Marketing Strategies for Tough Times


South Africa entered a recession in the second quarter of 2018, for the first time since 2009.

Should you cancel your marketing plans, batten down the hatches and ride it out? Or should you beef up your promotional efforts and try to generate as much business as possible? These are questions companies have been asking now and for decades.

Maintaining corporate and product brand recognition should be considered an ongoing business investment. The moment it stops, it begins to lose power immediately, and future sales are in jeopardy. Studies have shown it takes four to six months to see the results of an advertising program. Cutting back during a downturn is like throwing away that investment. Maintenance today costs much less than rebuilding tomorrow.

Advertising should be seen as an investment rather than an expense. It is an investment  not only for short-term sales gains, but also for achieving longer term goals and developing brand equity. Strong and consistent advertising reinforces favorable attitudes toward your company and its products.

Data shows there is a direct effect of increasing or decreasing advertising during recessionary periods. The three basic premises are:

  • Advertising creates power. Companies that invest more in advertising over a period of years experience faster growth than those that spend less.
  • Advertising serves to revitalize. Companies that have increased their advertising budget during a recession have recovered more rapidly than their counterparts that have maintained or reduced advertising.
  • Advertising increases the bottom line. Organizations that have continuously increased their advertising investment have enjoyed similar increases in sales.

Here are some strategies that can help a company thrive in a recession economy.

  • Develop a strategic marketing plan. Don’t waste money advertising the wrong message in the wrong place and to the wrong audience.
  • Increase the advertising budget.  If your competitors cut back, your message has the chance to grow stronger.
  • Stay in contact with loyal customers. Keep in touch and let them know what you have to offer.
  • Product introductions. Introduce well-conceived and properly marketed new products when the competition is weak.
  • Sustain awareness. Advertising works cumulatively – remind people frequently about your brand or they’ll forget you.

A recession can help you strengthen the position of your company in your marketplace. Continuing advertising and marketing during a recession may not only be a smart thing to do, it may be a business opportunity you can’t afford to miss.



































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Your big tech guide – the basics you need to launch your business

In this guide, we’ll introduce you to technologies and tools you might need when you’re starting your own business.

Cyber security

Cyber security is not negotiable. Entrepreneurs need to ensure that they are protected from cyber-attacks, which can be detrimental to business continuity. Cyber security can prevent the loss of customer data and data backups.

Accounting cloud-based technology

These cloud-based platforms can help to increase productivity and provide entrepreneurs with real-time information via smartphone apps and the internet. Examples of these are SageXero and GreatSoft Cloud.

Project management tools

Entrepreneurs can create and edit documents online for free by using Google Docs. Tools like Asana and Trello are used for project management, productivity and project tracking. Slack is a team collaboration tool and service that allows you to communicate with staff and share projects.

Digital marketing

Mike Anderson, founder and CEO of the National Small Business Chamber, says all SMEs, no matter how small must professionalise their business.

“A few key things to action would be: a dedicated domain, a dedicated email, a website, a Facebook/ Instagram page and a Linkedin presence. This enhanced image and presence will allow the SME to be able to secure many more customers and grow top line quicker as seasoned businesses. Companies want to do business with those who take their business seriously and who are perceived to be stable and successful.”

Domain and website hosting

According to Hosting Web, domains can be bought and hosted from companies like AfrihostHetznerAxxess and  Website hosting is a type of internet hosting service that allows an individual or company to be visible on the internet.

Fibre and mobile data

The difference between fibre and mobile data is that fibre runs on a physical fibre optic backbone that connects an internet user with the internet. A mobile data connection runs on 3G or LTE and does not require physical cables.

ADSL and fibre are broadband connectivity solutions that use different infrastructure. The two also differ in the amount of speed they can reach. Beware: ADSL and even fibre can suffer from outages; having a mobile connection to fall back on is vital.

Social media

Social media management tools like Hootsuite and Buffer for example let you post and schedule social media posts on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

Mobile payment solutions

iKhokhaYocoWAPPointSureSwipe and ZipZap are examples of mobile payment options that entrepreneurs can possibly use. You can also make use of SnapScan.

