Marketing is too important to be left to the distributors only
Interview with Rolandas Sereika, CMO and Co-Founder of Lithuanian startup Deeper and speaker at Balticbest conference.
You have said that traditional agencies are not prepared to work with startups. What is the main problem? What can agencies do better to meet the needs of startups?
Traditional agencies are seeking large, established corporations with clear growth and proven success. Of course, that’s a very good business approach. It enables them to grow with less risk and easier planning, resulting in happier shareholders. Startups, however, are a totally different breed. Our nature is to work creatively on a very limited budget. We must continuously experiment, be innovative in our approach and constantly seek opportunities for growth.
What are the main benefits/problems with doing marketing in-house (and not using the agency)?
There is no one in the world that knows your customer better than you, that is the biggest advantage of having an in-house team. Every time we’ve had to work with an outside agency, we’ve had to spend numerous hours educating the agencies’ employees about our product, our market, our competitors, etc. Obviously, this is very time consuming and sometimes, after a few months, we decide on a different strategy because markets are shifting…then, we’re back to square one again, spending more time and more money educating agency personnel. Having an in-house team automatically solves this problem. Moreover, information flow within the team is fast and efficient, everyone knows the facts, changes and issues within seconds. This gives us additional opportunity to quickly react and adapt to change. You can simply stop a campaign with a push of a bottom or shift messaging at a moment’s notice.
It’s true that agencies are always on top of market trends and technologies, BUT, in all of these agencies, work humans, not robots. These same “super agency humans” can be a part of your in-house team if you create a challenging environment for them. I’ve had many team members who came from agencies. They’ve said that after having worked in agencies for a long time, they were tired of always being assigned new projects. They never felt their continued value nor results of their labor. Working in-house has made them feel empowered.
Another advantage of having an in-house team is emotion. We all “feel the pain” together when the company is struggling. We feel “ecstatic” when the company is successful and doing well. Agencies, on the other hand, don’t feel your emotion. They are worried about their own budgets, their profits, their employees and their own emotions. For us, we’re in this together, for better or worse.
Whether working with an agency or in-house team, your biggest asset is people, humans. You need to play your cards right if you want them to be the best they can be.
What are your tips/suggestions to other companies: how to do marketing on a low budget?
Start from the basics and JUST DO IT. From time to time when I attend an event or meet with other marketers, I hear the same questions: How are you so successful? What do you do differently? My answer is always the same, we DO SOMETHING. You can always get a result when you take action.
I’m not going to lie, we’ve failed quite a bit. But when we find a recipe to success, we simply multiply it and continue further.