The future of the country rests firmly in the hands of the entrepreneurs. Tabled as the flavour of the decade, entrepreneurs are fast becoming the base of the wealth pyramid and are the people who will give rise to the mega-companies of tomorrow.
If entrepreneurs are the recipe for success in South Africa, and the world, right now, why are so few brands acting like entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurs (and from now on this term should encompass people and businesses and brands) set themselves apart from everyone else through one single belief, they believe in the power of change.
To simplify, what is innovation if you’re a brand? Is it a new product? Is it a new way of selling the product or is it new way of communicating about the product? Could it just be a new look? The most successful brands in the world don’t worry about any of these things in isolation; they worry about all of them.
Coca-Cola has not changed its core product essentially since inception. They have a good thing and, ‘it ain’t broke’ so they don’t fix it. But they change almost everything else. How it’s packaged, how they talk about it, where they talk about it, sponsorships, real-world and online content, regular line extensions, support brands and just about anything else not core to the brand itself. They lead the world in brand ownership and stewardship because they are always the pioneers that do things first and let the world follow after.
Let’s take a look at some of the behaviours that define entrepreneurs. If they’re largely present you’re almost guaranteed success.
Drive and energy. Sounds silly doesn’t it? Yet you’ll find that it’s a decisive factor in the success of brands as much as it is for individuals. There are loads of clock-watchers and time bandits waiting for time to run out to get themselves permission to go and do something other than their jobs.
Without passion, there’s no energy. With passion, effort becomes enjoyment. Look at your brand team and decide if together you really love what you do. If not, go and find that thing and leave the brand to people who actually care. Think of the people who personify brand success – Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates. Did they ever punch a clock? Were they ever doing something they hated?
Self-confidence. It’s easy to spot in a person but how do we measure it in a brand? It’s a tonal thing. A new kid on the block is bold about who they are and what they stand for and unashamedly stands up to the competition. Look at Frank.net.
Insurance unapologetically put into the world in a straightforward, no-nonsense way that shoulders aside the giants of the industry and stakes its claim. That’s self-confidence. It’s undeniable. It’s attractive. It’s noticed.
High internal locus of control. Entrepreneurs truly feel that they control their own destiny. They are not beholden to anyone to create change and in fact they are the primary change merchants themselves. Brands like this bend the world to themselves and achieve brilliance. Think Virgin or Apple. They are the masters of this.
Entrepreneurs seek out feedback. They want to learn how to do things better. Bad news or honest criticism is more valuable to an entrepreneur because it gives them an opportunity to get better at what they do. Brands who listen and learn are always more powerful than those that preach to persuade.
Work efficiently and effectively. The hallmark of entrepreneurial enterprises is the ability to use the resources to maximum effect. People, cash, assets, knowledge and anything else they can find is really squeezed for all its worth.
That efficiency makes brands that behave like these create ‘large bangs’ for relatively small bucks. These are challengers who box clever. Think Amstel Lager carving out a 38% share of voice using TV content (SABC 1’s Class Act Reality TV show) over classic advertising in early 2009 against a giant competitor outspending them 10+ to 1.
The beating heart
So with all this evidence mounting up, why are there so few brands taking heed of the forces shaping their world? Perhaps they are too internally focused. They are certainly committed to their markets but maybe they spend too much time and effort trying to find the deep penetrating insight that will unlock growth that they forget to take action.
Perhaps they are just stuck in the tangle of red tape that stifles growth and strangles activity. Or maybe they are simply too lazy to make a difference. Days of corporate complacence are over. Success demands energy and those who offer it will reap the rewards. Brands need to stop behaving like institutions and start acting like people again. Get motivated and do stuff. Embrace change and create it for themselves.
They need to be energetic and make themselves felt. They need to do a little less talking and a little more doing, all the while fighting their fear. Brands need to fail. And win all the more. Just like the entrepreneur.
Creativity is the ultimate tool at your disposal to truly change behaviour, influence people and win them to your brand, your cause or your movement.
At the heart is the idea. And it needs to be a big one.
