its vast clientele. The other industry expert for this article is Jandre De Beer MD of V8 Media a leading Digital Marketing and Consulting Agency. Jandre has a staggering audience of over 20k social media followers. With the use of his marketing research knowledge, he has grown an audience from 0 to over 300 000 in less than 2 years.
I also talked to the mastermind behind South Africa’s first online printing shop! Alexander Knieps, Founder and CEO of Printulu. Alex has an MSc degree and in 3 years he has built a client base of over 10 000. Alex is also a recipient of the coveted Forbes 30 under 30 title. These 3 individuals are part of Johannesburg’s top business and marketing experts. They succeeded in turning their ideas into sustainable and lucrative businesses. They gave me insider info! Keep reading if you are a market research company and if you want 5 easy steps on how SMEs and startups can double their ROI.  

Man working on laptop, smiling

Step 1. Get creative with your brand

Your USP is your unique selling point, your x-factor! Be unique. This sounds cliche, but a unique brand ensures you create your own space in the business world. Creativity means being authentic, personal and emotional about your brand. Jandre says, “In a world where there is unlimited innovation and access to information. The average consumer is becoming immune to marketing messages.” So standing out from the crowd has never been more important. Marketing research proves having a USP will make consumers more attentive. They will be eager to know about your brand. To do this Veejay advises on curating a specific brand premise. Alex’s pro tip for marketing success is; “finding one funnel with a mix of different channels that work for you”. In Printulu’s case, it is a balanced mix of IT, Brand and Team.

 Step 2. Get Online NOW!

“If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business” Bill Gates. Get your business online! SMEs and start-ups with limited budgets can reach a large part of their audience online. The convenience and time-saving aspects of e-commerce make consumers gravitate towards your brand. One of Printulu’s main attributes to its success. But, marketing research and digital marketing can get pricey, luckily, there are ways to override this.
Veejay says a good market research company should strive to get involved on the board level. Another aspect is to be critical about finances before taking on marketing strategies. “Be lean with your budget” Jandre advises to always analyse revenue vs resources. Being online means you can also see what your competitor is up to. “Your competitor is not all bad”, Alex suggests. “Knowing what your competitor is doing is useful; copying is not.”Use this insight to leverage your brand.

Step 3. How to make 100 sales from 100 Rand, HELP?

In South Africa’s tight economy, most monetary decisions rely on affordability and utility. Marketing should also be measured against those parameters. Alex suggests that a start-up can begin using offline marketing. This is because it is a viable method. “Go out and sell in person.” He himself started in an incubator space, Starbucks, with his flyers and business cards at hand. Jandre also had a limited budget for his first business. He notes Facebook is an affordable tool that small businesses can use to gain and reach an audience. As for partnerships, don’t overlook their benefits. Partnerships are good for increasing your marketing revenue and possibilities. They can be the difference between a successful and failed marketing venture.

know your audience

Step 4. Are you reaching the right people?

Businesses that are successful have identified and honed in on their target audience. Alex elaborates further on this point by stating that it’s important to understand your dream client. An advantage of selling in person is the ability to understand and observe your audience. It’s important to know your audience and have access to them without being dependent on a large marketing budget.

I asked Jandre about how V8 media has a sustainable audience. He replies with a stellar analogy; “imagine renting vs buying a house”. If you have a house; your social media pages, newsletters and website you can access your audience even when the budget is low. Versus renting a house; the audience gained via tv or radio ads. Understanding that your audience is split up is also an important aspect of making sure your marketing strategy is relevant.
Veejay refers to their latest client and shows me the marketing material. He elaborates that your audience is split up into categories and subcategories. For example women; there’s the mom, student or teacher who can all use a product for various uses and justifications. Your brand should appeal to your split audience. Understand the desires of your audience and provide targeted solutions to their needs. This is very important in gaining leverage over your competitors. Veejay, adds the importance of knowing your client’s pain points and studying them to maintain brand relevance. Brand relevance ensures that the brand resonates with its split audience. For example, a mom who goes to the garage to buy school lunch items and clubbers who go to the garage to get cigarettes and energy drinks. Marketing should cater to all audiences.

Step 5. Rome wasn’t built in a day

The last, but not least important tip for gaining an advantage over your competitors, is to be patient and relaxed. Yes, I mean spend time out to read your favourite blogs and ours.  Alex spends time meditating and blocking out some time in his calendar to not have meetings. “Busy does not equal productivity”.
Jandre partakes in Marketing Mastermind. A selected group of thought leaders in the industry meet up regularly to discuss and exchange ideas. Veejay has a very relaxed atmosphere at their Black Africa Group offices. This is to ensure there is a good balance for the demanding, fast-paced world of marketing.

Man reading a book in the park

Put in place these steps into your business strategy and model. They will help leverage your business and it’s a competitive advantage – whether it’s a start-up or SME. It’s also important to have your niche market; what you do and why. Stay ahead of marketing research and industry trends. You can do this through daily reading, research and networking. As Alex, Jandre and Veejay prove, a start-up can turn into a lucrative and successful business with sustainable growth.
Fun Fact: Marketers who use blogging generate up to 67% more leads and blog posts cost 62% less per lead than outbound marketing. Keep up with our weekly blogs, inspired by enriching topics and ideas from thought leaders in the industry!