Every July for the past three years we have been entrusted with the task of touring South Africa to video interview and shoot photographic stills of the finalists of the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition.
The nuts and bolts of the project are to shoot photographs of the entrepreneurs at their places of work and to produce a 30-minute mini-documentary about the finalists, their businesses and the respective roads they have walked in the process of developing their enterprises.
The annual project has taken us around the country every year of the competition – mostly to business centres such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Bloemfontein, but also to smaller towns such as Paarl, Tzaneen and George.
On a more personal level, it’s turned out to be the most interesting, humbling and inspiring project we have ever worked on. Rubbing shoulders with other entrepreneurs, picking their brains and asking both workaday and deep questions has turned out to be a motivation, a major learning experience and a privilege.
But what is this person, the entrepreneur? This renegade upstart that just about every economist says is vital for growth and employment creation?
After three years of meeting, interviewing and photographing business owners, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to entrepreneurs.
They often share traits, but perhaps the most important thing about entrepreneurs is that they are all individuals. They may share ideas, viewpoints and methods – but they are very much their own people with their own ways of seeing the world or doing things.
That said, they often, but not always, share these traits:
Square peg, round hole – the Business Partners brand of a box in a sea of round holes is apt. Entrepreneurs tend to “think different”. They don’t follow the crowd. They do their own thing. They are mavericks. They defy the status quo. They look for opportunities in what others see as chaos. They did not “fit in” at school. They may have been a bit nerdy until they found their “mojo”. They were no “teacher’s pet”, but more likely spent a lot of time getting “lashed” or in detention.
Entrepreneurs defy authority and authoritarians – or anyone or anything that is designed to restrict freedom of thought or action. They are on something of a “holy” mission to make the world a better place and defy anything that gets in the way of what they see as progress.
They are people of “faith” – entrepreneurs believe strongly in the unseen. They have a vision and they make it happen. They have faith that what is unseen, is in fact quite real. So it’s not surprising then that regardless of religion or denomination, many entrepreneurs are active in some form of faith or live by some kind of philosophy or code of conduct that respects that which is greater than themselves.
They love people – Entrepreneurs soon learn in their business walk that “it’s not all about them” and that it’s also, perhaps more so, about the people around them. Entrepreneurs literally love their people and will do just about anything to grow, nurture and maintain good employees.
They build creches for their farm workers. They pay for therapists to help their people grow. They are quite likely to pay above the industry average.
It’s not all altruistic though – entrepreneurs learn quickly that happy people are productive people and if they are to achieve their respective visions they need the right people with the right attitudes to succeed.
Most entrepreneurs are outgoing “people” people – They seem to trade off the sheer power of their friendly outgoing personalities and not “learnt” assets like education. They have many friends and even more acquaintances. They are “naughty” and full of fun. People gravitate to them and they are a blast to be around. At some point in their lives they have likely been the “life and soul” of the party and have held up more than one bar.
Or they are strategic, more introverted and highly educated – About one or two in ten are the opposite of their extroverted brethren. They are quieter, often more bookish and have used education, study, theory and precision as the bedrock of their success. Then again, some are a mixture of these two personality traits in that they are both highly educated and outgoing extraverts.
The outgoing extraverts have success hangups – Many entrepreneurs seem quite surprised by their own success.
To less extroverted highly educated entrepreneur, their success is merely the last step in a long line of academic successes.
By contrast, more extraverted entrepreneurs are often masters at “winging it”. As one entrepreneur recently said in an interview: “An entrepreneur jumps off a bridge and figures out how to build the plane on the way down.”
The entrepreneur who “wings it” and finds themselves “suddenly” successful may have a distorted view of themselves and see themselves at least at some level as “frauds” who are “undeserving” of their own success.
Instead of everything about them being “wrong” it’s now, miraculously “right”. Having been the “class clown” and spent much time in the headmaster’s office or detention room, success later in life may throw them into something of an identity crisis.