These 6 Online Habits Are Common, But They’re Killing Your Brand’s Credibility
Just because ‘everyone’s doing it’ doesn’t mean your brand should follow suit.
How do you build a loyal customer base? For most modern brands, the answer doesn’t actually lie with authenticity – rather, it depends on building credibility.
According to the Association for Consumer Research, “As a signal of product positioning, the most important characteristic of a brand is its credibility … Credibility affects consumer choices through perceived risk, information costs saved and perceived quality in most categories, even those with only moderate levels of uncertainty.”
Even for relatively low-cost purchases, whether customers perceive a brand as trustworthy – as someone who fulfills their promises – will have a big impact on their buying decisions.
Unfortunately, many brands falter in their credibility-boosting efforts as the result of relatively minor mistakes. The following online habits may not seem like a big deal, but they can easily derail your brand-building efforts.
1. You’re using vague superlatives
Every brand wants to position itself as the best in the business. But, rather than showcase their best work in an online portfolio, many businesses instead choose to use non-specific superlatives like “high-quality,” “best in the business” or “experienced team.”
Media experts have found that such vague superlatives actually crush your credibility, hinting at underlying insecurities about what your business has to offer. Instead, mention specific credibility-boosting examples, such as awards you’ve won or how many years you’ve been in business.
Related: How to Manage Your Personal Brand
2. You haven’t claimed your business on Google
Most potential customers (and even many of your returning customers) aren’t going to remember your company’s URL. To find you, they’ll do a search on Google. While your website should come up as part of their search results, many customers will actually look at your Google listing first – and if you haven’t added or claimed your business, you could quickly lose credibility.
Claiming your business helps prove to customers that you have an actual online presence. It gives them a chance to check out reviews and quickly find other essential information. If you don’t claim your business, you send the message that you don’t care about your web presence – and that your website probably won’t help customers solve their problems, either.
3. You’ve neglected the testimonials page on your site
Customer reviews can make or break your ability to attract new business – even for decidedly non-tech-savvy industries like plumbing or lawn care. However, far too many brands let third-party review sites do all the heavy lifting, even though a website without testimonials will have a harder time establishing credibility.
4. You consciously try to use smart-sounding words
A key part of building credibility is proving that you actually know what you’re talking about. This is why so many brands embrace the power of blogging – sharing facts and tips is a great way to showcase your expertise and improve your SEO rankings. The problem comes when blogs and other online content are peppered with “smart” words in an attempt to sound more authoritative.
Words like “deosculation” (another word for kissing) or “laodicean” (which means indifferent) may help you sound more intelligent, but they’ll only confuse your audience. Worse yet, trying to use more complex language makes it much more likely that you’ll make an embarrassing mistake. Keep it simple, and you’ll build your credibility with easy-to-understand language.
5. You’ve failed to humanise your brand
Scams and fake websites are all too common these days, and as a result, many consumers are understandably wary when checking out a new brand for the first time.
Unfortunately, in an effort to save time and money, many smaller businesses use stock photos and a generic “About” page on their site. Such a move may be more convenient, but it illustrates a lack of transparency, and signals to customers that your site could be a scam.
Instead, humanise your business with pictures of the people who actually work there. Personalise the “About” page with unique details about your company’s past. Don’t be afraid to include personal info about your team or pictures of your office. Such additions can go a long way in proving your legitimacy.
Related: 9 Tips For Creating An Awesome Brand
6. You’ve passed on old-fashioned communication
A quality website is a great asset, but it likely won’t answer every question your potential customers might have. While email and chatbots can be helpful, many customers still prefer traditional communication methods – and according to the Harvard Business Review, “74 percent of people who have a bad phone support experience are likely to choose another business the next time they shop for that product or service.”
Including your business’s address and a contact phone number not only gives potential customers more ways to get in touch – it also helps legitimise your company for consumers and Google alike. Even a digital-only brand will gain legitimacy by giving customers a way to talk with a real human being.
