Digital marketing, or digital, is one of the fastest growing areas of business. Even geopolitical upheavals do not reduce interest in this industry. Agencies that are ready to provide a full range of services, or vice versa, very narrow-profile goods, are growing by leaps and bounds, instantly re-profiling, depending on the direction of the sanctions pressure and the depth of the economic crisis. However, a few of them are able to really achieve success when not managers every day bother potential clients by imposing their services, but on the contrary, people themselves look for them, find them and recommend them to others, even in conditions of instability. How to achieve this, we talked with Pavel Molyanovthe creator of the Let’s Make agency, whose clients are such online business giants as Yandex, Alfa-Bank, Tinkoff Bank, Avito, VK, Rehau, and many others. At the end of 2021, the agency entered the top ten in the country in the Runet Rating, and its owner, Pavel, trains and advises content marketing specialists from companies such as VK, TargetHunter, Get-Investor, and others , and “rules” the largest community of commercial authors in Russia, which consists of more than 30,000 people.
“SP”: – Pavel, in the lists of your regular customers there are many “blue chips”, companies with a worldwide reputation. Most digital agencies cannot even dream of such a thing; one or two large customers are already a success. How did you manage to get them?
Everything is simple here: the quality of work, plus the constant maintenance of old connections, and the establishment of new ones – networking as it is. Many large companies turn to us because we were recommended by employees of other large companies. You understand, they are not looking for no-name performers on the stock exchange, they need a 100% guaranteed result. Therefore, they often “spy” on each other, and when they see something really worthwhile, they directly ask: who did it? Word of mouth is still one of the main channels for getting new clients in the agency. But this, of course, is not the only channel.
One of our major clients is Yandex.Zen. They found out about us through our content marketing. We regularly write articles in the media, maintain a blog, social networks, newsletters, publish content in Zen itself – and Zen employees saw us and decided to invite us to the project. Now Zen is being taken over by a new owner, the VK holding, and he, too, is our client.
And the third powerful channel is tenders. Large companies often hold tenders to select a contractor, and many different agencies are invited to them. Therefore, in order to work with large clients and expensive projects, you need to learn how to participate in tenders, correctly fill out all the documentation, and prove that you will cope with the task better than anyone else. And deal with it, of course. Because it is not enough to attract a good client, you need to keep him. Bad contractors are replaced very quickly.
“SP”: – Is it difficult to work with “big” customers? What should be kept in mind, what are the disadvantages?
— The complexity of the work does not depend on the size of the company, but on the tasks and competence of people on the client side. Somewhere tasks are simple, somewhere complex and non-trivial. Somewhere managers on the client side know how to set and accept tasks, but somewhere there is a constant mess and problems with communication.
The only disadvantage of working with large businesses is that they very rarely agree to an advance payment. Often they pay with large deferred payments – and if you do not keep financial records, you can get into a cash gap, because employees need to pay salaries on time, and not in a month. But this is a solvable problem.
SP: How did it all start? Surely, there were some landmark works, after which a stream of large clients opened up?
— A stable stream of large clients was opened not after the appearance of some works in the portfolio, but simply after reaching a certain level of recognition. But I can say that the first “swallows” were even before we came up with the name.
Beeline Business became our first major client. He came when we just launched the agency, and we didn’t even have employees yet. The client turned on the recommendation – they recommended me personally, no one knew about the agency yet. Then, everything happened right in the flow: with one hand I worked on the customer’s project myself, with the other I recruited a team, and gradually delegated tasks to it. The operation was successful: we have been cooperating with Beeline for 4 years already, we have written thousands of texts for them, and a whole team of professionals is working on the project, which we have put together during this time: these are editors, managers, marketers, authors, designers and illustrators, and even more pool of freelancers. But these are not “remote workers” from the street, but carefully selected and trained specialists.
“SP”: – As far as we know, you yourself train your staff and not only. Tell about it.
