Your Business,
Dec 2019/Jan 2020 issue

By Amantle Mokubung

I recently helped a client plan and host an event outside the hustle and bustle that is the Gauteng province. Being based in one of our country’s metropolitan cities, it is easy for a small business owner to fall into the trap of applying a blanket approach towards a particular market’s media consumption, purchasing behavior and interests – moreover, if the market is female and the customer experience that is being created is an event. There are at least three interesting, female-centric events taking place in my area once a week. What could be harder than putting together another event, right? Wrong. It’s never easy to have a group of like-minded people walk through the door to support your event, it gets even harder if you haven’t invested time into understanding the market. Fortunately for this client, I was able to pull out a sheet of lessons learned from her previous event and we used these insights to create a whole new experience for her tribe.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him
in his language, that goes to his heart.”

Branding the event to use the local language has the potential to create resonance amongst the locals – a feeling of belonging and that the event had been tailored to suit their needs to the “t”. To achieve this, you need to unpack the layers of your concept and get to the essence of it – what inspired the idea and what are you hoping to achieve? Be careful not to come up with a cheesy name as it could offend a chunk of your market whom you might never be able to recover. Remember how sour the Pick ‘n Pay “iNkukhu” campaign went and ended up unintentionally becoming a wave for Nando’s to ride on? Also keep in mind that not everyone understands the widely spoken language in the area, take into account how common it is to have certain words used in order to avoid excluding individuals who do not speak the language. Verify the spelling, pronunciation and meaning of the vernacular words that you use with reliable local contacts.

Measure the performance of each communication platform and tweak your plan

Not every social media platform will work for your market. Avoid making assumptions about the popular social media platforms that will work better, rather test all of them and monitor their performance closely. From here onwards, you will be in a better position to make an informed choice. Look for the ‘insights’ tab on your business’ social media profiles and get comfortable with playing around with the available options. Have a look at the level of engagement each content piece receives and the post performance based on the type of content shared. You will soon understand if your market engages more with your video content as opposed to posts that carry images. Use that as a guide for creating your upcoming posts.

Cash, card or tickets at the door?

In the age of digital, it’s easy to assume that every other person is super comfortable with making online transactions. The reality is that part of your target market might prefer the experience of walking into a brick and mortar store or linking up with a part of your team in person to complete a purchase and receive a hardcopy ticket in exchange. While online ticketing systems make it easy for an event planner to keep track of guest bookings and extract reports as and when required, it is important to keep multiple payment options open and have them communicated clearly with your target market. If possible, you might also want to consider making a few tickets available for purchase at the door. Some markets tend to enjoy the hype around the event until the eleventh hour before deciding whether or not to attend the event.

Establishing a brand around the concept is critical for your sales

Locals tend to buy into the individuals and brands associated with an event as opposed to the content of the event. This makes brand building a critical when starting out. Be sure to invest time in introducing your market to what your brand is about and clearly articulating your proposition. If you can afford teasers or tasters of your brand experience by carefully selecting key influencers in the area and inviting them to an exclusive launch, go for it. Find fun and creative ways of bringing in individuals outside the influencer circle to keep it real.