PR is an ideal way to spread the word about your small business.
That’s why we’re giving a R10 000 PR package to the winner of this year’s SANTAM Women of the Future Awards.
We’ve partnered with CN&CO to offer the prize.
Below, CN&CO’s Colin Ford writes about how you can generate PR for your SME.
How to Generate PR for Your Small Business
Public relations is a form of information management that gets public exposure for your brand or product line and/or for yourself as a business owner. PR can help to shape the credibility of your brand and the way people perceive you and your business.
The main purpose of PR is to share your message with the appropriate audience without having to pay for placement. Once you pay, it’s called advertising, and that’s an entirely different topic.
The effective use of PR can benefit your brand enormously and help you to grow relationships with the media and, ultimately, with your customers.
Here are a few tips for doing good PR:
1.Tell good stories
This might seem obvious – but remember the word “good” is extremely subjective. What you think is interesting or important might not be everybody’s cup of tea. You need to find angles that are newsworthy and tell stories that your consumers want to hear. And remember to keep it simple. The more streamlined and snappy your message is, the more likely it is to be remembered.
2. Choose the right media for your brand
Find out what media your customers consume and focus your energies there. Many business owners want to be seen on the front page of the Sunday newspaper, or be interviewed on talk radio by the financial guru simply because those are the media they themselves consume. Remember, your customers might not have access to the newspaper, or even listen to talk radio. The right medium could be a local knock-and-drop newspaper or a popular blog. It all depends on what you’re selling, who you’re selling it to and what your message is.
3. Build relationships
PR is a process; you need to work on building relationships both with the media and with your customers. Ultimately you want to become the person journalists call when they need information in your particular field of expertise. These relationships can take years to build. Be patient, be honest, be dependable and always be available.
4. Integrate with your marketing strategy
There’s no point saying one thing in your PR and another on, for example, your social media. Make sure your message is consistent across your advertising and communication platforms so as not to confuse your audience – or yourself!
5. Call in the experts
If you don’t feel comfortable or confident dealing with the media, speak to an experienced PR agency and see what they can do for you. A well-placed article or quote in a respected newspaper, magazine, radio station or blog can do wonders for both your business’s brand and your own.
For more on the Women of the Future awards, read Lulalend’s blog about the competition.
On 1 June, the COVID-19 national lockdown shifts to level 3. This means more sectors can get back to work.
If your SME will start trading again, you’ll need to follow rules to keep your staff safe.
In this guide, we’ve collected everything you need to know about trading during Level 3.
This guide covers:
- Who can trade
- What you need to trade
- Useful COVID-19 resources
The coronavirus slowdown affects us all. But, it’s especially tough for South African business owners.
Every day we speak with business owners who are struggling. They’re worried about paying salaries and sustaining their SMEs in a post-coronavirus world.
In response, the government, private sector, and citizens have come together to offer support when small businesses need it most.
At Lulalend, we’re working hard to understand how to provide the services and support that matter to business owners right now. Our affiliate programme is an important part of this effort.
In this post, you will learn:
- How to become a top Lulalend affiliate
- How Lulalend affiliates help SMEs grow during difficult times
COVID-19 SME support: What are we doing at Lulalend?
To support SMEs during this difficult time, we have:
- Continued to provide business funding
- Set up a Facebook group for South African SMEs to connect and support each other
- Created content that covers the latest on COVID-19 SME support
- Lobbied for government and private sector to join forces to help SMEs
We also depend on affiliates like you.
As a Lulalend affiliate, you play an important role in our COVID-19 support programme.
If you’re a business advisor or an accountant, you are already giving SME owners valuable guidance about the future of their businesses. Now more than ever before, business owners depend on your advice to make decisions about their short-term financial futures.
As a Lulalend affiliate, you can also tell them about fast business funding.
How top affiliates support South African SMEs
Lucille Bester, Lulalend’s Head of Sales, shared practical strategies used by Lulalend’s most successful affiliates.
Bester said top affiliates made their customers aware about online funding and shared relevant business finance content with their clients.
Here’s a summary of the top points:
1. Share your referral link widely
A simple technique to spread the word about online funding is to share your referral link whenever you communicate with new customers.