— Yes, at the moment I am a certified Yandex training expert. Also, in 2020, we helped Yandex create and launch the Advertising Text Authors School — free copywriting courses.
After that, Yandex.Zen helped to create our courses: it gave out grants to students and certified them. The number of our students who have completed our courses is almost 20 thousand. But the main thing, of course, is quality. Our graduates are praised everywhere, this is good news.
“SP”: – You mentioned that the flow started when you established expertise and recognition. How did you manage to develop not only a company brand, but also a personal one?
— Since the creation of the agency, I have been actively involved in PR and content marketing. I regularly write articles for various media, most often on vc.ru. I speak at specialized conferences, talk about copywriting, content marketing, advertising in Zen, promotion in social networks.
Three times he was a speaker at conferences, marathons and seminars “Let’s Write”, “Maed”, “Yagla”, “SPECIA CONF”, spoke at the Yandex.Zen platform for the TargetHunter marketing community. Prepared an exclusive course on advertising together with Tochka Bank.
Recently, I have been invited a lot at the conference to talk about the progress in the new social network TenChat. For example, I recently spoke at the Summit Conference “Organic Methods of Audience Recruitment. Life without targeting, what to do? (websarafan.ru) “Organic methods of recruiting an audience. Life without targeting, what to do? I was one of the first to get a Verification Star in TenChat and was included in the list of the best authors of the network.
I have been blogging since freelancing. After all, like everyone else, I started out as a cheap labor force on the stock exchange. So, the blog also now works for me, and helps to develop a personal brand and an agency brand.
And I also created the largest community of copywriters “Overheard copywriting” – there are already 30,000 people there. Thanks to him, freelancers and editorial staff in companies know me well.
Due to my achievements and experience in the industry, this year I was accepted into the Marketers Guild. And in August, members of the Guild Council studied my cases and certified me in the direction of Marketing Communications.
“SP”: – Among your clients there are IT companies, even such large ones as VK.ru, “Yandex”. Don’t they have their own pool of employees? Why do they choose to contact you?
– Firstly, you can’t be specialized in everything at once, they don’t always have enough tasks to hire staff. Roughly speaking, an employee works 160 hours a month, and the company can have tasks for 50-100 hours. And part of the time the employee will have nothing to do, but he will still have to pay for it. In such cases, it is more profitable to hire an agency and pay only for the work performed.
Secondly, in agencies, employees have a lot of experience, because they have worked on dozens of similar projects. It is far from certain that the company will manage to form the same strong team inside. They understand that some tasks are much better solved by “outsiders”.
Let’s say that at Yandex we work with a specific service, Yandex.Zen. We have worked a lot with advertising in Zen since its inception, we got good results for our clients in it, and therefore actively helped Yandex to popularize it. Since I received the status of a Yandex training expert, I have spoken at conferences, held webinars, and advised representatives of agencies and various companies on launching ads in Zen. So there is our merit in the popularity of advertising in Zen. Now advertising in Zen has turned into Promo Pages in YAN – and we continue to work with this tool and popularize it. These are such communicating vessels: we are to them, they are to us.
“SP”: – How to deal with competition for whales? Surely, it is huge, even for an agency with a name and a Runet award.
— Firstly, we need to constantly develop, increase expertise and experience. A lot of money is paid to those who are able to solve business problems, so it is important to be able to solve them better and better.
Secondly, doing PR, pumping up the brand of the agency and the personal brand of the leader – this helps to win the competition. Articles in the media, public cases, speeches at conferences – all this plays an important role.
Thirdly, it is very important to be able to communicate, hear people, understand their requests. Often, contractors do everything according to the template, without understanding what exactly the clients need. From day one, we tried to be as flexible as possible. Not to launch thoughtless conveyors, but to adapt to the needs of customers, integrate into their process, do exactly what and exactly how they need. And yet, we do not bother anyone with unnecessary bureaucracy and are pleasant in communication. This is also important, people like to work with nice people. And I make sure that everyone in our team can be called that way.