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Business Landscape

Are You A Commodity Or A Brand?

Have a look at your business and consider whether you could be classified as a commodity or a brand.

Andrew Seldon

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As access to technology continually improves and evolves, innovation becomes an everyday occurrence for the consumer who has an almost endless array of products, services and solutions to choose from. At the same time, competition among vendors increases exponentially and the ability to differentiate products or services based purely on features or customer service alone is a near impossibility.

There is a slim margin of success for companies that offer feature rich products combined with outstanding customer service, that does retain a degree of competitive prowess but eventually due to incessant pressure even the most fortunate of organisations can be tempted to default to competing based on price alone which is without question an unsustainable race to the bottom.

Consumers today are also more brand-aware than ever before and have evolved into critical, thinking buyers who want to spend their money with a company that inspires an emotional connection with them and their values, while solving a real problem for them.

This emotional intelligence takes precedence over flashy advertising and even lower prices. A study analysing shopper habits (The Meaningfully Different Framework, Millward Brown, 2013), found that strong brands were commanding a 13% price premium over weak brands, and a 6% premium over average brands.

The same analysis found that strong brands can also capture, on average, three times the sales volume of weak brands.

“This means that competing on price is a fool’s game and a no-win situation,” says Kyle Rolfe, brand engineer and founder of creative agency, Idea Power.

“When you compete on price you exist only for the lifespan of the product. A brand, however, spans product life cycles and lasts for years.”

“The only reliable way to stand out today, no matter what the industry, is to develop a brand that resonates with customers and makes an emotional connection as an authentic and trustworthy brand.”

Related: Why Your Franchise Brand Should Be Culturally Relevant

But what is a brand?

“A brand is the emotions you inspire,” says Rolfe. “If you have a good reputation and people enjoy their experience dealing with you; if they trust that you are true to your values and an authentic participant in their society, your brand has value to them.”

A brand, at its heart, is based on trust and this is a rare commodity that has become eroded in the minds of consumers. Because it is so rare, it is an important asset for companies large and small.

Trust is linked to corporate reputation, which is a company’s most valuable commercial asset. By 2015, around 84% of the value of all businesses was intangible value, of which brand value is a key component, according to Ocean Tomo LLC.

How do you develop a brand?

Brand building is all about trust and authenticity. Rolfe believes there are two aspects to a brand. The first is the internal brand that defines what the company believes and stands for, in other words, who you are. This is more than a bland company vision that is plastered on the walls of the company. It is the essence of the company, the authentic values and principles your whole company buys into.

“If your employees believe in the company and what it does, if they identify with your internal brand, you will automatically have more motivated employees, a positive company culture staffed by motivated people who take better care of customers,” Rolfe adds.

“In addition, if your employees trust and believe in the brand, the will naturally take that brand message with them when they leave the office and broadcast it far and wide to family and friends, as well as to their extended circle of friends on social media, which is a powerful and authentic voice in society today.”

Related: Bring Your Brand to Life

When this happens, your customers and potential customers will see, feel and experience the brand and its effect. This will expand your internal brand outwards to your customers and the market in general, supported by the most valuable marketing there is – word of mouth.

It’s worth noting that, according to Effectiveness in the Digital Era (2016) by Les Binet and Peter Field, brand-building activity drives much stronger sales growth over periods of 6 months than the temporary boosts driven by short-term sales activity.

Rolfe concludes: “Does your brand have that emotional connection to the market? Is it authentic and does it automatically command trust? If it does, you can outpace your competitors in terms of sales and price.”

The truth of the market today is that trust and authenticity are the biggest deal makers or breakers. If you create and maintain that emotional brand connection, you create and maintain a lifetime customer who stays with the brand for the long haul.

With a BSc in Computer Science, Andrew’s IT career included programming and running a support department before joining the world of technology journalism in 1995. Since then he has been an editor of various publications in South Africa and Germany, where he was also a guest lecturer in Total Quality Management (TQM) at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich. In 2014 he attained his MBA in Leadership & Sustainability from the University of Cumbria. He has been the editor of Hi-Tech Security Solutions since 2010.

