Small business is the beating heart of South Africa’s economic recovery. It is the micro, small, and medium enterprises that provide jobs and grow revenue as the journey to economic recovery continues following the disruption and lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During 2021, a client that offers a bouquet of services, including a monthly subscription legal service for small businesses, approached us. It wanted to build awareness of its product offering in the small and medium enterprise space, while also celebrating entrepreneurs who had adapted and thrived — rather than just survived — the lockdowns of 2020.
Beyond that, the brief was to create content that was driven by good storytelling — answering the all-important “So what?” question of content creation. We decided to use video because of its growing popularity with our readership, but it also provided an opportunity for a traditional print brand to spread its digital video wings.
Sharing their stories
The Step Up Your Business campaign ran for five weeks, releasing a new video each week supported by social posts as well as a QR code in the participating news brand’s printed edition. The code took readers to the microsite where all the videos were housed along with a hero gram to South African small businesses supported by the client.
In deciding which businesses to profile, our content team took the brief one step further. The lockdown had emphasised the need for businesses to move beyond simply pocketing their profit.
The five businesses we selected to be showcased were not only doing well financially but were doing well while taking on a specific social or environmental issue. Each of the five businesses put people and the planet firmly on their business plans — and made a profit because of it. We asked each entrepreneur to offer their best advice for others to step up their businesses and asked each about their legal challenges and how they managed them.
These five entrepreneurs have woven doing good while doing business into their company ethos, and their compassionate approach to business is fundamental to their success. For example:
- Bitprop is a property business that solves the very real problem of affordable housing while creating capital for landlords.
- African Marmalade grows heritage crops that support food security.
- Wakanda Food Forever professionalises food businesses to make them ready for supermarket shelves.
- Fabrosanz celebrates and leads in the African couture space.
- The final profiled business, Sun Ship, is tackling energy security.
Each video was between three and four minutes long, however the average time audiences spent on each was significantly more than that. Showing the stories of these unique businesses breaking new ground and helping solve ongoing social and environmental challenges struck a chord with viewers.
For the client, we fulfilled the brief, which was to build awareness of their product. In addition, one of the five businesses signed up with the client for this service based on being part of this project.
For another one of the entrepreneurs, the video we made has become his calling card, explaining what his business does and how he does it — something he said was difficult to explain to international investors without a South African context.
The final report on this campaign showed an average time on each video of more than six minutes, and we outperformed the KPI for the number of views for each of the five films by an average of 60% each.