Melissa Javan – freelance journalist and content contributor of the NSBC

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Make every Rietmark lead count

closing-dealsAs part of our commitment to helping local businesses, herewith a few tips to help your business close more deals!

Make a great first impression:
Give your business the best chances from the start with your first contact. Be friendly and accommodating over telephone contact. Ensure that the customer is free to speak or arrange a set time to phone back.

Follow up on your leads:
If you are unable to reach a customer by phone; don’t give up! Try again or send the customer an email stating you would like to quote them and arrange a time to phone back.

Improve your Rietmark advert:
Make use of our FREE design service for monthly, seasonal or periodical changes to your ad. Tell readers what is unique to your business or service. Keep contact details up-to-date.

Close leads by marketing your business:
Your business is your livelihood. So close the deal by making your business the best choice! Make sure you help customers understand why your business is the best for the job.

We hope these tips help your business to be even more successful. We look forward to  your business continuing to grow with Rietmark.

For any further assistance please contact us.

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Basic tips to drive further with your car’s fuel

13-555x370The continued increase in the petrol price means that expenditure on fuel is becoming an ever bigger monthly expense for every business and household. A few changes to your lifestyle and driving habits can make your fuel go further.

Drive slower

The easiest way to cut your fuel bill – and which will have the most pronounced effect on your wallet – is to change your driving style. Drive slower, do not speed up fast and rather coast to a stop than driving fast and braking hard. Rather leave earlier, relax and listen to some music. See your daily commute as a rare moment of quiet personal time.

Drive less

A little bit of planning can cut out unnecessary kilometres. Just spend a minute to think of what you need to do and cut out driving all around town. Find a parking between your destinations and walk a few hundred metres. Think if you really need to go shopping today, or can it wait until tomorrow when you need to do something else as well.

Lift club

A lift club is not for everybody, but can save a lot of money. Driving with somebody in the office or the building next door cuts the fuel cost in half. Or organise a lift for the kids.

Avoid traffic

Crawling along in first gear at 20km/h in heavy traffic uses a lot of fuel. Beat the traffic by leaving earlier or wait 10 minutes for traffic around the school to clear before driving off.

Check your tyres

Tyres are of the most important components of a car, and probably the most neglected.  Checking tyre pressure costs nothing and takes only a few minutes. Correct tyre pressure reduces fuel consumption, as well as wear and tear. It also makes your car much safer.

Switch off the air conditioner

Most cars have air conditioners and we all use them constantly, despite SA’s mostly mild weather. Air conditioner units use a lot of an engine’s energy and increases fuel consumption by up to 15%. Switch if off on mild days and use only the air circulation fan.

Loyalty programmes

Most banks and some retailers have linked up with fuel companies to offer some kind of loyalty scheme. Sign up for a suitable loyalty programme that gives you cash back, discount on vitamins or points to buy a new TV.

Service your car

Cars with dirty air filters, old oil and fouled spark plugs perform sluggishly and use more fuel. A quick service will make the engine more efficient and the savings in fuel will pay for the service within a few months.

And lastly, look at the fuel consumption if you are considering a new car.

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Simple tips to getting paid faster

shutterstock_134352887_supersize.jpgGetting customers to pay on time is one of the biggest challenges for business owners and when the problem persists too long, it can ultimately shut down a small business.

For any business, the amount of money flowing in or out is critical to its success. When money is tight, paying basic bills can get challenging. But when cash is plentiful, a business can invest in its future by expanding, buying new equipment, hiring key staff or retaining key staff by rewarding them further.

Late payments are at an all-time high as SMEs wait too long to get paid. The average amount owed to each SME is now at its highest level. The result is that SMEs are going out of business due to late payments. This is totally unacceptable, as in most cases when a small business goes out of business a family goes out of business.