As you avoid these negative online habits and take steps to correct them, you’ll make a better impression and build a stronger reputation with potential customers. Even more importantly, you’ll generate the sales growth needed to keep your business moving forward.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
It’s Okay To Promote Yourself – In Fact, It’s Necessary. Here’s How To Do It Better
Here’s what to do if you aren’t a natural marketer.
If you ever heard the expression “Pride goeth before a fall” or you were ever scolded by a teacher or a parent for “thinking too much of yourself,” chances are promotion of yourself and your business is a challenge for you.
There’s a problem with that: You can’t grow a business if no one knows about you.
“Nice” people don’t brag. “Nice” people don’t boast. “Nice” people don’t talk about their successes, their industry standing, their awards or what they and their company can do to make the prospect’s life that much better. After all, who wants to be seen as arrogant?
One of the worst adages wrongly applied to business is, “Good things come to those who wait.” Ba-humbug!
So you wait for the phone to ring. You wait for that handful of previous customers to tell their friends. You wait for the Magic Business Fairy to come turn your business from “barely-getting-by” into a NASDAQ listing. Ain’t gonna happen.
A young friend started an online clothing store just two months ago. Yesterday, she complained, “I’ve got cute stuff, a great website, a perfect shopping cart, fast shipping. I ran a one-day-only 50 percent off sale, but I didn’t even get one order!” I said, “That’s because you don’t have traffic. Get traffic, then you get sales.”
Traffic, customers, prospects and money come when you promote yourself, not by magic! Start intelligent promoting today.
If you don’t fiercely believe in your company, and share your positive message over and over and over and over again, including your own part in its quality products or service (especially if your business is still mostly you!), your sales will never get any better than they are today.
You have to get out there and shout it from the rooftops!
For example, there are millions of people on social media. If you write a blog or a book that no one is reading, it is not a “lead generator” for your business. If you have a sign and a great location but very little foot traffic, you are not marketing your business. In 2016, an astonishing 787,000 books were published in the USA, most self-published. The average sales? 117 copies in two years!
Throwing something into the world and crossing your fingers is not a marketing strategy.
Here are three real, practical, hands-on steps you can and should do today to promote yourself and your business effectively – and fast.
1. Get over it
If you want to have insecurities about whether or not it is proper or right or even holy to be a self-promoter, nurse those worries on your off hours. No fewer than 40 hours a week, pretend like you have the best product or service in the history of the human race … and do your best to live up to what you tout from this day forward.
Fake it ’til you make it, Baby.
2. Ditch whatever isn’t working
The blogs no one is reading? Fugeddaboutit. The big fancy Sale sign in your window? Stick it in the stockroom. Going to all those dull networking breakfasts and handing out your business card? Try a toaster waffle at home next time. Stop doing what isn’t working so you have time to figure out and focus on what will bring in business.
3. Figure it out fast
As Tony Robbins often says, “Success leaves clues.” What are your competitors doing? If you can’t afford their ad budget, then what similar thing could you do to divert just a small percentage of their revenue into your cash register?
No clue? Could you hire a marketing consultant to give you a hand – even for just a few hours? Make sure the person you hire has actually helped at least two other people achieve what you want to achieve! When new speakers or authors hire me to help them get more speeches or sell more books, I literally force them to check out my long list of successful clients so they know I can do what I am promising. Check the person out before you pay them (especially “social media experts”!) When you get their good advice…take it! Most people don’t take the advice they get…and pay for. This is what keeps psychologists and diet book authors in business.
Not the type to do corporate espionage or won’t hire a consultant? Read books! All the knowledge in the world is there. I strongly recommend The Ultimate Guide to Platform Building, of course, but there are many other niche books on everything from Facebook marketing (so people actually read your blogs!) to networking (my author-client Judy Robinett wrote How to Be a Power Connector) to podcasting (Stephen Woessner’s Profitable Podcasting is the best I’ve seen so far). Decide what you want to do, what you can do easily and what matches your customer’s way of finding out about businesses like yours, learn how to do it, and begin. It’s really that simple.
If what you’re doing now isn’t working, educate yourself so you can do it right and get the best results.
