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This is the second part of the interview I gave to Filina Georgiadou, a student of Business Administration in a local university.
During the interview we talked about entrepreneurship, business, education and lots of other interesting topics (check out part 1 here).
Ready to continue? Let’s kick it!
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What is the philosophy that characterizes your business? What values do you want to pass on to your employees/associates/partners?
First of all, the philosophy that we have is characterized by attention to detail. This is represented in every aspect of our business. For example, a visitor on our website will find a neat navigational structure which will allow him to find quickly what he wants. At the same time, when we build promotional campaigns for our clients, we make sure that they are flawless. And that is the philosophy that we want to be adopted from everyone that works with us. If the leaders pay attention to detail, this is going to pass on to the rest of the team too.
Another important part of our philosophy and values systems, is that of continuous growth. We always strive to improve our company and ourselves, and to constantly grow our business, something that is reflected by the increasing revenue we achieve every year.
What is the client payment policy that you follow (payments in advance, credit, discounts etc.)?
In general, the model that we have adopted is that we provide a time period of 30 days during which the client can perform the payment for the services we have provided (NET-30). This depends though, and is applicable mainly to our most valuable clients that we have a long term relationship with.
Sometime, for new clients, we might ask the payment in advance, and only after the payment has been performed, we go on to implement the relevant campaign. So we might use both of these approaches, depending on who the client is.
Regarding discounts, we do use them, but only for long term clients of us who usually book pricier campaigns. This is a way to strengthen our business relationship and make it last longer. If they win, we win too, and vice versa.
What is the payment policy that you follow with your suppliers?
Now, since we are an online business as I said, we do not deal with the “traditional” type of supplier who delivers physical products.
“Suppliers” in the broader sense of the term are for us the service providers who we are utilizing, for example for the web hosting and for the e-mail marketing software we are using.
For those, we typically follow the terms they have set, which mostly is paying on a monthly basis for the service they deliver.
What are the short term goals of your business? Do you have plans for the next five years? If yes, what are those?
Yes we have, but I cannot get into much detail about those, I can’t disclose the numbers. On a high level, what we have set as goals for the next 1 to 3 years is to achieve revenue growth and also to increase our market share.
Has your business been impacted by the detrimental economic situation of our country?
Our business has been impacted but in an indirect way.
First of all, all our clients are outside the country, so 100% of our revenue is from abroad. We do not have any transactions with companies within the country. On that respect, we have not been impacted negatively at all, on the contrary.
However, the main way that we have been affected by the running crisis is that our tax and social contributions have gone through the roof, so that is definitely a price we have had to pay.
What are the strong points of your business?
One of our strongest point, I think, is that we are very flexible and nimble. For example, we have competitors in the market who are larger than us (in terms of traffic and revenue), but in comparison to them, we are able to respond much faster to the changes in the ecosystem. Additionally, we can experiment with new techniques and try new things in a rapid way, something that these larger entities are not able to do. So, flexibility and agility are certainly some of our strongest points.
Another strong aspect of our team is the great technical knowledge we have accumulated in the area of Internet Marketing. My partner and I have studied a lot that field, so we are very effective in that, something that works as a catalyst for more traffic and thus more revenue.
Another strong point is that, except for the business acumen we had to develop, we also both have a strong technical background. This helps on one hand to better understand our end users, i.e. the programmers, and keep up with the latest programming trends, and on the other hand, to quickly implement changes in our infrastructure and our marketing campaigns to assess whether a strategy works or not. Having the ability to rapidly test new things is critically important.
Do you have weaknesses as a business? What kind of measures have you taken to address those?
One issue that I think we need to better tackle is that, on a large degree, the people that are running our websites and our campaigns depend on us. What I mean is that there are specific nuances and details that only us, the founders, are familiar with and we have not yet transferred that knowledge to our team.
In essence, we need to remove ourselves from the operations and empower other people to take over any responsibilities that we still have. For this reason, we are setting up process and performing the necessary training so that we can be freed from the lower level operations and have the time to focus more on the higher level strategy.