They seem to have ADD or ADHD tendencies – and cannot sit still. They move their chairs around in an interview. They talk with their hands and bump things around them. They run three projects simultaneously. They have more than one business to keep them busy. And they don’t ever seem to run out of energy.
They get ideas in the shower, on the toilet and in the dead of night. And then insist on immediately bouncing these ideas off someone else at the most inappropriate times. They are almost always forgiven for their idiosyncrasies by the recipient of the call, less so their spouses.
They have sacrificed – and often deeply – for their success. When times were tough and all the entrepreneur had was a faith their business would work, not everyone believed in them. The girlfriend left them for someone with a stable income. The boyfriend was a loser who was holding the entrepreneur back. The wife got fed up with the school fees not being paid on time and left with the kids. “Oh dear” her parents commended disdainfully as she set up her third business after the last two failed. “What is she doing this time”.
They pick their people well – But only after burning their fingers first. Since entrepreneurs love people and tend to empathise with others they have tried at least once, likely twice, to give good work to undeserving people. When that fails they realise that good work goes to good people and they hone their skills at selecting and keeping talent.
Entrepreneurs give and receive help – They take advice from others and give of their own. Entrepreneurs don’t pretend to know everything and frequently ask others for advice and help. In return they freely give their advice to others when asked.
They have challenged their ideas around money – Entrepreneurs have wrestled with their attitudes towards the making and spending of money. They have almost universally rejected the idea that money is “bad” but recognise that the “preoccupation” with money gets nobody anywhere. They respect that money is the “lifeblood” of their business but they don’t see money as their business. Money for an entrepreneur is an “enabler” for what they want to achieve – not the achievement itself.
Entrepreneurs “fail forwards” – They get knocked down and get up again. Many entrepreneurs have failed more than once. The business that brings them success in the end is likely just one out of a multitude of failed business attempts. So while it’s often quoted and quite real that most startups fail, to the entrepreneur this is no tragedy. Failure is seen as a learning experience and quite likely, a stepping stone to success.
The video we are producing for this year’s event is currently in production and will be first shown at the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year awards ceremony on 1 September. Thereafter it will be broadcast by Business Partners through their social media and other channels. The photographs will form part of their internal and external marketing campaign surrounding the awards.
It’s likely you have seen this video more than once – shared on YouTube, Facebook on another website or via an email link. But when an ad industry website asks the question whether it’s the best corporate video ever made, it’s certainly worth taking the time to absorb the message again.
In his post, writer Neil Davidson does a good job of dissecting the core elements of the message in the video, why it works and what makes it so powerful.
But I think that he misses one of the most important elements here:
All the client needed to do in this case was to hire the right creative team and publish the resulting powerful message on YouTube.
That has resulted in over 28 000 000 global views (and counting) without Thai Life Insurance having to spend a cent in advertising distribution.
People watch it, because it’s good. And then they share it.
While most will realise that this is just yet another example of why viral marketing through social media is so powerful, it is my feeling that we should also recognise the power of the medium itself.
A recent Cisco report maintains that:
Globally, consumer internet video traffic will be 80 percent of all consumer Internet traffic in 2019, up from 64 percent in 2014. This percentage does not include video exchanged through peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing. The sum of all forms of video (TV, video on demand [VoD], Internet, and P2P) will be in the range of 80 to 90 percent of global consumer traffic by 2019.
Another Cisco report claims that:
- Mobile video traffic accounted for 55 percent of total mobile data traffic in 2015. Mobile video traffic now accounts for more than half of all mobile data traffic.
- Three-fourths (75 percent) of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2020.
- Mobile video will increase 11-fold between 2015 and 2020, accounting for 75 percent of total mobile data traffic by the end of the forecast period.
Marketers globally recognise that the current trend and future of marketing is the internet. And if the future of the internet is video, the future of marketing itself is a motion picture medium.
For the past three years we have been building extensive capacity in the production of corporate video – and especially video that can be published and shared online. Whether in South Africa or abroad, feel free to give us a call on +27 33 343 3995 or on +27 72 219 5297 or email me to find out how your company can take advantage of online video to grow your visibility, online brand and sales opportunities.
