Not an event. An invent.

Not an event. An invent.

At the inaugural dinner of the Small Business Showcase, hosted at The Tryst event venue, small business owners and business-minded people of all types gather to glean some value – and to make some real, live, face-to-face connections.

Poetically, the venue features décor and styling that you might call “start-up chic”: its iconic feature wall is being prepped for wallpaper, its screens are rented (as the huuuge new ones aren’t yet ready), and its branding proudly declares:

“Not an event. An invent.”

Working off this unusual base, attendees are wise to expect the unexpected.

Mark Sham, founder of the Small Business Showcase, kicks off proceedings in his usual way: by making the audience laugh. He explains that the Small Business Showcase was born largely by accident, when he set up a small video studio in a desperate attempt to keep his business alive during Lockdown 1.0.

Inviting other small business owners for interviews to pick their brains, Mark found himself able to tap into authentic feelings and sentiments in South Africa’s SME market – and social media went bananas! (Here’s a taste of Cakey by Davy.)

Supported by Sasfin Bank, Mark’s team has grown into its formal home at The Tryst, which includes two professional video studios, and has been able to record 80+ episodes for the Small Business Showcase, at no cost to the businesses featured. Perhaps more importantly, there’s now a growing online directory that exists to help people to connect with and use quality small businesses.

Having introduced the context, Mark calls on some of the small business owners in the room – to thank them, to showcase their expertise, to briefly share their stories.

Pepe Marais, Joe Public United

Mark then turns to Pepe Marais, founding partner of top brand and communications group Joe Public United and best-selling author, to provide five minutes of off-the-cuff wisdom – especially since his agency went bang in 2006. And Pepe delivers.

He shares the fundamental insight that brought his business back from collapse and became the foundation on which he would rebuild: Purpose for Business.

“It is my deepest belief that, just like every human being on this planet has a greater reason for being here, so too does every single business. But since most people are not aware of their own greater purpose, few business leaders ever find the authentic and fundamental reason for the existence of their business,” Pepe says.

“Yes, that tiny little one-word purpose at the core of each person on this planet is seemingly also present at the core of each business. And, once uncovered, it has the power to better our world irrevocably. Like a little pebble thrown into the sea on one side of an ocean, it will create a ripple effect that could wash ashore on the other side of the world. All you need to do is find the pebble of your business from which will spring the key strategy for its future.”

What’s Joe Public’s purpose? “Growth. We exist to serve the growth of our clients, the growth of our people and the growth of our country. This deep belief in why we do what we do drives our values, our vision, our daily mission — which makes up our culture. Our purpose gives us the clarity to circumnavigate all challenges.”

Tiffany Markman, writer & speaker

After rousing applause for Pepe and post a delicious buffet dinner prepared by Chef Hector, Tiffany Markman, copywriter and speaker, takes to the stage.

Also a resident of the creative hub that is The Tryst, Tiffany has three key lessons for those considering or avoiding content marketing, especially “if you’re a small, micro or medium-sized businesses – and you’re poepbang of big, scary content”.

1. Content need not be big and scary.

Change how you think about content. It can be as tiny as a tweet or as large as a white paper. It can be as simple as an opinion under a LinkedIn post or as complex as a webinar series. Depends on your appetite, really, and the objective of the message. “Content” sounds fancy. But it’s words. And pictures. For people.

2. Content must add obvious value.

Your content needs to be about ‘the them’. The target market. The prospect. The lead. Because people need it to be all about them. People need it to solve their problems. Otherwise, it’s just noise.

Share insights and wisdom. Give advice. Offer tips. Answer questions. And do so for ages and ages. Don’t expect anything in return. Just be generous with the smarts in your head. Educate, explain and enlighten. Provide access to what you’ve learned and what you know. It pays off.

3. Done is always better than perfect.

A naff piece of content, out there in the world, is much more valuable than a masterpiece sitting in your drafts folder. You can improve over time, but not if you wait for perfection. And not if you don’t bloody start.

Bottom line? If you focus on serving, not selling, your content won’t be slimy or ego-centric. And you have to put it out there, in the world, whether you think it’s ready or not. That’s where it can do your target market, and you, the most good.

Written by Tiffany Markman

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