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INTERVIEWS
By 14 August 2018 | Categories: interviews

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How do I grow my business? That is a question that every small and medium business will find itself asking, and having to answer, likely more than once. On the surface, the answer is simple – through advertising. But in the digital era, the best way to market one’s services or products, depending on the size and nature of your business, has changed. Expensive TV ads are not necessarily the best way to go, and leveraging the power of the internet often offers better results at a lower cost.

SearchKings Africa founder Brett Perlstein explained that for many businesses, Google Adwords offers a particularly viable way to promote their business and get the best possible return on their marketing expenditure.

Measuring progress

Perlstein noted that many SMEs fear advertising. That may not be a surprise, particularly for those companies spending R10 000 a month on fliers, and no way to ascertain what their return on investment is.

However, he elaborated, in a digital age, being able to measure what the outcome of marketing spend is entirely attainable.

As to what SearchKings does exactly, Perlstein explained that in a nutshell, the company uses the data behind searches to drive more relevant users to its customers' websites. It then assists customers to determine their audience and form strategies to market to them better. “Then, we assist in generating real meaningful marketing messages to grow their bottom line,” he summarized.

He continued that SearchKings leverages technology, licensed from its sister company in Ontario, Canada. This enables it to service multiple customers at scale.

Start small, grow fast

Even for those businesses that do see the benefit of advertising, SearchKings’ own growth has answered another, no less important question that arises for local SMEs: can you really grow a business in this tight economy, and can you do so fast? The answer, apparently is a resounding yes.

Perlstein explained that just two and a half years ago, the company had three employees. Today, it has 14 employees, and close to 200 customers across abroad range of industries.

Secrets of success

As to the secret of the company’s success, Perlstein elaborates, “We have carved a niche positioning ourselves as an SME marketing growth partner, concentrating on Google paid advertising.” This hyper-focused approach seems to have paid off, with SearchKings’s customers ranging from businesses that net R300 000 a year, to larger ones that makes several hundred million a year.

Explaining the latter, he laughs that they use the term SME lightly. “We are not going after blue chip customers though, as they aren’t really our fit.”

As to how he sees Google, Adwords and digital marketing disrupting the advertising space, he doesn’t believe that traditional advertising is dead.

“If you look at big marketing budgets, the percentage of digital marketing is tiny in comparison. Does TV and radio have a place? Definitely. But as an SME, you probably can’t afford to produce and run a local TV ad. I think radio still has a place, especially in a city like this where you are stuck in your car for a long time.

I don’t think traditional advertising is irrelevant at all, but we have tried to carve a specific marketing solution for a very specific customer,” he elaborated.

Meaning matters

However, Perlstein stressed, the company’s focus is not only about increasing the bottom line. “Our focus is largely on giving back. I find it particularly gratifying to help the likes of Reach for a Dream, We Think Code and The Star Academy, along with small businesses, such as Paul’s Homemade icecream, to grow,” he added.

As to how SMEs can avail themselves of SearchKings’ service, he encouraged prospective customers to reach out to them via their website for a thirty minute consultation.

One particular takeaway from the interview though was the potential that still resides in the country, and that hope for those looking to start a business, or grow an existing one, is alive and well.

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