World SMME Day on 27 June reminds us that there is a wealth of information available online to anyone setting up or running an SMME, he notes. This might sometimes need you to do some homework to apply it within South African laws and regulations, for example, but most of it is a free or low-cost resource that can inspire you to running a bigger and better business.
What this global pool of information must not do, Cash Converters CEO Richard Mukheibir warns, is distract you from getting to know the neighbourhood where your business operates. Without this, who your customers are or could be will remain a mystery.
“Develop ways in which you engage with customers in your neighbourhood,” he says. “Your brand will go from strength to strength if you build it up from the grassroots.”
Focusing on aligning with global consumer trends and knowledge development or looking at bigger brands as role models can lead SMMEs to think it is more sophisticated to place an ad on TV or in your favourite glossy magazine. Instead, targeting your customers and micro-marketing specifically to them establishes you as a go-to business at the heart of your community.
Mukheibir believes that within SA franchising, Cash Converters has the greatest expertise in building such business-community relationships. This is largely thanks to strategies drawn up by marketing specialist Juan Botha, who believes that building an infrastructure of symbiotic relationships is a smart driver that consistently works for SMMEs.
Botha recommends talking to customers in a way relevant to them through “call to action” use of Google and Facebook local ads. Other important ingredients in local-area marketing strategy are networking through community groups and aligning the individual store and its merchandise to its neighbourhood.
“In any Cash Converters store, the merchandise can change significantly every day, depending on what people bring in to sell or come in to buy,” says Botha. “But our stores tackle this challenge in a straightforward way by focusing on getting to know local customers’ tastes and keeping stock that will attract them.”
The United Nations declared 27 June to be the Global Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Day because it believes these businesses have a key economic role in developing countries and also in developing communities within them. These businesses are also vital in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, says the UN, especially promoting innovation, creativity and decent work for all.
Getting to know your customers from the grassroots and becoming an active part of the community can make the difference in sustainability, determining whether a business survives or fails – as startups sadly often do. This is important for business owners and entrepreneurs at a personal level but also for the economy broadly and for social cohesion.
“We believe it is one reason why the additional support of a franchise like Cash Converters is such an attractive option,” says Mukheibir. “We offer franchisees guidance on growing organically into their communities, as well as a wide range of other marketing, accounting, IT and training support that all help them get their business up and running and keep it that way.”