It’s OK that you can’t afford to do everything, or don’t have time, the interest or the talent. Do what you like, check if it is working, and do more of it. Or hire people to show you the best way to achieve it, or even hire someone to do it for you. There have never been so many great, easy ways to promote a business or a person! A little belt-tightening pain now could mean a huge payoff later.
Still feeling a little shy about self-promotion? Imagine that your business is your beloved child. You want your child to get into Harvard, right? Or to star in the school talent show? Or to ace the MCATs? Even though for most small businesses, the owner is the business, suspend your enmeshment long enough to imagine your business as separate from you. Imagine that it is someone you deeply care about and want to help. It’s no longer about vanity or ego. It’s about love and faith and all that good stuff. After all, whatever your business does, it’s purpose is to help the world in some way, to solve a problem your customers want solved.
To keep up your spirits, start collecting testimonials today. Ask for Yelp or Amazon or OpenTable reviews, collect written testimonials, or video tape happy customers telling you how much they love your business. When you’re feeling a little low, watch them or re-read them and boost yourself up again. You’re doing good in the world. You deserve to be paid for it. You deserve to share those testimonials (with permission, when appropriate) with your prospects. You earned them!
P.T. Barnum once said, “Fortune always favours the brave, and never helps a man who does not help himself.” You don’t have to become P.T. Barnum, although he made a heck of a lot of money by being a relentless promoter. You just have to stop doing what isn’t working, summon your courage and try new things.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Move Your Brand Forward With Eye-Catching Vehicle Wraps
The Sign Africa Expo is Africa’s largest dedicated print and signage exhibition. Covering 13,000sqm and with the objective of attracting 6,000+ visitors, Sign Africa provides an ideal platform for visitors to investigate available business ventures, innovative products, technology, applications and education programmes for the signage and display industries in the sub-Saharan region. Entrance is free and the event is co-located with FESPA Africa, Africa Print and Africa LED and will take place from 12-14 September 2018 at the Gallagher Convention Centre, Johannesburg.
Business owners are constantly seeking ways to get their brands noticed. And with all the gigantic billboards, street pole advertisements and other media vying for consumers’ attention, it’s difficult to stand out. Enter vehicle wrapping, which is an effective promotional tool as it’s cost-effective, impactful and long-lasting.
‘Car branding will transform your vehicle or fleet into mobile billboards. Used for short-term promotions or long-term exposure, it is one of the more cost-effective advertising methods available. It is also a great option for personalisation or to improve the appearance of your vehicle,’ said said Manny De Souza from Wrap Vehicles.
Besides cost-effective general wraps for corporate fleets, custom vehicle wrapping offers special effects that create Instagram-worthy wraps that get brands noticed. Different textures such as chrome, wood grain, carbon fibre and a variety of metallic effects, glitter, ultra matte finishes and ‘sandpaper-like’ non-slip surface finishes are also available. One can also create pearlescent effects and even velvet, while colour changing vinyls also provide really unique wraps.
Vehicle graphics can also be tailor-made to suit any budget, allowing for options like partial wraps or small decals on elements of the transport such as the doors. A professionally installed wrap should last between five to seven years if properly maintained by regularly washing the vehicle. Many reputable wrapping companies offer warrantees on the wrap’s longevity.
Wraps also increase a vehicle’s value by protecting it from nicks and scratches. Then there’s the benefit of the conspicuous branding possibly making your vehicle less appealing to criminals.
Of course, you’ll have to ensure that you and your fleet drivers obey the rules of the road as reckless driving can damage your brand.
Speed Wrap Challenge
An expo highlight is the Speed Wrap Challenge, a thrilling, live wrapping competition. Come along and watch experts compete against the clock for the title of champion. Vehicle wrapping companies can also enter their best wrappers. The challenge will take place on all three days of the expo. The first round will be at 10am and the final round will take place on Friday 14 September. For more information, visit: www.signafricaexpo.com/entrepreneur1.
The featured image is credited to Wrap Vehicles.
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