Here are a few simple tips to getting paid faster and to keeping the cash flowing in:

Invoice your client immediately

The quicker you execute, the quicker you will be paid. Also, if you delay the invoice, it indicates that you not in too much of a hurry to get paid. Business owners are often slow at getting their invoices out once they have completed their work for a customer. Remember that your client has no obligation to pay until they receive an invoice, so don’t wait.

Make payment terms crystal clear

You need to communicate the deadline on your quotes and invoices clearly as well as in all your telephone and e-mail follow-ups.

Incentivise for early payments

Sweeten the pot and speed up payments by offering customers a small discount for paying early. Make sure the financial trade-off is worth it before you extend this offer. You don’t want to offer a discount that you can’t afford.

Invoice smaller amounts than that big invoice

It is a known fact that it is a “human thing” to dislike paying over money. So, what we need to do is make it easier by splitting invoices, rather issue a few small invoices than that big one. This sometimes poses a problem, however if you can do it, it certainly works.

Make a personal connection with the “Money Team”

The key success factor in growing the top line is to build solid relationships with the decision makers. What we forget to do is build relationships with those in the business that pay the accounts. Get personal with the “Money Team” and get them to pay you first.

Itemise every detail

You need to itemise every item on the invoice and clearly state the unit cost of every item. Going backwards and forwards in correcting invoices is a big contributor to delayed payments.

Check that every invoice is accurate

To elaborate further, ensure that all the correct details are on the invoice before sending the invoice out. Few customers will rush to query an invoice that doesn’t look right – they just won’t pay it.

Especially when you’re dealing with larger corporate or government clients, invoices can easily get lost in a maze of bureaucracy. Never send an invoice out blind. Always make sure you know the specific department, individual, email and/or mailing address to send your invoice.

Follow-up – use the telephone to chase money

Many experts in the field agree that making phone calls can be up to 80% more effective than emails and letters. Prioritise your cash collection and chase the oldest and largest debts first. One of the most common reasons small business owners don’t get paid on time is that they never follow up on late payments. When payments are due, follow-up immediately, by which I mean “the next day.”  

Always check whether a purchase order is required

Many large organisations will not pay an invoice without a purchase order. They are also unlikely to call you and ask for one. Your invoice will simply sit on a desk, not be entered into the system, and not paid. This could mean the difference between prompt payment or none at all.

Professional invoices get priority

Professional looking invoices are more likely to get attention and get treated as a priority than something that looks like you printed it out on an old printer or typed on any piece of paper you could find.

Look for invoice templates that let you create custom invoices featuring your business logo. Use bold colours wisely to emphasise the key parts of the invoice, like the total amount and the due date. Keep it simple; a cluttered, overly detailed design will only confuse the recipient.

Make the payment process easy

Offer a range of payment options to your customers and put your payment methods on all proposals, invoices and statements. For example, you might accept credit cards, debit cards, cash and EFTs. Different methods will suit different customers, so offer as many options as possible.

Article by Mike Anderson (NSBC Founder & CEO)


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The lifestyle balancing act


Juggling work, finances, friends, family and personal goals, while still trying to enjoy some down time can be tricky. The key to success in the fast-paced world is to declutter your life.

Running out of time has become the norm for most people. In this digital age, we’re all plugged in and connected 24/7. We expect everything to happen as quickly as we update our social media pages or microwave food. This “instant noodle” culture can cause enormous confusion, stress and fatigue.

“Our work lives are filled with busyness, distraction, procrastination, responding to messages, checking on messages, and getting lost down rabbit holes,” writes Leo Babauta on his website, Zen Habits.

“We struggle to be mindful and to focus on our meaningful work. Many of us want to create a life of meaning, focus, and mindfulness. We know this, and yet we struggle.” The result is that people tend to neglect themselves. In order to protect your emotional and physical health, it’s essential to find some time to do what’s important to you.

“It’s crucial that you prioritise and plan your time,” says life coach Penny Holburn. “You need down time to rid yourself of stress and to relax, so that when you’re with your loved ones, you can be present in the moment.”

Here are a few simple ways to declutter your life:

1. Manage your time and use it wisely
Make note of the things that take up most of your time and in which ways your time is being wasted. Consider making changes where you can. For example, if you’re spending a lot of time in traffic, ask your boss if you can work flexi-hours.