Business Landscape

4 Tips To Create A Great Conference / Workshop / Event In 2019

Being able to host a great workshop or event is an essential skill for anyone in creative and innovative businesses. Your event will have a major impact – that is guaranteed. However, whether it is a positive or negative impact depends on the how well the event was put together and executed.

Revel Africa

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Your business is fantastic. You work with amazing people, and your industry is dynamic and evolving. There are so many exciting ways available to you to share your good stories: social media, podcasts, videos, live streaming, emails. But the trend we’re seeing of more workshops and conferences is the most exciting, and effective. Why? Because people still do business with people, and face-to-face still has more impact than anything digital.

Being able to host a great workshop or event is an essential skill for anyone in creative and innovative businesses. Your event will have a major impact – that is guaranteed. However, whether it is a positive or negative impact depends on the how well the event was put together and executed.

Here are 4 top tips to create and host amazing events this year

1. Purpose

Identify the purpose of the event. Is it to train clients or future clients on the latest trends in your industry in a bid to position yourself as the subject matter expert? Is it to bring a large multi-campus business together into one space to unite them and refocus and energise them? Is it to bring creative minds together to solve a problem? Answer these questions and you will know if you need a small, vibrant workshop, a large, slick event, or a creative team-building conference.

Plus, having a really clear understanding of why you’re doing this event is the best way to deal with the stress of putting it all together. Anchor yourself to the core reason behind the event, and it will not only propel you forward through the process, but will also make a lot of the decisions easier to make as you go.

2. Prepare

If you are going to host an event, then embrace the reality of late nights, money stress, volatile emotions and extended periods when your nearest and dearest, your social life and your free time take a back seat. There’s no nice way of saying it – an event is a huge responsibility and one that will take up a lot of your time.

The best advice we can give you is to find an event planner straight off to help you put your best foot forward at your event and deliver on your vision for the event. That way, once they’ve done all the heavy lifting, all you have to do is arrive on the day of the event looking fresh, fabulous, and stress-free and allow yourself to revel in its success. Your event planner would have handled everything for you, from haggling with suppliers, to sourcing the best locations at great prices, and should even handle the headache of RSVPs. In the Western Cape and Gauteng we highly recommend Revel Africa for bespoke events and innovative ideas that fit your budget.

Whether you use an event planner or not, you will need to think these through.

  • Decide on a theme – A theme helps to unify your ideas, source expert speakers, and market to the right people. Pick something simple, catchy and on topic. You can even go so far as creating a mission statement for the event to keep your efforts focused, such as, “We care a whole lot about this topic / industry / situation and we couldn’t find a conference that matched what we want and need. Our goal is to bring something that is welcoming and inspiring, where the talks are fresh, and the snacks are even fresher. We’d love you to join us and celebrate the people (including you!) who make this industry great.”
  • Prepare a budget and make bookings – Knowing what your budget is will help you set the price for delegates if it is not an in-house event. Here are the most common items you need to budget for, and book:
    • Venue – Once you’ve found a venue within the price and date range that you had in mind, you can fix the date for the event.
    • Transportation – For out-of-town delegates.
    • Catering – Events can rise and fall on the quality of the food provided. Shop around for this one and request taste-tests.
    • Speaker – Start thinking about speakers very early on, as all the good ones get snapped up fairly far in advance, so if you want your top choices, secure them as soon as possible. For interactive staff sales training we recommend Mark Berger, and for your MC / Inspiration needs, we recommend Warrior Ric.
    • Activities – Think of icebreakers and activities to get people out of observation mode and into participation mode.
    • Marketing – If this event is for external delegates, invest in a good marketing agency for social media, printed marketing collateral, banners, brochures, website updates, and paid media.
    • Team members – Select, and brief the team that will help you with this event.
    • Invitations – Once you have a date, venue, and keynote speakers, you can send out your invitation. Managing RSVPs and payment effectively is critical. Quicket can be a useful payment portal for events.
  • Daily emails: Once the conference has started, send out a daily email outlining the itinerary for that day. Keynote speakers and times, social events, meal plans, highlighted sessions, even the daily weather report can all help the attendee feel more prepared and connected when they reach the event. You can use Mailchimp or any other of the great bulk mailer platforms available.
  • FAQ: An FAQ is great for questions that come up again and again. The answers can be published on an event FAQ page on your website and the link sent in the daily mails. Questions like:
    • Are sessions be recorded? When will they be available?
    • Is parking available?
    • What’s the Wi-Fi password?

