Eunice Bomela owns a fleet of waste management trucks in Cape Town. Aubrey Jonsson shoots photos around the world. Jessica Padayachee is a baker with a penchant for milk tart. And Mbali Nene designs and makes glorious high fashion clothing.
What these business owners have in common is that they’re all entrepreneurs and clients of XtraSpace, the national provider of flexible space solutions. And they all feature in a new campaign, Celebrating Entrepreneurs, born out of an XtraSpace marketing brainstorm looking into effective ways to promote the business.
“We realised the real people who use our storage and office spaces were our most powerful marketing tool,” says the chief operating officer, Colleen Mansour. “Nothing beats real stories, real heroes. Stories of humble beginnings, of the drive to make dreams a reality, of challenges faced and resolved. The stories of ourentrepreneurs echoed our own story, which is the story of a start-up that has innovated and expanded and is turning 10 this year.”
Steven Frankel, strategic marketing consultant for XtraSpace, says the company asked site managers to identify individuals they thought had an interesting story to tell. “We became fascinated with the stories of people who stored their goods with us or rented co-work or serviced office spaces. People from all walks of life, doing and storing all types of things. Who were they and what were their stories? How was our business empowering them and assisting them?”
Real people, real stories
Self-storage as a sector might be about buildings and commercial property and logistics but, says Frankel, it’s also about people. “We wanted to tell the story about how we helped them and their businesses to grow. This naturally flowed from our own story and where we see our business going,” he says.
Four entrepreneurs are featured in the first leg of the campaign:
Eunice Bomela started Mhonko’s Waste Management in Cape Town. She keeps her fleet of vehicles in XtraSpace’s Airport Industria facilities.
Photographer Aubrey Jonsson uses XtraSpace Express, the courier company, to transport his equipment for shoots around the country.
Jessica Padayachee, of Patisserie Jessica, not only has an office in a FlexiOffice co-work space in Johannesburg, but has also become a supplier to the company by running the coffee shops in its co-work and serviced office spaces.
Mbali Nene, fashion designer for Limba, runs her online shop out of FlexiOffice’s Morningside Manor facility and has space to store her creations before shipping.
The Celebrating Entrepreneurs storytelling campaign was initially rolled out via the company website, but will be used across all its digital properties as well as in print.
A different approach to advertising
Frankel says the Celebrating Entrepreneurs approach is different from XtraSpace’s initial campaigns that were designed to grow the brand and educate consumers about the company’s self-storage facilities, FlexiOffice and XtraSpace Express courier services.
“That aspect will always be there, especially when we introduce new products, but this campaign is more an example of what can and is being achieved by using XtraSpace to enable yourself and your company to grow,” he says.
Mansour agrees. “The entrepreneurs are in the foreground of this campaign. So for us it is a soft sell; we are positioned as ‘enablers’ for our clients. If they do well and build sustainable businesses, it bodes well for us in the long term,” she says.
The big picture, Mansour says, is that entrepreneurship is the key to reversing the low growth cycle that South Africa finds itself in.
“We feel very strongly that these stories should be told and given the exposure they rightly deserve,” she says. “We feel that this is the right thing to do, it’s very close to our hearts. These are real South African stories about real people and we are privileged to be able to walk a path with them, even if it is just a short one.”
Behind the scenes: XtraSpace is a national provider of flexible space solutions. Its businesses include XtraSpace Self-Storage, FlexiOffice, Co-working, XtraSpace Express, SpaceBox valet storage, Big Box containers and Multibox Self-Storage in Mauritius.
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