As a small business, how do you get noticed among all the other entrepreneurs out there? And once you’ve been noticed, how do you keep your customers happy and coming back for more? Jules Newton of Avocado Vision shares some ideas.

Small businesses really don’t often have the money or expensive marketing skills to promote themselves in the way we are used to seeing multi-million rand companies do. What we really need to do is to figure out clever ways to talk to your own target market in a way that gets them excited or intrigued about what you have to offer. Obviously, the type of business you’re building will determine how you will approach your market. I run a training business, Avocado Vision, and these are some of the things I do to make sure people think about our business before that of our competitors:

  1. Get out there yourself. There is nothing more compelling than the owner-manager with a story, talking about what she’s doing and why. People buy in to that passion and commitment, and go out of their way to support it.
  2. Become a thought leader in your industry. I write articles all the time about what’s happening, what we’re thinking, what we’re doing. It feeds the industry with fresh ideas and thinking, but also reminds people that we’re a company on top of our game.
  3. Use your skills to build communities (local school governing body, local police, local orphanage, local church). Besides actually making a difference to South Africans, you are also building respect and a profile of leadership in your industry and local community. People like to support that.
  4. Delight your customers. Raving customers are your best advocates. Do everything you can to surprise and delight, and the story will go further than you could have taken it yourself. And remember to reward customers that you discover are being your advocates – even if it’s a simple ‘thank you’ with feedback about a customer that came to you as a result of their recommendation– you can never put a price on word of mouth marketing. Be the kind of person people enjoy doing business with.
  5. Do some things for free (if you can). Once people have sampled the goods, and you have shared them in a spirit of abundance, many of them will come back for more. I often speak at events where the organizers can’t afford my speaker fees. Usually, the referrals I get from those events more than compensate for the time and effort I spent doing it for nothing.


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