3. Productivity

Be mindful of who is attending the session and whether or not the session’s content is suitable to them. A talk that is too basic, too advanced, too demographically narrow, or too far off-topic for the conference – no matter how famous the speaker is – will bring the session’s productivity to a grinding halt.

Another great thing to consider is self-directed co-ordination as a great way to meet new people or to connect with people you’ve known for a long time. Using a Twitter hashtag, a Slack team, a Telegram group, are a great communication channel for the event to ensure attendees easily find information about how to network with each other. If your event is more technical, you could also create a wiki during the event to enable sub-communities to self-organise on the day and share content.

When it comes to how productive the sessions are, as the event planner it might be tempting to participate in the day’s events. However, as a facilitator your role is to remain objective and observe. You can’t facilitate and participate at the same time. Keep scanning the room to sense the mood and energy; keep discussions on track by asking great questions; constantly keep the end goal in mind. Typically, a good facilitator or event planner is often invisible on the day of the event.

4. Participation

There are many creative ways to structure the day’s proceedings to facilitate maximum participation.

  1. Campfire sessions – These start like a traditional presentation, with a speaker at the front of the room presenting an idea to a group of people. However, after 15 or 20 minutes, the presenter becomes the facilitator and shifts the focus of discussion to the audience, inviting comments, insights and questions from those around the room. Campfire sessions allow attendees to drive their own learning and share experiences with others, which also assists with networking.
  2. Birds of a Feather (BOF) – BOF groups are small, informal gatherings of people with a common interest or area of expertise who join up to work together, typically over lunch or during the morning coffee break. You can suggest BOF groups for attendees to join or they can create their own. Sessions don’t have a pre-planned agenda and are aimed at encouraging discussion and networking.
  3. Lightning Talks – As the name suggests, lightning talks give speakers no more than 10 minutes to make their presentation. Because speakers don’t have time to waffle, the presentations are to the point, which keeps audiences focused and energised. A window of between 30 to 60 minutes is usually given to lightning talks, which can allow for up to 12 speakers to be heard.
  4. Silent Disco Talks – This is where many speakers present at once within the same room, while delegates – wearing wireless headphones with channels that they can switch between – choose who they want to listen to. Delegates enjoy bite-sized pieces of information and are always tuned in to something that interests them.
  5. World Café – This simple, effective, and flexible format is ideal for hosting large group discussions. Start the first round of discussion with groups of four to six people sitting around a table, and present each group with a question. After 15 minutes, each member of the group moves to a different table. Once all rounds have been completed, key points from each table are presented to the whole group for a final collective discussion.
  6. Storytelling – This is where speakers tell real-life stories that help illustrate or enhance themes in the conference. The story should contain a beginning, a middle and an end, with characters and plots, like adversity and triumph. Stories should be 15 minutes long, with 10 minutes provided for Q&A afterwards.

Here’s to hosting many great workshops and events this year.

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Business Landscape

What Is Business Insurance And Why Does Your Business Need It?

Your business asset insurance cost will go up if you add on more items, but this is common with all insurances. Not sure why you need it? Find out more information below.

