How to do marketing in 2021, interview with the founder of Lead me agency

How did it all begin?

I have never been interested in marketing, I have always looked into business. Even when I, little Artyom, was asked about who I wanted to be, I said - a director, following the example of my father. I didn't know what it meant, but somewhere in grade 8 I realized that it was called business.

The path of becoming began ambiguously, I tried many different things: I helped my father on projects, worked as both a loader and a kit maker. Though after I worked in the position “like everyone else”, in the bank, I realized that I didn’t like it all. Moreover, as a child, I dreamed of becoming a director or a businessman. Then I decided that I had to start something of my own.

Why did you decide to connect your life with marketing?

Actually, it turned out spontaneously. I heard about classical marketing at the university. Then I found out that Internet marketing also exists when I watched a couple of BM on setting up advertising in Yandex and Google. I was impressed by this, with burning eyes I came to my father in the company and said: “We need to launch advertising”. Then I took it upon myself, because my father, like many entrepreneurs, did not understand anything about this.

At the Bauhaus office

This is how my journey began - at night I learned something related to websites, contextual advertising, landing pages. I realized that there is a lot of stuff in Internet marketing, and it is impossible to cover everything, so I focused on what I saw at BM - selling sites and contextual advertising.

But I realized that the volumes were huge, I could not cope with it and decided to look for contractors. Thanks to my father for seeing my aspirations and helping me in terms of the budget, since I did not have my own money. I went to a specialist, Yegor, with whom we later founded the agency. We made the first website for the father's company - Bauhaus. I found a PPC specialist who, according to my idea, was supposed to set everything up perfectly, and we would make money. This, unfortunately, did not work out.

Why didn’t it work, as you think?

We were constructing site for a very long period of time, and when started to launch advertising, the principles by which we were going to act did not work anymore, they became outdated. Actually, we simply did not know that there is no ideal formula for working in marketing, and everything here works through hypothesis testing.

Then we spent about $ 100 on advertising and $ 700 on the site itself. However, for 1-2 years, it paid for itself 10 times more. That is, the site worked without advertising - it was simply found and ordered. The check there is big, so even with several orders it was possible to recoup everything and earn money.

First website for Bauhaus

At that moment, I realized that this wasn’t what I wanted to do at all. It wasn't about business at all. And not even about marketing. My hands weren’t untied, I was working within the framework of other people's resources (father), and, roughly speaking, I wasted them. I didn't know what to do next, but I decided to leave. I had to do my own thing. But there were no ideas.

How did you move on?

I received an offer from the website developer, partner in the future - Egor. When we worked on the site for Bauhaus, there was a lot of technical work in terms of marketing and development - prototypes, technical specifications, etc. I understood this myself, studied everything in detail. He saw in me a vein, a spark, that I can communicate well. Against this background, we shook hands with each other: he will create websites, and I will find clients.

We started, agreed to share the fee 50/50. The first client was brought to us by the PPC specialist, with whom we worked on my father's project, it was the project “Happy Time” Development Center. The client was satisfied, we earned $ 300, $ 150 each. It didn't look like a business yet, but it was a job with a real salary, which before that I was paid purely symbolically.

We set the following task: to make the highest quality product, even if it costs little money.

To grow in terms of quality of work is quickly, but very slowly in terms of business indicators.
We did not have any ideology. The only thing - it came then from Yegor, a partner - was to do it very efficiently. Therefore, we did everything much longer, were very worn out. I reworked it a little, and we set ourselves the following task - to make the highest quality product, even if it costs little money. We wanted to build a good portfolio for ourselves and then, with its help, sell at a high price to big clients. Spoiler alert: it worked, and we have been following this path ever since.

How did you do the projects?

We did each project well, we gave our best 110%. This was our main driver, because We did not launch any advertising. Everyone came for our work. Each project left a link to our site. People crossed over, clapped their hands, contacted us, and were ready to buy. All clients are only recommendations, 90 percent for sure, the remaining 10 are our links on sites. Basically, everyone came from there, everything worked.
The strategy was correct at that time, I think. But it was wrong that we both did everything only together.
After my “speeches” that we cannot cover up everything ourselves, we found people - it was a pure freelance. We brought up two or three good designers. Their check grew 3-4 times more on our eyes. Plus, we invested in every project, Yegor looked out for each detail. At that time, I stopped working only with clients, I made prototypes. Everything that connected with relations with customers, from start to finish point, was carried out by me, from the conclusion of the contract to the delivery of the project. I realized that while presenting, I absorb something from Egor, immerse myself in each project, just like a real strategic marketer.

Was there any kind of training?

