Many entrepreneurs, particularly inventors and high-tech product whizzkids, still fall into the trap of ‘build it and they will come’. What’s marketing? Just a waste of money and time, especially if you yourself don’t understand what marketing is and how it works. And many technically inclined people simply don’t have the time to market their own inventions or businesses properly. It’s this common requirement that convinced Annie Kluson that there was a need for marketing services on a subscription basis. Kluson, marketing specialist at Brand New Ideas (www.brandnewideas.co.za
), says it’s for experts who know what they’re doing but don’t necessarily know about marketing.
“What we do is provide the services of top-calibre professionals in a consultancy role to help you take your business to the next level,” she says. “You are assigned a marketing professional matched to your company profile and industry, but with access to a wealth of knowledge and experience among their colleagues. Our backend system sends us a mail to tell us when people have signed up and we get pinged when someone asks us a question. However, I always answer the client so that people have one point of contact.”
Kluson studied human resources, negotiation and training and found herself in a liquor company as a brand ambassador.
“I really enjoyed it. I studied marketing and PR through that company and found my niche.”
She says it’s, ironically, been a challenge selling Brand New Ideas’ service.
“Selling a phone is easy: everyone knows what a phone is, how it works and how it makes calls. But with this business, people don’t know what they’re joining and what they’ll get. The closest thing I can think of to compare it to is LegalWise, except we’re a monthly subscription.”
The other challenge is that marketing is such a fluid process.
“You have to constantly try to invent. The work you do today could very possibly only get results between six months or two years. If you make a bad decision about a price on your pool-cleaning invention, then over the next period, other people will lower their prices and your top range will be completely outpriced. People think they can just hand out flyers and all will be good. But there are so many things to look at.”
Pay as you go
There are four BNi packages, ranging from R600 per month for two strategic guidance questions and half an hour of copywriting services, all the way through to eight questions, two hours copywriting and two hours of design work for R1 400pm. Kluson foresees that the small business owner would be quite happy to spend R1 400 per month for targeted marketing services. But she’s not going to be a mindless cheerleader.
“If we see someone’s product isn’t going to work, we will guide them and encourage them to make changes and try something new. We won’t be gung-ho about trying to sell something that won’t work.”
That having been said, most successful businesses are driven through their marketing departments, she says.
“Gone are the days when the marketing department in large corporations was known as the ‘fun and games department’. Today, marketing is business and without marketing, no business will achieve its true potential. For many companies today, their brand is by far their most valued asset. Marketing is and should be at the core of any business strategy but as a small to medium-sized business owner, you are faced with a very real predicament. Your company probably does not warrant a full-time marketing professional and traditional advertising agencies and marketing consultants do not cater for your needs or your budget.
“It is for this purpose that BNi was created. For a nominal monthly fee, small to medium-sized businesses can have access to marketing professionals who will assist them in growing their business and turnover.”