by MarkLives (@marklives) This time we feature insight into the brief, creative idea, production challenges and results of the current “#JustStart” campaign for Yoco by the in-house Yoco team and Bioscope Films.

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Client: Yoco
Ad agency: In-house
Title: #JustStart

Information supplied by Yoco.


The core marketing goal with this campaign is to entrench Yoco as a powerful enabler of small business in South Africa. We hope to increase brand awareness within our target market by 10% over the campaign period.

#JustStart is about unlocking and inspiring those with a song but no voice. Any idea is worth exploring. Anyone can start a business.

Yoco has found empty space with its authentic, real stories of South African small business. No one else has a customer base with such a range and diversity of quintessentially South African small business as Yoco. Celebrating this range and diversity shows how much Yoco believes in open commerce and that right of admission is deserved, no matter who you are or what business you are in.

Creative summary

Yoco’s engagement with innovators, entrepreneurs and startups is both broad and deep. Through the company’s quarterly Small Business Pulse survey, the company receives regular updates, feedback, and insight into the SA small business landscape. It was based on this feedback that Yoco devised a multifaceted campaign to encourage, motivate, and call to action SA’s entrepreneurs to take the leap and start their own business — with insight, learnings and motivation from Yoco’s merchant base and a campaign featuring its own customers and their real small businesses.

The Small Business Pulse is a quarterly survey conducted by Yoco, which scores the SA small business ecosystem on a scale of -100 to +100. The Pulse Score is an easy way to measure optimism/pessimism, concerns, struggles, and successes, and compare one quarter to the next, using both qualitative and quantitate metrics. It also provides Yoco with the means to do a deep dive into specific areas of interest, such as technology in small businesses and, most recently, the inhibitors to starting a business.

Campaign elements

  • MOTIVATE: A 90-second lead brand film and 3 x 45s individual customer films
  • INSPIRE: In-depth content on each of the three customers featured in the brand film to get to know the stories of struggle and triumph behind the businesses
  • LEARN: The Art of Getting Started whitepaper: practical advice from people who have done it
  • ACT: Free online six-part course for people wanting to take the first step; three “Just Start” workshops in Polokwane, Bloemfontein and Pretoria where people can get started in a day; and a “Business in a Box” competition where the prize is R20 000 worth of hardware and software to get you started.

Campaign period

23 May–31 July (two months)


The entire project — from conceptualisation, creative elements, film and ad content, graphic design, white paper and course creation — was executed in-house by Yoco’s small marketing and design team. The team collaborated with Bioscope Films on video production, art direction, set creation and post production for the lead film and three customer stories.

The process began simply, with the question: What stops good ideas from becoming small businesses?

The team took the question to its extensive merchant base, and the same answers kept coming back again and again. And, when asked for what advice small business owners would give, the answer was ubiquitous: “Just start,” This was the seed that evolved into the fully integrated campaign.

The biggest challenge for a small startup such as Yoco is always budget. The entire budget of this campaign is less than R2m, which has meant the constant need for a challenger brand mindset; big ambitions but limited resources requires bold thinking to close the gap. The lack of budget also meant the shoot was done over just two days at free locations across Johannesburg and Pretoria, with no weather insurance — a nerve-wracking thing when it rained on and off for the two-day period. Bioscope Films was an amazing partner, allowing us to shoot at locations in their homes, and we also shot at the houses of our customers whom we featured in the film. No professional actors — real customers, real businesses, real doubts and fears.

The team also started internally, motivating staff to get behind the campaign. The merchants involved, some of whom are quite influential, were also asked to share and talk about their experiences as entrepreneurs. This was largely the strategy behind the campaign, as Matt Brownell, Yoco head of brand marketing, says, “As a startup ourselves, we needed to think innovatively about this and find a way to reach people with a shoestring budget.”


  • YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram digital marketing
  • 77 digital billboards across the country
  • Get Started Guide and Art Of Getting Started re-marketing
  • Community (42 000 existing small business customers) reach outs and sharing
  • Partnership leverage: Xero, Heavy Chef, Over App, Lifecheq, Google My Business, Digify Africa, Govchain, Visa, Mastercard


  • Estimated social reach of 3.7m to date, with limited spend
  • #JustStart organically trended on Twitter countrywide for almost five hours on launch day, peaking at no. 2.
  • Total video views of > 300 000 in just over a week
  • Greater than 50% increase in lead generation over the same period previous month
  • More than 300 people have either download the advice or completed our Get Started guide and are on the way to taking the first step to starting their business


In-house team: Yoco
Production company: Bioscope Films


MarkLives logo#Campaigns is the new MarkLives column featuring insight into the brief, creative idea, production challenges and results of South African communication campaigns, both ongoing and recent. Have a campaign worthy of being featured in #Campaigns? Submit a short motivation to 2mark and we may well be in touch. Please include links to campaign material, when it ran/is running and why you believe it should be featured.

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