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  • Angela Meuwsen-Sterling

21-days of study for small businesses and startups



South Africa is gearing up for a 21-day shutdown, some businesses will continue to work through, and others will physically close their doors for 21 Days. But one thing you will have, more time on your hands. Calculate your driving time and allocate this to your study time on your business.

Now, what if I told you that the 21-day isolation could make your business stronger? You probably say that I am fucked in my head, but before you make that call read my article and then let me know if I am. 


Over the last couple of months, I have work with some small business owners and mentored them on their business, both in the canna industry and others. The most common problem kept raising its head when asked to implement change to scale their business, and this was that they did not have time. When analysing their schedules, there were one or two businesses that did not have time. Still, for the bulk, it was fear, having to look at a fast-moving market and online world that keeps changing and to have to keep adjusting your business model can be pretty scary for a small business.


Current stats in the USA 2020



As the Millenials (in the US 51.49%)are now the largest consumer group and Gen-Z (25.74%) are entering the consumer market, it becomes crucial that companies take a multi-level and cross-medium marketing approach. But how will you find out where you have to spend your money. The Hemp & Cannabis industry is one of the fastest-growing markets, with the fastest-changing business landscapes in the world. If your business is not moving with these changes, you will soon find ourself left behind. So, take out your business plan dust it off and start with the following;


1.Reidentify your audience

Most Small businesses start with a more organic audience plan, this is done with testing, word of mouth and knocking on doors, and yes, this has brought customers, but now you have hit the wall. You have a stable, loyal consumer base, but you are not growing. Most of your current clientele is the once that were with you before it was legal to grow and you may have gotten a few through referral and even less through advertising.

With legalisation around the corner, your marketing strategy will need to change, as it will bring global competition and more choice for the consumer. As a business, after pinpointing your customer personas ensure that you apply their needs and wants to your business, ensure that you include a sizeable uneducated market segment, that is not familiar with the Hemp & Cannabis sector.

What are consumer personas

This will contain essential information about the person

  • The size and kind of company this person works for

  • What is their job, and what role fo they play in the company

Demographics

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Salary or combined household income

  • Location: are they urban, suburban or rural

  • Level of education

  • Family size

Goals and challenges

  • Main goal

  • Secondary goal

  • Can your business or product help reach these goals

  • Primary challenge

  • Secondary challenge

  • Can your bus/product assist in resolving these problems

Values and fears

  • Main personal values

  • Main fears

  • Common objections during the sales process

You will need to create 2 to 3 Personas that match your current and future consumers, these personas will make up 90% of your business success, be honest and realistic with your current business personas, give them names to create a human element.

Now you have identified them, what are their common challenges? What possible solutions can your business offer? You may be in the CBD product market, over the last two year there has been a lot of interest, but these have not unlocked sales. Your challenge may be in the following areas;

  1. Staff or businesses may not be adequately trained in the products

  2. An increase in competitors, creating saturation in the market

  3. Conflicting sales promises across competitors are confusing consumers  

  4. Stigma may make customers reluctant to purchase products


2. Tweak your business processes

When you launched your business, what was your post business plan positioning? With Sciences, discoveries and global market impact the landscape in the Hemp and Cannabis industry changes on a month to month basis. Is this having an effect on your internal/external business activity as well as your offerings? This impacts your marketing as well as product and service delivery.

3. investigate your business resources.

With business growth, the day-to-day needs in your business will change, are these been addressed. With unexpected global changes are your business goals being addressed and adjusted?


Set up a list of business needs that is set for growth. Then create a roadmap to meet these goals and adjust your business plan. Some examples may be website update, going from a basic to selling online or even the other way around. One that is on everyone's mind raising capital, updating and streamline your customer lists just to name a few.


4. Develop a strong value proposition.

Every business has one, but what is it? Value propositions are the innovation, service, feature or a combination of any of these and are intended to make a company or product attractive to customers. As the industry landscape changes, you may need to keep adjusting this to match the demand and external market growth. This is important, especially right now, it is the glue that creates customer retention. Utilise this time to create messaging to your customers to instil these values, this can help with customer retention, manage losses and set your business up for long-term growth.


5. Current & future business partners.

Partnerships are the backbone of a business, they can come in suppliers, strategic partners, alliances, marketing and advertising partners. These relationships are built through ethos, growth and loyalty. But what happens when business grow? We are creatures of loyalty and habit, but at some point, you do need to analyse if these partnerships are growing with you or are you outgrowing these partnerships. Through a needs analysis, you will find the gaps, and you can look at how these gabs can you filled, whether it is through partnerships or adjusting internal structures. This exercise could change the dynamic of your supply chain and could also streamline revenue if appropriately planned.


6. Create a demand generation strategy.

As your business grows, you would have followed a strategic plan on creating awareness for your business. You now have a strong understanding which personas impact your business. Is your marketing strategy still in line with the personas that you have identified? Do not just look at addressing for now survival. Your marketing plan needs to be set out to gain a long term brand loyalty, and it is vital that you now spend time and revenue on brand awareness. Your three personas may be on three very different platforms and may need three different approaches. This may sound very daunting, but it is simpler then you think. B2B want to know more about your product and where it is positioned in the industry and consumer market. Consumers want to be informed about the product, be educated. These personas also mostly want to know what your brand lives by and how you are your global/local and environmental impact.  


For all the personas, communication will be the key that will unlock the value of your business. It is also essential that you communicate to these personas in their taal (language), meaning, business needs to be factual and informative consumers relate to storytelling, something they can bond with. Because they live on different media platforms, you may need to look at producing material that matches these platforms. The Hemp & Cannabis industry has mostly marketing creatures that tend to stick to one platform, and with an ever-expanding market, you may want to adjust this strategy. For prospective consumers, online platforms to consider are Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and Youtube. Printed communication will also play an important role, especially if your consumer is interacting with your product through a third party.

For your current consumer, all of the above will work well, you do have an asset that you can utilise, your client list. Create newsletters and inbox your clients through social media, email and even with WhatsApp.


The most important objective is not to spam your clients but to keep them informed.


This exercise can be done by you the business owner/s and if you planning to reassess your target market in this 21 days, THC-A , can help you over this period remotely.


Angela, tel +27 82 7352169 or email angela@thc-a.co.za



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