At the inaugural BigFive Summit in Cape Town, our Paul Plant interviewed Trudon (Pty) Ltd CEO Lunga Siyo about the challenges of running a legacy media business is a fast-changing digital environment.
Johannesburg-based Trudon publishers printed Yellow Pages as well as online, voice, and mobile YP directories, plus digital services, including websites, presence management, digital marketing campaigns, and more.
Paul and Lunga covered a lot of ground int he 20+ minute interview, including the evolution in what small businesses need from solutions providers, and why Trudon made the decision to double down on the Yellow Pages brand.
Become a Platform for SMEs
The interview began with Paul asking Lunga to project how he sees the SME space in South African evolving over the next 12 to 18 months.
His response identified a growing need to help SMEs with every stage of their businesses, not just the customer acquisition piece that media companies traditionally occupy.
“A lot of SMEs need help to start a business,” Lunga said, noting the incredible amount of red tape required to launch a business in South Africa.
Lunga cited needs that include proving help with business registry, for example, or sourcing goods and services, finding solutions providers, raising capital, handling cash management, and so on. These are all clear needs that could be delivered via some type of platform service.
Lunga cited Xero as a good example of a company pursuing this strategy and noted that two speakers preceding him on the BigFive programme, Yoco’s Katlego Maphai and OCFO’s Louw Barnardt, articulated similar visions.
As these needs evolve, companies with direct SME relationships, like Trudon, will be well-positioned to deliver these services, or at least help make the connection between SMEs and solutions providers.
Later in the interview, Lunga also noted that there is a great opportunity for solutions providers to help small businesses reduce the amount of time they spend doing administrative tasks.
“SMEs do not get into business to do admin,” Lunga said.
Is Yellow the Answer?
Paul asked Lunga to explain Trudon’s decision, roughly a year ago, to use Yello Pages as Trudon’s public-facing brand.
Given the evolution of the local digital market away from traditional print media like newspapers and Yellow Pages, the decision would appear to be risky. Lunga argues that it all comes down to trust.
In the video excerpt from the interview, Lunga talks about the value of the Yellow Pages brand.
“There is a lot of equity in the brand itself,” Lunga explained. “And small businesses like to buy from people they trust. Also, consumers, over the years have learned that the business they find in the Yellow Pages book is the real deal.”
Lunga acknowledged the challenge Trudon faces in evolving the brand to make it appeal to younger populations while also retaining its trusted status with more established consumers and businesses.