Over the festive season, I walked down to the rocks near Kalk Bay to show my daughter and son an old fish trap along the coastline. They were amazed. They asked me how old the fish trap, made in the rocks on the water’s edge, was. I really can’t give a precise answer because to my knowledge there is no history of these fish traps around the South African coast. Some romantic historians would put these fish traps in ancient times but this one in particular looked as though it had been made about more than 100 years ago.
Basically the idea was to build a wall in the among the rocks that would allow the high tide to flow over into the rock pool and when the tide subsided fish would be trapped inside the rock pool. Even though I occasionally went down to this fish trap to look if any fish had been caught in my younger days growing up at Kalk Bay, I never once saw a fish in this trap. Perhaps many decades ago fish had been more abundant in False Bay and had been caught in these traps. Who knows? One isn’t even sure if the fish traps really worked even in those days.
This old fish trap reminds me of how start-ups and small businesses can devise ways to “trap” customers. These days most of the traps for small retail stores are set by the large shopping centres which have as their “bait” the magnet stores such as the large discount supermarket chains and appliance retailers. If the traffic flow into a large shopping centre is strong, then the small retailer rides with the tide of shopping patterns and scores. But as you well know, the price for occupying space in these shopping malls is exorbitant. I don’t want to go into the square metre costs I have come across and the sad tales from the retailers who have had to evacuate the shopping centres in this economy. All I’d like to say is that the smaller retailer crushed by these shocking costs have looked for alternatives.
On the day before Christmas, there was a front page photograph, taking up half of the front page, that showed paddle board riders dressed in Father Christmas outfits. On the surface, this photograph looks like a spontaneous and happy occasion to add to the merriment and spirit of Christmas. But on closer inspection one of the riders was the main distributor for these paddle boards in South Africa. Relationships with the staff of this local newspaper enabled this publicity shot to be taken and focus these paddle boards in the spotlight. So what appeared to be merely a fun photograph was actually a commercial for the paddle boards.
Not every small business owner is fortunate enough to personally know the staff on a local newspaper but can try gain publicity through a press release and a well chosen photograph. The thing is you would need to have a pretty good news sense to come up with a concept that would attract the editorial staff of your local newspaper. If you don’t, whatever you send to the news desk will merely come across as advertising. Yes, you can do it for yourself but if you don’t know what you doing you will probably get a bad reputation.
Another good way to promote your business, if it applies to your type of business, is Facebook. One entrepreneur I spoke to recently in the maritime industry says that most of his leads now come from Facebook. Even the Facebook profile for this business needs to be professionally projected and managed. Just slapping up something on your Facebook pages won’t really make the cut these days.
If you are looking for ways to promote your new product or service, you should put your name on the waiting list for my upcoming book “Breakthrough Ideas”. The promotional sections of my book have been written with more than 30 years experience in the publicity game by a consummate professional who has personally gained publicity for start-ups, small businesses, medium-size businesses, large conglomerate food manufacturers, the financial services industry as well as industrial companies. Put your name down on the waiting list if you need a better promotional approach than what you presently have.