Bester suggested the following tactics:
- Add your link to your email signature
- Create a website button to display your link prominently
2. Use customer data
Perhaps you’re a business consultant or an accountant. It’s your job to sort through your customer’s data to steer them in the right direction, added Bester.
In some sectors, SMEs are busier than ever because they deliver goods and services that are in high demand due to the outbreak.
“Maybe there’s a client who’s missing out on new contracts or opportunities because of cash flow. Here’s where you can support them to secure funding,” said Bester.
3. Ensuring a perfect match
Our top affiliates understand the minimum requirements, which include:
- R500 000 minimum annual revenue
- One year trading history
Unlike banks, we don’t ask business owners to submit stacks of paperwork. All you need is three months of bank statements.
4. Teach your audience about business finance
Securing business funding can be a complex journey.
Your SME network can easily become overwhelmed with endless information from different sources.
“Your clients trust you. And they trust you to make ethical decisions in the interests of their businesses,” said Bester.
On top of connecting your clients with responsible funders, let your audience have access to content that serves their funding needs.
We’ve written about:
- How to apply for a business loan in South Africa
- The most common mistakes SMES make when they apply for loans
- How fintech speeds up fintech funding
Our blog is updated weekly with new content tailored to help SMEs get the funding they need to grow. When you give business owners more information about the minimum requirements, they stand the best shot at accessing finance.
5. Subscribe to our communication channels
At Lulalend, we believe in the power of community.
That’s why we set up SA Small Business Unlocked.
Plus, we publish the latest news on SME funding on the Lulalend Facebook and Twitter channels.
Our weekly email updates SMEs about new promotions and useful content.
It’s not always hard to find the right funder for your needs. We create content that aims to help SMEs make the best decision for their business.
6. Write a Lulalend review
By writing an honest, helpful Lulalend review, you can expand your own network.
Your profile will be noticed in the search results. And review based on your real engagement with the company positions you as a trusted contact for SMEs searching for funding.
Connect South African SMEs with easy access to capital
Are you ready to spread the word about fast business funding?
As a Lulalend affiliate, you have the power to save SMEs. Together, we can expand access to finance for businesses throughout South Africa.
Lindiwe Matlali teaches South African girls to code—through knitting. And thanks to Matlali’s efforts, more than 40 000 young people have learned to code.
As the founder and CEO of Africa Teen Geeks, Matlali heads up the continent’s largest computer science non-profit. And her story shows the difference women entrepreneurs can make in their communities.
Matlali is one of the past winners of the Santam Women of the Future Awards. The initiative, now in its sixth year, is a partnership between Santam, FAIRLADY, True Love.
This year, Lulalend is excited to be a co-sponsor.
Trevor Gosling, Lulalend CEO and cofounder, said:
“It’s been proven that women entrepreneurs make a significant impact in their communities. However, they often face several challenges and are underrepresented. That’s why we’ve joined Women of the Future in this initiative to celebrate women business owners. Women entrepreneurs go out and they change the world, and we’re honoured to be a part of that journey.”
Organisers are calling on South African women business owners, across all sectors, to enter the competition.
Suzy Brokensha, FAIRLADY editor, said the awards wanted to honour women in business.
“The figures coming out of South Africa – and the rest of the world – are really shocking in terms of the number of women who rise to board positions, let alone CEOs of companies. And yet it’s very apparent in South Africa that many women are running their own small businesses, and in many cases those small businesses are propping up and supporting communities.
“Our decision to start these awards was two-fold: to recognise and celebrate women who were already succeeding, and to encourage and offer support to women who were setting out to start their own businesses.”
There are three categories:
- Santam Woman of the Future: entrepreneur older than 30-years old who business is older than 1,000 days
- Santam Rising Star: entrepreneur between the ages of 16-years old and 30-years old who is still within her first 1,000 days
- Santam Social Entrepreneur: an entrepreneur who is making a difference in her community; she’s 30-years or older and her business is older than 1,000 days
The competition is open until 30 June.
The winner’s prize package includes R80 000 cash and key business services, including a PR package.
Apart from the prizes, the awards offered another kind of value to women: access to a network of experienced entrepreneurs, said Brokensha.
