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how to market your business with no money

Thursday, 17 December 2020

So, you’ve got a great business idea and all your friends and family agree. You’ve done your checks and balances and you’re confident your prices are the best in the business. All that’s left now is to start trading.

Perhaps some of your network will support you on launch day, but to properly sustain your cash flow you’ll need a constant stream of customers. The only way to ensure this is through effective marketing, but what if you can’t afford it?

This summer, Cell C is offering all of its customers the opportunity to change their summer and change their world with the chance to win a bakkie in its Summer Campaign. To stand a chance of winning big in Cell C’s Summer Campaign, existing customers need to either recharge, buy any number of qualifying bundles, sign up for a new contract or upgrade an existing contract. Qualifying bundles are available for purchase through USSD (*147#), Cell C’s online portal, the Cell C app and Banks.

While some winners may just enjoy their bakkie as a leisure vehicle, many others could see it as the start of a brand-new business venture. In a year in which many South Africans saw their lives turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges it presented to the job market, Cell C’s grand prizes could provide budding entrepreneurs with a fresh start. But in order to make the most of their opportunity, many winners might need some help on the marketing side.

 “Marketing can be expensive and we don’t assume our winners will be able to afford it, which is why we’ve consulted Jonathan Cherry, Futurist at Cherry Flava to assist our winners with some useful tips on how to market their business ideas without any money,” says Simo Mkhize, Cell C’s Chief Commercial Officer. “We want to give all our business-minded winners useful tips where we can.”   

Using a fictional character named Thandi Khumalo, Cherry illustrates how she can go about marketing her new bakkie business, which plans to sell fresh vegetables to the local Spaza shops direct from the farms.

Spread the word

The least expensive form of advertising is word of mouth. This means ensuring that your product and service is the best in the business. Thandi must then ensure that her vegetables are fresh, and delivered on time, with no bruising or rot. Her pricing must also be competitive. As soon as people begin raving about her vegetables and her incredible and friendly service, they will tell all their friends and the news will spread quickly.   

The importance of social media

Using social media and your own fan base is a very easy and free option to promote your business organically. Thandi can either use her own pages across various special media platforms or open up separate business pages which costs nothing, to focus only on the vegetables and to let people know what she has in stock. It’s worth spending some time on creating content for your social media pages that really shares the value of what you are offering in a compelling and interesting way. Thandi writes stories about her love for vegetables and also interesting facts about nutrition. She has seen many of her fans share her content with their networks (referred to as 'going viral').

Here are some free tools to get you started:

Get to market as soon as possible

Bring your products to the market. Thandi offers her customers free samples so they can taste to test the quality before buying, she also then offers first-time buyer discounts, and lets people pre-order her products at a discounted price. Asking her customers to write a review of her product or service can go a long way in being referred.

Re-invest your profits in the market

Don’t be scared to invest your profits in marketing and not just once. Be consistent in your efforts. Thandi spends a portion of her profits each month to expand on her social media reach by promoting her Facebook and Instagram posts, which cost as little as R500 per month. Sometimes she also hands out printed flyers to surrounding Spaza shops, to promote her services. She is currently saving up to get her bakkie branded so everyone on the road will recognise her.

Cherry concludes, “Marketing requires a consistent ongoing effort that needs to be measured and adjusted as results are measured. Any business success is directly linked to how well its offering is taken up by the market. Marketing is the systematic process of combining the right product offering at the right price in the right place to the right people through the right promotion. Great marketing produces brands that people care about and pay a premium for.”



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