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Marketing Kraal: Lebona Moleli

An intrepid entrepreneur turns outdoor advertising on its head with an innovative new model.

Juliet Pitman

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Lebona Molle of Marketing Kraal

When Lebona Moleli, CEO of Marketing Kraal, started abusiness selling wall mural and container advertising space, he introduced arefreshing new take on outdoor advertising and developed an offering that’sopened up a previously untapped market.

Side-stepping thecompetition

“I’ve been fascinated by billboards ever since I was achild and when I left the corporate environment, I thought it would be a goodbusiness to get into,” says Moleli. But he knew competition was extremely toughand barriers to entry were high. “To erect a billboard is extremely expensive – betweenR100 000 and R250 000 – and it involves a huge administrative headache becauseyou have to get permission from the council. Then it takes time to build up aregular client base. Going that route and taking on the big players likePrimedia was going to be too challenging from a marketing and finance point ofview,’ he explains. So, like a true entrepreneur, Moleli came up with adifferent way of doing things.

Devising aninnovative model

Instead of owning the advertising space, he realised hecould use what was already out there. Marketing Kraal sources existing wall andcontainer space in townships and semi-urban areas across the country, appliesbranding on the space for advertisers and pays a percentage fee over to theowner of the site. “This means we keep our costs low because we don’t need toerect and own a billboard structure and it helps other small businesses in ourcommunities to grow, because we pay no less than 10% of our media rental fee tothem. It’s a win for us, for our clients and for local small business owners,” Moleli says, adding that onesite owner has used the proceeds from her site to send her child to school.

Going for impact

The business model has another important differentiator,as Moleli explains: “We don’t find the site and then try to sell it to theclient. We see ourselves as a marketing partner, not a sales business. So wesit with the client, discuss what they want to achieve with a campaign, whothey want to talk to and what they want to say, and then we source a sitespecifically suited to meet those requirements.” When word gets around in communities, people contactMarketing Kraal to highlight possible new sites, which helps the company togrow and extend the reach of its offering. What all this adds up to is anoutdoor advertising offering that can reach into the much sought-after townshipmarket, is impactful and can offer advertisers powerful returns on investment.

Targeting a niche

Marketing Kraal draws on Moleli’s comprehensiveunderstanding of the township and semi-urban market. It’s experience he builtup over a career that includes senior marketing positions at SAB, Coca-Cola,South African Airways and former lottery operator, Uthingo. “I knew I needed a niche and the township market was theobvious choice,” he says, “It’s a market I know and understand, and obviouslyhaving grown up in the township helps!” Such an understanding is an important value-add,particularly in what is a constantly evolving and dynamic market. “The townshipmarket” is undergoing a lot of transformation with the emergence of the blackmiddle class and an increase in property development, and there’s a real needto talk to it in a very specific way. Our offering helps clients to do that,”he says.

Landing clients

It’s an offering that has the likes of e.tv, Cell C andthe new Lottery operator, Gidani, convinced. Moleli signed up his first clientsusing an aggressive marketing strategy and a “kick ass” PowerPointpresentation. “I didn’t even have a website then but I think what I wasoffering was unique and they were interested. My first client signed up for 12months,” he says. No doubt the price tag plays an important role as well –Marketing Kraal’s niche focus, unique market knowledge and tailored siteselection all comes at a fraction of the usual billboard advertising price. “Weare lucky to have some big name clients but the offering is priced to suitsmall to medium businesses as well and we’d like to grow in this area,” heconcludes.

Marketing Kraal

Player: LebonaMoleli

Est. 2007

Contact:www.marketingkraal.co.za

Tel: +27 11 805 6538

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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