Article Feature in Entrepreneur SA Magazine
We would like to thank Nadine Todd for the awesome feature in Entrepreneur SA Magazine on our company and accomplishments.
Not to blow our own horn but, we are kind of a big deal! Did you ever see our Feature In Entrepreneur SA Magazine!
Let’s face it, no one likes a show-off! But we are still so proud of this milestone that we had to show it off again! However, seeing this was way back in 2017 let’s call it a throwback!
Please feel free to read the article by clicking here.
How Two Durban-based Entrepreneurs Have Found Their Niche!
UPDATE: We now have offices in JHB as well
Launching a business is all about recognising a gap in the market – and then capitalising on it.
- Players: Judd and Claudia Sherrin
- Company: Innovative Marketing SA
- Launched: 2015
- Visit: innovativemarketing.co.za
“When husband and wife team Judd and Claudia Sherrin moved from Joburg to the South Coast, they planned to maintain their full-time jobs and work remotely. They were both working for a media house in Joburg, with Claudia involved in the editorial, design and eventing side, and Judd running advertising sales. Instead, the move launched them into entrepreneurship.
Here’s how they capitalised on a niche, and what you can learn from their start-up journey.”
1. Find a niche
The most successful start-ups solve a problem. It’s entrepreneurship 101. If there’s a problem that you need a solution to (and would pay for), chances are there are others like you looking for that same solution. It’s a simple yet elegant way to develop a business idea. For Claudia and Judd, it became apparent that South Coast-based businesses did not have a strong online presence.
“It was 2015. The way I primarily found advertising leads in Joburg was through Google and business directory searches. That wasn’t working in KZN. The businesses I was looking for existed, but they had no online presence,” says Judd.
There was definitely a gap in the market, and Judd and Claudia knew they had the skills to fill it. They understood marketing, the digital space and content and eventing. They started putting a business plan together.
2. Create a runway and bootstrap the business
Judd resigned from his position, but Claudia maintained her full-time position for another year. This gave the couple the runway they needed to launch their business without worrying about bills needing to be paid.
It’s always tough to maintain a full-time job and launch a business, but if you have a goal in mind, and use your funds wisely, it’s an excellent way to bootstrap your business. It also means that any funds generated early can be reinvested into the company, instead of being used to pay personal bills.
One year into the business, Judd and Claudia’s first client invested in their business and became a silent partner. The cash injection allowed them to accelerate their growth, but they wouldn’t have attracted an investment partner if they weren’t already operational and proving their business model.
Bootstrapping your business is the best way to do that, because you’re in the market, finessing and tweaking your model.
UPDATE: Within two years we had managed to buy our silent partner out, regaining 100% ownership of our business!
3. Create a compelling value proposition
“The incredible thing about digital is that you can track it,” says Claudia. “This means we have the data to prove any claims we make about digital marketing and the online space.” The trick is to use that data. “People respond to data,” agrees Judd.
“We don’t go into a meeting without firm numbers to prove our case. We show return on investment, how traffic is generated, who is viewing and responding to digital marketing, geographical locations and demographics.” says Claudia
This information doesn’t just prove Judd and Claudia’s sales case, it’s critical to fine-tuning campaigns once they are launched, ensuring more successful marketing spend.
4. Educate your market
“We recognised there was a gap in the market. This meant they either didn’t understand why they needed to be online, or they were fearful of change. Either way, before we could sell our services, we’ve needed to educate the market on why having an online presence is so critical in today’s competitive business environment.” says Judd
“You can’t sell your service if your market doesn’t buy into what you do,” agrees Claudia, “so that was our first challenge. We needed to break the online world and digital marketing down into their base elements.” says Judd
“You can’t expect a business owner to invest in your services if they don’t believe you can help them, which means before you can pitch your business, you need to lay the foundations of why your industry is such an important marketing and business tool, and how it will benefit your client.”
“Change is fearful,” adds Judd. “The more you educate, the more people understand the benefits of what you’re offering, and the less they fear doing something new.”
There is always the danger that a competitor swoops in with a sales pitch after you’ve put in the groundwork, but it’s a risk worth taking. Without an educated market, you won’t make meaningful sales anyway.
As market educators, Claudia and Judd are also setting themselves up as the local experts in the field. They’ve even taken on pro bono work to cement this position.
“We work closely with the South Coast Tourism Board. This gives us credibility with local businesses, particularly as most of our clients are in the hospitality industry,” says Claudia. “The pro bono work allows us to build up our stock profile, generate original content, and network at their events. Our work with South Coast Tourism provides a case study to prove what we can do with a client whose referrals the local community trusts. It’s a win-win relationship.”
Referrals have worked well. “Our silent partner is a respected business owner in this community, and so his word and what we achieved for him carried a lot of weight,” says Judd.
“While you’re educating your clients, make sure you’re listening to them as well,” adds Claudia. “Telling people what they should be thinking is a poor strategy. Educate your market, but listen to their needs and concerns, and tweak your offering accordingly. You need to work together, and all business plans should constantly evolve to suit market needs.” says Claudia.
5. Have a growth plan
Judd and Claudia might have started a niche regional agency, but their growth path is focused on a national footprint. “We already have clients in Joburg and Pretoria,” says Judd.
“Our first goal was to assist our local market. By driving tourism we’re also helping to grow our local economy. All businesses belong to the same ecosystem, and we’re very conscious of this fact.” says Judd
Working at a local level provided a platform and experience to target other markets. “Our focus now is to build an online business that can cater to international markets,” explains Claudia.
UPDATE: Here was are 5 years later, bigger, better and stronger than ever, with branches in multiple provinces, services customers throughout South Africa as well as international! – GOAL ACHIEVED!
On an ending note, we would like to thank Nadine Todd for the awesome feature in Entrepreneur SA Magazine on our company and accomplishments.
Innovative Marketing SA™️ is an award-winning complete digital marketing turnkey solution with the added benefits of graphic design, copywriting, sponsored campaigns, website development and customised branding services.
We populate & manage the online community with your business’ brand identity for you. All in an effort to develop and monitor your business’ success and growth by keeping you in front of mind in the consumer’s markets.
For more information:
Please get in touch with us on 082 568 7525 / (011) 888-3658 | email@example.com
We would love to connect with you @InnovativeZA
Written by: Nadine von Moltke-Todd
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