Our SEO partners over at Moz are always full of useful information about all things relating to SEO. In a recent email newsletter they provided a link to an article on SEOSherpa providing surprising results for 16 SEO experiments.
The most interesting observations for us are:
- Click-through rates from search impact Google search placement
- No matter what “they” say, optimising for mobile is critical for search
- Both good links and bad links impact search even after they are removed
- Despite big hints from Google urging us all to use https, looks like it can actually harm your ranking!
- Nofollow in robots.txt does not really work
- Links to other websites help your rankings, not harm them
- Nofollow links do increase your ranking after all
We’ve just gone live with a new look and feel and optimised SEO website for Treffynnon – Holiday cottages Pembrokeshire.
Long-time family friend Paul Perton was clearly happy with the rebuild of his own photo website paulperton.com that he recommended our Durban web design services to Steve Mallett, who lives in the UK.
Steve lives in the small holiday town of Pembrokeshire in Wales and rents part of his property out as a holiday cottage. Steve built his own WordPress site for the small business and over the years has had good success with search engine referrals resulting in rental bookings.
However, Steve came to us with a problem – the efforts of the “expensive” SEO referral company he had contracted were not bearing fruit. In fact, he felt that his website visits had suddenly and mysteriously “hit a wall”.
Worse, the same SEO company he was not getting any results from were recommending that he change the Treffynnon.com url of his website – an online brand he has taken years to build.
We made the following observations:
- Gaining access to Steve’s Google Webmaster Tools account did not reveal that Google was unhappy with his SEO efforts. It it possible to annoy Google with “black hat” SEO techniques to such an extent that they remove the listing from their search engine. They usually let you know of their disapproval through the Webmaster Tools service.
- Research into Steve’s Google Analytics account revealed a slow and steady decline in visitors, not the sudden dive that was Steve’s perception. Visitors were, in fact, down by almost half over similar periods in the previous year.
- The website had been optimised with a specific search term that did not have a strong “keyword market”. We could not determine why this would be the case and deliberated on whether it would be better to “own” a specific keyword phrase with a low search value over “sharing” search of keyword phrases with thousands more hits.
- The code in the website pages itself appeared confused and untidy. The pages were responding “strangely” and returned inconsistent code anomalies.
- The look and feel of the website was in urgent need of a clean overhaul.
Based on these observations, we made the following recommendations:
- Since there appeared to be nothing wrong with Google’s relationship with the Treffynnon.com url, we happily reported to Steve that it is unlikely a Google black listing was the source of his woes.
- We suggested that the cause of his visitor loss was probably due to incorrect SEO optimisation as well as increased keyword competition in his industry by large online letting agencies.
- We recommended and implemented a new look and feel that borrowed from his last site, but was much more up-to-date and complied with web standards.
- A Google Adwords campaign should be implemented early in January to combine with site upgrade and SEO efforts.
The result is the new website and our SEO upgrade efforts went live yesterday afternoon at www.treffynnon.com.
With regard to the SEO optimisation of the site, we concluded that it would be better to advertise on Google Adwords with a specific keyword phrase that would reduce ad spend wastage. But this strategy is the reverse of what the website SEO strategy should be – which needs to attract a broader visitor who may use different search terms to find what they are looking for.
We researched and recommended and implemented the following SEO search terms, related home and funnel pages:
- Holiday cottages Pembrokeshire
- Pembrokeshire holiday cottages
- Holiday cottages Wales
- Holiday cottages in Pembrokeshire
Steve also took a backup of his old site and loaded it onto the similar domain http://www.selfcateringpembrokeshire.com/
On informing us of this build, we immediately recognised the SEO opportunity for “link juice” and custom coded an SEO-optimised “under construction” page that points back to the main Treffynnon site.
While we know that the recommended Google Adwords campaign should deliver short-term results, it’s too soon to tell whether our SEO recommendations will bear fruit in the long-term and are interested to see how the site progresses over the next six to 12 months.