“The problem with being an entrepreneur is that you place enormous expectations on yourself – you have to do everything, from conceptualising the idea, to planning the business, to making staffing decisions, to working out the finances, to marketing the product.
“There are very few people in the world who can do all those things themselves. For me that’s one of the biggest rewards of the Women of the Future Awards: you connect with people who can really help, and you are given the faith in yourself and your business to make those connections work for you.”
And supporting women entrepreneurs has never been more important, said Brokensha.
“We really want to encourage women entrepreneurs in South Africa. Our economy is in crisis – we all know that. But there are women everywhere who are supporting their families by starting little businesses on the side.
“I always say, when a woman succeeds in business, she uplifts the people around her: she puts her money into education, training, support … her success spreads out like ripples in a pond; she doesn’t just channel it all into buying a flash car or a football club.”
And this year the women who enter the awards have a key role to play in rebuilding the South African economy.
“Our economy needs saving from the grassroots up, and these are the women who can do it.”
Brokensha said the awards would give entrepreneurs the support they needed to thrive during a difficult time.
“We desperately need to kick-start our economy again, and, if you have a fledgling business, you have probably taken a huge knock. You may have a great idea, but in these economic times, that great idea will need all the help it can get to survive. And that’s what the Women of the Future Awards can do for you.”
She called on all South African women to enter the awards.
“My favourite quote of all is one that comes from author Alice walker: ‘The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.’
“I would replace ‘people’ with ‘women’. With the Women of the Future Awards behind you, you have the power! Let’s make it happen.”
To enter the awards, or to nominate an entrepreneur, visit the Women of the Future website.
Small businesses can now apply for the government’s R100 billion COVID-19 loan guarantee scheme.
If your turnover is less than R300 million, you qualify for this COVID-19 SME support programme.
It is a joint initiative by the National Treasury and the banks. The South African Reserve Bank will manage the scheme and release annual reports revealing how much funds each bank has issued to SMEs under the scheme. This report will include default rates.
On 12 May, the National Treasury, the Banking Association of South Africa, and the South African Reserve Bank, released a joint media statement about the COVID-19 support scheme.
“Funds borrowed through this scheme can be used for operational expenses such as salaries, rent and lease agreements, contracts with suppliers, etc. Government and commercial banks are sharing the risks of these loans,” reads the statement.
Does your SME qualify for the scheme?
To qualify, small businesses must meet the following criteria:
- Existing relationship with the bank
- Good standing with their bank, e.g., up to date with other loan payments
- Good standing with SARS
- Must be in financial distress because of COVID-19
Loans will be released in three installments. SMEs get five years to pay off the loan, and banks may ask for collateral, according to a FAQ about the scheme.
Other conditions include an interest rate fixed at the repo rate plus 3.5%. Banks cannot change this rate;
“Businesses may not use these loans to pay dividends, make investments, pay bonuses or pay off other loans that the business may have,” reads the FAQ.
COVID-19 SME funds update
The announcement comes after the National Department of Small Business said it was running out of funds for COVID-19 support.
Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, the Minister of Small Business Development, told MPs the R530 million the department has set aside for small business relief was not enough to meet the demand, reports Fin24.
“Our pot or kitty is too small…we are working with National Treasury to make sure more money in the scheme is available”.
On Twitter, many SMEs have expressed frustration with the process. Some say they have not received feedback on the status of their applications. The department said all business owners should have heard the outcome of the applications by 1 May.
The department publishes a progress report on the debt relief funds on its website,
These were the latest debt relief scheme figures available on 13 May:
- Number of SMEs approved for funding: 1268
- Approved amount: R 433m
- Number of applications: 26039
- Complete applications in progress (processed by SEFA): 6741
- Incomplete applications resulting: 19298
Ntshavheni said the Unemployment Insurance Fund was helping to support SMEs.
The UIF released the following progress report on COVID-19 support:
- R11-billion had been paid out over 2million workers
- R100 million has been held back because the UIF can’t verify these workers bank details
- R2 billion can’t be paid out because the UIF is still waiting for more details from companies
For more on accessing the government relief, read our simple guide on COVID-19 SME Relief options.