The small business guide to effective advertising

By Charlene Smith

In the first ten years of this century technological advances exceeded all
those of the preceding one hundred years and by 2016 we will have leapt over

Today more people get their information over their cellphones than their
computers, drones are already filming movies, catching criminals, fighting wars,
and will soon deliver your pizza.

Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, an investment company is the
world?s foremost authority on the Internet. Her annual report is eagerly awaited,
the most recent one released in early June in the United States noted that
growth in mobile data increased 81 percent in the last year and video was the
most powerful driver.

What does that mean for you? You should be shooting short videos - twenty to
thirty seconds, on your smartphone of you or your business and posting it on
your website and social media sites - Twitter and Facebook. If your business is
not on social media, the question needs to be asked: why not?

If you?re serious about getting ahead, you?re on social media and actively
studying it. Your website should have no more than 300 to 400 word
descriptions per page - enough to comfortably read on a mobile, anything
longer is not going to be read. Because as Meeker notes a rapidly growing
market - 30 percent - at present is reading everything on their cellphone.

The World Bank says smartphone use will more than double in Africa over
the next four years. There are already 11 million smartphone users in South
Africa and our population of 50 million owns 66 million cellphones. So what are
we doing with our cellphones? Everything. Phoning, texting, studying, shopping,
taking photographs and videos, they?re as essential to our lives as a roof over
our head.

Key trends show that the remote control, cash, and the television set are going
the way of the dinosaur, you?re already doing most of this on your phone, and if
you?re not, you will in less than five years. In the United States close to half of all
grocery shopping is done on the Internet with free shipping and a move to same
day deliveries, Jeff Bezos of Amazon wants within-the-hour deliveries by next
year, ideally by using drones.

And if you think South Africa is far behind, think again. Paul Kent, managing
director of SureSwipe, which has just launched SureSwipe Move a credit and
debit card swipe payment device for cellphones said, "a recent survey we
conducted of South African companies show that many aren?t keeping up with
technological advances, they?re clinging to old technology that is more expensive
and exposes them to a very small customer market.

SureSwipe Move as an example, costs half the price to rent of a credit or
debit card swipe machine - R150 a month, no contracts - and allows retailers or
even those just having a garage sale or fete to accept card payments even in
remote rural areas. It dramatically increases the potential for sales. And with
three-quarters of the population now having a credit card or debit card it?s
foolish not to have these as integral to your business.'

Apple, as an example, has similar swipe devices on iPads in its stores so
that no one ever goes to a cashierpoint or till, any salesperson in the store can
make the sale. "There are no frustrating queues and if the customer chooses to
have his receipt emailed to him then his information goes into a client database,
which helps the store serve the customer better,' Kent says.

Around a quarter of all the information you?re getting already comes to you on
your phone. Anything you put on Facebook or Twitter is going to get read almost
ten times faster than anything you put on a website, and its more likely to be
shared (if interesting and well-written).

Just five years ago around 10 million photographs were loaded onto the
internet each day, today around 2 billion photographs are uploaded daily - that
figure will more than double in the next two years. WhatsApp, as an example,
handles 50 billion messages a day, 700m photographs and 100 million videos.

And global bandwidth costs have dropped from $1,245 in 1999 to just $16
today, which makes South Africa?s poor bandwidth an ongoing mystery.
If you want customers to remember your ads ensure they are short videos, it?s
fine, and in fact probably desirable, for you to make them (no more than 20 to
30 seconds) on your iPhone, and tweet them too:

What all this means for the small businessperson is that you have never had
less excuse not to promote your business. You need little or no advertising
budget, but you do need to spend some time on Facebook and Twitter
examining what makes a good post that others want to share -and its never
hard sell, always something chatty and friendly, and that alludes to current
news or makes news.

Get a good smartphone, flex those thumbs, put your head down and start
building your brand.

What do you think?
Is social media the best way to advertise?