2. Take a break
If you’re one of those people who eats lunch at their desks, it’s a sign that you’re not prioritising your health. When you’re tired, your productivity and creativity levels fall and you’re more likely to make mistakes. Even if you’re busy at home, make sure your take regular breaks.

3. Have a plan
It’s not necessary to lock down every minute detail of your life, but it helps to have some kind of plan in place to make sure nothing is overlooked or forgotten. A routine that you are comfortable with will be beneficial in the long term.

4. Procrastination
Putting things off will only increase your stress levels in the long run. Get into the habit of getting things done as soon as you can.

5. Watch your finances
Debit orders can eat up a chunk of your salary, and it’s common to find that the rest is consumed by unnecessary expenditure. For your peace of mind, and to make sure you know where your money is being spent, make a list of all your monthly expenses. Use this list to create a budget and stick to it.

6. A digital detox
Set some time aside every day to switch off all devices such as phones, tablets, computers and the TV, and do something that you really enjoy, be it yoga, spending time with the kids, walking the dog, etc. Do your best to be present in these moments and avoid distractions.

7. Organise your work area and living space
A cluttered environment can lead to a cluttered mind, so clean up the desktop on your computer, organise your desk and/or office, and repack all the cupboards in your home.

8. Get help and delegate
If you have tasks that someone else can help you with – at home or at work, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Better yet, learn to delegate certain tasks so that you can focus on what’s really important to you and what you do best.

Liberty Newsletter April 2018

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Turning an idea into a viable business

Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, a British science fiction writer and inventor, remarked that new ideas pass through three periods:

1. It can’t be done.
2. It probably can be done but it’s not worth doing.
3. I knew it was a good idea all along.Coming up with a groundbreaking idea is only a small part of the entrepreneurial journey; the real trick is to be able to determine, with some certainty, whether it can be turned into a viable business.

How does one come up with a business idea? There is no prescribed way – the process varies from looking for a solution to something that is bothering you, to an innovation in a sector that seems to be in a technology-development curve. Settling on an idea is often done by confirming and checking its merits carefully. Avoid the trap of having a solution and then looking for a corresponding problem it could solve.

While being an entrepreneur might involve inventing or reinventing the wheel, more often than not it is about improving the wheel by offering a better service or product than existing competitors. An example would be a new butchery that offers a better quality product.

Entrepreneurs are often a mix of inventor and innovator as they recognise a trend or identify a shortcoming, and then create a solution in order to meet demand or solve the problem.

Every good business begins with research. When new business ideas fail, it is often not because of the idea but due to insufficient research. A few vital aspects to consider when researching include customer insights, product or service supply and demand, competitors, financial viability and the availability of funding.

One of the best tools is a Swot analysis used to define a business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Some vital elements to consider:

Passion: If you are not passionate about your business, you will be tempted to give up sooner.

Central idea: Your idea seems perfect to you, but how unique is it? Any good business needs a unique selling point (USP). Research whether the idea has been done before, what the USPs are for the competitors, whether there is a legitimate need for another provider and whether the idea has long-term sustainability.

Defining the market: Analyse your target market in order to establish what your customers want and how they communicate. It is important to research and analyse your competition, including their strengths and weaknesses. This will give you an indication of where to position yourself in the market.

Calculate the figures: Calculate your running costs, cost of sales, pricing structures, profit margins (both gross and net) and cash flow forecasts. Conduct two different forecasts – one for the worst-case scenario and one for the best. Then start researching potential sources of finance.

Persevere: Entrepreneurs should not be disheartened by the need to constantly rethink, retool or redefine their offering. Refocusing should be taken as a predictor of future success.

It is crucial to remember that entrepreneurship is a constant work-in-progress, and success takes research, planning and hard work. Those willing to go the distance will have the opportunity to hear many of their detractors acknowledge that they knew theirs was a good idea all along.

Ben Bierman is the managing director of Business Partners Limited

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