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Help for Small to Medium Businesses

Get the best return on investment with your digital marketing.

Times are tough out there for everyone in business at the moment and none more so than the small to medium-sized business owners. An interesting article stated that the top 5 challenges facing small businesses owners in South Africa were, attracting customers, maintaining profitability, increasing revenue, uncertainty over economic conditions and securing financing for expansion. Another sobering article on, stated that on average 70% to 80% of all South African small businesses fail within the first five years and only 4% survive after 10 years. Never mind the current pandemic and global economic recession, SME’s have the odds severely stacked against them.

Well as most businesses are doing currently, instead of focusing on the statistics, they are rather just trying to put one foot in front of the other and making the best of what they have. Looking at the 5 top challenges earlier, attracting customers was one of them with lead generation as a critical focus. Logically this is possibly the most important challenge to hurdle for the future of any business no matter what sector you are in. Naturally many businesses already have marketing plans in place to address this.

The big question is, do you know if these marketing channels are even working for you and are they bringing in business you so desperately need? Do you have a line of sight of actual numbers and metrics showing you that you are in fact getting the best return on investment for the hard-earned money you have spent or is it more of a shot in the dark hoping for the best? For example many business’s will tell you they have an online presence in the form of a website, so yes that marketing channel box is ticked. What they won’t generally tell you is how well that website is performing in terms of bringing in business leads. Yes, they might have a rough idea but on a granular level…maybe not so much. For example what pages are customers entering your website on, how long are they on your site, what is their user journey, what content are they seeking and what pages are they leaving on? The success of most digital marketing lies in the details. It’s one thing to have all of these channels in place but it is quite another to constantly monitor, report on and optimise these channels so that, like a finely tuned engine they can run on at the maximum capacity for your business.

Here is the closest analogy I could use for all you red-blooded South Africans out there. It’s finally the weekend and after a long and challenging business week, you go to local your family butcher and treat yourself to the finest cut of beef fillet money can buy. You go home and spend time marinating and seasoning it just the way you like it and store it away in the fridge for later. Once the fire on the braai is the perfect temperature, you collect your steak from the fridge, gently put it on the fire and…walk away. When your wife asks you 20 minutes later where the fillet is, you reply, “I left it on the braai”. Most seasoned, tong wielding, braai masters will tell you, the only thing you will be enjoying for dinner is salad because your fillet is now charcoal. You have to watch fillet like a hawk, knowing when the perfect time is, to place it on the braai, flip it and eventually take it off to rest. Unfortunately, many businesses take the same “I left it on the braai” approach to their digital marketing, they spend lots of time, money and effort preparing content and then upload it and walk away and hope for the best. You have to keep a constant eye on your marketing, even if it is on a biweekly basis to monitor its performance and optimise it accordingly.

I have always been a huge admirer of Entrepreneurs and small to medium businesses and the courage it takes to step out forge your own way. Although I have eluded to a few sobering statistics there are others that bring hope. The local SME industry is generating thousands of jobs and paying a staggering amount in taxes every year. SME’s represent a considerable 40% of all businesses in South Africa and it has been estimated that by 2030, 90% of the jobs will be in this sector.

I have no doubt that there is a vital role in our economy that SME’s will play in the future of our country moving forward and am excited to see what transpires in the years ahead in this sector. If I could offer one humble piece of advice to you the business owners it would be this. “Please don’t take your eyes off the fillet.”

Ref: Top 5 challenges for small businesses in South Africa.

Ref: An Assessment of South Africa’s SME Landscape: Challenges, Opportunities, Risks & Next Steps’ 2018/2019. The report was launched by SME South Africa.


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