In what way do you deliver your products/services in the market? What are your distribution channels and how did you choose them?
Some of our services are delivered after direct communication with our clients. They either send us an “inbound request” or we perform an “outbound outreach” in order to establish a connection and then agree to a deal.
Another channel is by leveraging third party platforms which allow us to promote multiple companies on our website. Those platforms are essentially brokers who bring together advertisers and publishers like us.
A third way is to explore Joint Ventures with other companies in the industry. In that case, our partners promote our products to their users, and we promote their products to our fan base. It’s a win-win situation that allows both of us to grow.
What are the main characteristics that make your products competitive? How is the product pricing performed?
Every campaign we set up and every service we deliver to our clients, we strive to make it flawless and as effective as possible. This means that our clients, by utilizing the services we offer to them, are able to grow their revenue and increase their awareness in the marketplace. All in all, we strive to deliver our services in an impeccable way.
Additionally, we often try to educate our clients and offer them advice and suggestions on the way they should set up their campaigns. We do this because sometimes clients lack the awareness of the end users and are not structuring their promotions in an optimal manner.
If we just blindly perform the task the way they want, the specific campaign might not yield the expected results, and that would be a losing proposition for everyone. Thus, we try to understand their reasoning, and after processing their requirements, we kindly point to the correct direction so that they are able to get the highest return on their investment.
At the same time, since we are a small company with only small overhead, we are able to offer these services with very competitive prices. Combining all the above, you may see that our services are very competitive, and that is why we are growing tremendously year over year.
As a company, do you follow any specific Public Relationship (PR) practices and/or Communication tactics?
We do not have a specific PR approach. However, as our websites are growing and our brands are becoming more valuable and trustworthy, the companies in our industry start realizing that they will be able to gain access to our audience via our web properties. That being the case, it is much easier for us to communicate our offers and appear more reliable to those companies. We can then either reach out to them or reply to inbound requests which come more often as we are becoming more popular. All in all, we are using an indirect way of PR by strengthening the brands of our web properties.
In what ways are promotions given in your company? How can employees rise in the company ladder?
Since we are a small and lean team, there is no hierarchical system in our company, so the traditional “corporate ladder” system does not apply.
What we are trying to do is that, through the education and training we give our employees, we strive to help them improve their skills that are related to our industry and at the same time to become more productive and more efficient as knowledge workers in general.
In other words, we are helping them to pick up and develop skills that are going to be useful and valuable to them, even if they eventually leave our company. Those skills will be easily leveraged in a new position too.
In what ways do you attract new people in your workforce? Which is the most effective way in your opinion?
What we have seen is that, the basic characteristics that have the largest impact on attracting and retaining new talent are the following:
Firstly, each employee that is going to work for us (or for anybody, actually) wants to be certain that he or she is going to get paid on time. This is really crucial, especially in our country which is facing a stark crisis.
Secondly, the employee needs to be confident that our business is going to be around the next years and is not going to shut down. He needs to be sure that he is not going to be employed just for a while because we might go out of business, but that there is a long term future and that our business will not cease existing, but is going to grow and flourish.
For those two reasons, when we are talking with prospective employees, we stress that they are going to be paid on time. Additionally, we describe our history as a business and we highlight the fact that we are constantly grow and get better and stronger. As a result, these employees are going to grow with us, as we continue to evolve.
Another important factor is one that revolves around the subject matter of the work. We have to make sure that the person that is going to work for us is going to get involved with interesting projects. That is, he or she is not going to work on the same stuff every day.
Our industry is very interesting but at the same time, very demanding too. We are always on the cutting edge of things, so any employee is going to be involved in interesting and challenging projects at all times.
Finally, we need to make clear that we are going to help any employee grow on a personal level. That includes working more efficiently and more effectively, being more productive. Sometimes we go as far as to recommend specific books and other resources that will be helpful and impactful on the individual.
That’s all folks. I hope you enjoyed it. Stay tuned for more interviews and interesting posts!