What brand reps mean for South African small businesses 1


“Brand repping” is a reinvented way of advertising. It has been around forever and has recently been a growing marketing tool in South Africa for small businesses using people with a good eye, trendy style and growing online following. You can get high quality photo’s of your products in real life settings and you get to reach a far bigger audience. For any small business with a low marketing budget this is ideal.

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You do however get different types of brand representatives and it is important to know what will be a better fit for your business. Bloggers have been around for ages and would generally do paid posts or reviews on products, directly marketed to their audience or they will give a shout out to you on their social media pages if they love your product or you’ll get lucky enough to land on one of their “Top products” lists. A brand enthusiast is somebody that loves a brand and will receive discounts on the products to produce images and advertising for the brand, normally on social media. A brand rep normally receives some of the items at no cost, but they need to supply high quality images and posts showing off the products, so there is massive amounts  work involved and it’s not just about getting free stuff.

My business falls under more than one category, I have a blog and part of that entails telling my readers about amazing products and services and I also sell a range of products that I market mainly online so I experience both sides of “giving and receiving” products to market online.

As a small business in South Africa we have to compete against mass media, cheap imports, knock offs of our work and the really big retailers, so to make a mark in an industry is hard, especially if you are the sole designer and maker of your product as time is not your friend. Brand representatives have made it easy for a brand to send products to and get a bigger audience to view it and hopefully ledd to a sale, but it’s not guaranteed.

If you are a small business and thinking about using a brand rep for your business then keep these tips in mind:

  1. Make sure that the rep has some kind of brand loyalty towards you, and they are not just in it for the free stuff.
  2. Set a budget. The products that you are sending them costs money out of your pocket, set an amount that you can write off as marketing budget and remain in that budget.
  3. A huge following does not mean an active following. View their Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/YouTUBE feeds to see if the followers are engaging on the posts. Doing your homework is vital.
  4. Don’t be taken aback when a rep does not want your products. If it does not fit into their style or audience it won’t bring you any business.
  5. Be upfront with your expectations to avoid disappointment.
  6. Instagram is a good platform to have a brand rep as it is completely visual, make sure you have your social media accounts set up so that they can tag you and direct traffic to your accounts.
  7. Brand reps probably have other jobs too, cool products do not feed their kids or pay for flat-lay accessories, so keep that in mind when you set timelines.
  8. Always credit your rep when using their photo’s.

If you are a brand rep, here’s some important information to remember from a brand’s side:

  1. Remember that the person behind the product needs to feed their kids and pay school fees, buy something from them every now and then to show some support. Brands are going to stop using you if their products are only used to redo your rooms or restock your wardrobes, for free.
  2. Don’t be nasty to other brands or reps – brands do not want to be associated with online feuds.
  3. Develop and keep your own identity. You want to stay on trend but don’t follow the crowd too much.
  4. Don’t just accept all products because you feel you have to, you create and market your own skill and look too, you want it to be exclusive.
  5. If you are not going to use a product offer to return it or host a giveaway.

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If you are thinking of becoming a brand representative, read more about the tricks of the trade, from Bean’s mom, here.

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One thought on “What brand reps mean for South African small businesses

  • Teri-Jane

    Loved this post! Skylar does brand rep work, but I prefer to call it collaborations, as I see the art in it more than plain selling of other goods. I have made so many new friends with the moms I work with, they are no longer businesses. If done properly it can be done well.

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