Amy Galbraith

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You need to protect your business against all eventualities. This means that you need to have the ability to pay for any physical or legal damages that might occur, such as a client claiming that they were injured while on your property or an asset being stolen from your property. And business insurance in South Africa is a necessity if you want to apply for business finance, as the bank will need to see that your assets are insured.

You might be wondering now, as a business owner, “What is business asset insurance?” It’s insurance which insures your assets, such as vehicles, electronic equipment, and your business premises. You can also opt to have business car insurance if you have a company car that is used by your employees. Your business asset insurance cost will go up if you add on more items, but this is common with all insurances. Not sure why you need it? Find out more information below.

It protects your assets

Whether you are a small business just setting up or an established company, you likely have assets that are important to keep your business functioning. This could be a business vehicle that you use to transport goods to clients or computers that are vital to your employees.

If you do not insure these assets, you will need to pay for repairing and replacing that might need to happen out of your own funds. And this can become extremely expensive, depending on what has been damaged, lost or stolen. Another reason why you need business asset insurance is that there might be a natural disaster or “act of God” that occurs, such as a fire or flood, which could damage your equipment, meaning that it needs to be replaced.

It protects you from legal issues

Some of the problems that businesses face include legal issues, which can become costly and tiresome. These issues can be handled easily and efficiently if your business insurance to help pay for legal fees and settlement fees with the client or employee who is issuing the complaint.

In the case of being sued or taken to court, it is useful to have a business insurance offering available to help you. If you do not have this type of insurance, you will soon see that legal costs can become exorbitant. Legal issues can also reflect negatively on your company in the eyes of other clients or employees, but having business insurance can help to clear up any problems effectively and without any drama.

Your business will not shut down due to incidents

If your business vehicle is stolen or if the equipment is damaged, this could lead to your business closing for a period while you try to recoup your loss of money. This could lead to you losing even more money which could be highly detrimental to the success of your business.

Your insurance company will be able to compensate you the lost funds, granted that the issue is covered by the insurance cover you have in place. This will allow you to stay open despite the fact that you are experiencing difficulties due to equipment not working or other problems. You could even opt for emergency assistance if there is a natural disaster which will keep you, your employees and even your property safe from damage.

Your employees will be protected

Your employees are the backbone of your company. And, as such, you should have protection in place for them. You should have workers’ compensation coverage in place so that should your company lose money or be unable to pay your staff, their needs will still be covered.

And business insurance will protect them from any possible lawsuits that could be lodged against them by clients or customers. It can become highly expensive to pay for these out of your own pocket. Protecting your employees protects your business, so be sure to invest in insurance which offers workers’ compensation as well as disability cover to protect your employees.

Think smart for your future

Having business asset insurance and business insurance is important to both small businesses and large corporations. This is because your assets will be protected from theft and damage, which can be costly to replace and repair. You will also be able to weather any legal storm that might come your way, as well as being able to protect your employees and their welfare.

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Business Landscape

How To Get A Tax Clearance Certificate In South Africa

This post is for you if you need a Tax Clearance Certificate from SARS. We explain everything you need to know about Tax Clearance Certificates in South Africa: from why you need one to apply for most Tenders, Contracts or RFQ’s to how to get yours as quickly as possible.

Company Partners

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When applying for Tenders, Contracts and RFQ’s in South Africa, chances are you need to submit a Tax Clearance Certificate. In this piece we’re explaining the why, the how and the where on getting a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa.

We’ve asked our team of specialists at Company Partners to answer frequently-asked questions they get from South African entrepreneurs on Tax Clearance Certificates. Company Partners is a local company who specialises in fast-tracked company documentation like Tax Clearance Certificates.

Here are the questions SA entrepreneurs have on Tax Clearance Certificates and our expert’s answers (you can just skip to the FAQ’s you’re interested in):

  1. The definition of a Tax Clearance Certificate
  2. Why do I need a Tax Clearance Certificate for Contracts, Tenders or RFQs?
  3. How to get a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa
  4. Where to get a Tax Clearance Certificate
  5. Is a Tax Clearance Certificate compulsory in South Africa to apply for Tenders?
  6. The fastest way to get a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa.

