In the year that I have been running my own business, I often get asked what I have learnt? My biggest learning is about the importance of getting the basics right. To be successful in establishing your brand no matter what it is, there are essential basics that I believe are not negotiable.

1) Know your customer/consumer – You cannot put your product or service out there hoping that someone will find it useful without having the clarity of who that person is? Knowing your target consumer helps to be very focused in how you design your marketing activities. It also is essential for example in defining the kind of experience you would like your business to offer. Lastly, it helps when you are making choices in general about your business e.g. when you decide what music to play – you will consider whether your target customer would find that appealing or not?

2) Study your competitors – Its not correct for one to pretend like there is no competition in the business they are in. The reality of the matter is that there is some competition out there and the best you can do for your self and your business is to acknowledge this fact. Doing competitor analysis and study helps to make clear what is it that you need to do differently to be unique. I believe that as a business owner, you must always seek to have your unique proposition that sets your business apart from what is out there. Studying your competitor is also a good source of inspiration. Lets be real, there is a lot you can learn from looking at what your neighbor is doing and being humble enough to admit to what they do well. So, learn from that.

3) Surround yourself with the best team – Your staff are the representatives of your business. They are the face of your brand so it is very crucial that you ensure that you have the right team. Think about the skills they should have and importantly also consider the personality they should display. If your product about wild life, you need a member of staff that is passionate about this and also who is informed. You also need to ensure that as you build your business, you spend time in training your staff about what you sell, why you sell it and how to sell it.

4) Get your service standards right –I often feel that this is an area that is most lacking across many business in South Africa. I have trained my team to know that our customers are the reason why we exist. When I read this quote “even your most regular client has an option” – it made such an impact in me that I have repeated it many times when talking to my team. It is true, there are options so your job is to make sure that each time your clients come to your business, they are appreciated and given the best service. A simple thing like greeting with a warm smile and saying thank you when they purchase goes a long way in achieving this. Notice how you feel when you are treated well as a customer – coach your team to do the same.



Nontokozo is the founder of SPA88, a high-end boutique spa based in Parkhurst Johannesburg. Nontokozo is an accomplished marketer with a BCom in Marketing and Business Administration from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. She has worked in various marketing incarnations at four of the largest South African multi-nationals Standard Bank, BAT, Coca-Cola, South African Breweries and now Hollard Insurance.




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