Expert tip: if you’re interested in getting a fast-tracked Tax Clearance Certificate, just call Company Partner’s toll-free number 0800 007 269 or visit their Tax Clearance Certificate page here.

1. The definition of a Tax Clearance Certificate

A Tax Clearance Certificate is essentially a piece of official documentation that your business can get from SARS as proof that you have no outstanding Tax at SARS. Having a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa means your business is in good standing with SARS.

Related: What Should I Know About Dealing With Tax When It Comes To My Business?

2. Why do I need a Tax Clearance Certificate for Contracts, Tenders or RFQs?

You want to partner with credible companies, right? The same goes for companies looking for contractors. That’s why companies want to check if their potential contractors are in good standing with SARS.

You cannot skip your SARS payments and get a Tax Clearance Certificate. You need to “clear” all Tax matters first before you can get the certificate.

In short, that’s exactly why you’ll see most Tenders, Contracts or RFQ’s asking you to provide a Tax Clearance Certificate in your applications/bids. It’s essentially a form of administrative security to ensure you don’t have bad debt with SARS.

3. How to get a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa

SARS is the only entity who can issue legal Tax Clearance Certificates in South Africa. However, there are various way to get a SARS-issued Tax Clearance Certificate.

The first method is using eFiling and navigating SARS’s e-portal by yourself.

The second is queuing at a local SARS branch.

The third, and the easiest method is asking a Tax Professional to assist you. This can either be a Tax Accountant, or a fast-tracked company service provider like Company Partners. They have a team of Tax Experts who communicate directly with SARS on your behalf.

Their team specialises in assisting South African businesses to get their SARS-issued Tax Certificate as quickly, and with as little effort as possible.

This is one of the easiest methods to get your Tax Clearance Certificate simply because you don’t need to figure out what, how and where you need to submit your details and the required documentation. Company Partners knows exactly what SARS wants – and also how and where they want it.

This process is also much faster and easier because it’s online and completely rules out queuing and unclarity.

south-african-tax

4. Where to get a Tax Clearance Certificate

As mentioned in the previous answer, there are three ways to get a Tax Clearance Certificate. Although all three approaches entail a SARS-issued Tax Clearance Certificate, the third way is by far the easiest and the fastest.

The first method is applying online and DIY via SARS’s eFiling site. This might be complicated and time-consuming if you don’t know exactly what documentation you need to submit and in what formats.

The second method is visiting a local SARS branch for assistance.

The third option is using a Tax Accountant or a professional service provider like Company Partners.

Related: 7 Direct And Indirect Taxes You Should Consider Before Registering Your Business

The Company Partners process is simple: 

Step 1:  

Sign up for their Tax Clearance service here. A dedicated expert will give you a call and walk you through everything. Alternatively, you can call them directly on their toll-free number 0800 007 269.

Step 2:

Follow the easy steps your dedicated Consultant gives you telephonically and via email. If you need any assistance, just contact your Consultant.

Step 3:

They make sure you get your Tax Clearance Certificate in record-breaking time. It’s as simple as that.

5. Is a Tax Clearance Certificate compulsory in South Africa when applying for Tenders?

Usually, yes.  Any credible company or government institution will probably request a Tax Clearance Certificate.

A Tax Clearance Certificate issued by SARS is the only proof they have that you don’t have any outstanding debts payable to SARS.

6. The fastest way to get a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa

The fastest way to get a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa is using a professional to assist you. Before you opt out in fear of the associated cost, there really are cost-effective options for you.

You could use a part-time Tax Accountant to assist you or you could use a service provider like Company Partners. At Company Partners they specialise in offering online and fast-tracked company administration.

Using a professional cuts out the time you’re going to spend queuing at a local SARS branch or trying to figure out what and how you need to submit the required documentation.

You can call Company Partners on their toll-free number 0800 007 269 to start.

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