There was no training, there were only projects, and we learned from them, may our clients forgive us. However, we never did mediocre, on the contrary, we twisted a million ideas and hypotheses, since the level of responsibility was very high in front of every client, even the smallest. No training will answer all the questions, real practice is very important. The ads were not set up by us and it really helped, we hired specialists, so we could completely be devoted to the development of sites. And we did it really well, beautiful, with the right meanings. It's not even a shame to come back now and show. In this regard, we were great.

There was no training, there were only projects, and we learned from them, may our clients forgive us. If not for real budgets and clients, then no course would have given us such an experience that now helps us to achieve results for each of the customers.

Then started doing other services. We understood that in order to make high-quality semantic and visual packaging, we need high-quality photos and videos. The first project we took on then was the Kugoo, Ninebot, MI, Kuaike scooters. We were a little bit confused, we didn't understand this. But for each scooter we made photos and videos in the studio, which were brought to us from Moscow. We worked comprehensively, tracked the results in metrics. Although the project did not fully work, but many people bought from them and believed that they were really TOP-1 because of our visual packaging. They even bought wholesale, believed that they were an official distributor. All this allowed them to earn money. Despite the shortcomings, the owners still ordered a package of meanings from us and the development of a website for 3 more brands of scooters.

Making photo content for Kuaike scooters

Exactly on this project I realized that the main thing for the client is the result (profit from all our beautiful and thoughtful visual packaging and advertising). And then we began to think in terms of results, expanded the range of what we can offer to customers, raised the average check. And the sites were bought for $ 1000, because they gave a result and the investment paid off.

Then I realized a main thing: we can visually pack cool, take photos, videos, but this is not the end result. The client needs something further.

We began to take over the launch of advertising and slightly changed the vector of development. It was not interesting just to create websites at that time, the competition was great. We started doing full-fledged lead generation, attracting customers from the Internet. Before Lead Me, Egor was selling leads in a team with his brother, so he had an experience. But we didn’t have time to do everything with our own hands, we found good contractors. They specially looked for Minskers, they even came to our office. They did it all, there were good results, but, of course, not all of them. Back then we didn’t know what should be finalized, not everything works out the first time.

When did you decide to grow?

On the second year, we came to a problem: there are more customers, we need to grow. We could earn some money, but we wanted a business. It didn't even look like this. There was no team, we were alone. It was kind of handicraft, I might say.
I decided firmly that I needed to do the business the way I originally wanted. The partner was inspired, because he devoted a lot of time to work, burned out constantly, it was hard for him, for me, in principle. We fought this in different ways, but the results and the projects helped the most.

When you see a cool project that you made yourself, like those scooters, you are motivated to continue working. Even one’s of the founders of the EQriver company, grandmother went to the site, praised it very much, said that it was beautiful, she had never seen such a thing.

When did you first start thinking about the team?

On only projects you can't take it out, we got tired anyway, we had to get out of the operating system. I did not understand any business processes, we worked purely in marketing for 2 or 3 years, I was not a businessman at all. We started trying to hire a team. At our level of work or for the money that we offered, people simply could not be found. It was decided to take those who really like our approach and train them. Unfortunately, we didn’t know how to teach either. But we tried. And we got our first designer. Before that, we worked only with freelancers, which were very expensive.

It was difficult, especially since we wanted to grow, develop, we also hired a layout designer. But he did not work with us in the office, because our office was a small room, 2 tables. When clients came, they were a little embarrassed, but our quality of work and the cost for it were very adequate, so not everyone frowned.

Our first office

Then even a very serious project on the Belarusian market - Managym - entered. Yuri Anushkin, the founder, and I, in this office, together on the blackboard, described the whole story. This was our first normal check. He came to us, by the way, also for work, on someone's advice. The site was great, it was a challenge for us. We passed it perfectly, packed it visually, did a lot of things, the client was satisfied. Yuri himself said that it bore fruit, even though we were not engaged in advertising at that time.

Everything related to development, on which we stumbled: no one wanted to sit in our office, it was very small, 17 squares. No daylight - there was a window, but it was covered by a staircase. The partner asked to move, but I said - no, you need to direct resources in a different direction. And now I think that, from a business point of view, it was the right decision. We started building a team, buying courses, investing in expensive freelancers. We took the second person in the staff, the developer. It was expensive, we paid him about $ 700 a month, then it even went up to $ 1000. It was hard to manage all of them, although there were few of them, and all this was ineffective, from a business point of view.

What was the turning point in your business?

It was already the second year, it was necessary to decide something. We acted as follows - we made several projects, accumulated resources. We had a portfolio, again, raw. We couldn't pack it and ourselves. It was a big problem, but we still had a higher check than many. We sold an online store for $ 5,000, websites - at least $ 700-$ 800. We have already begun to make some kind of commercial, inner packaging. After that, the cost increased even more: sites for $ 1700 - $ 2000, etc. All clients are only from recommendations, 90 percent for sure, the remaining 10 are our links on sites. In fact, everyone came from there, everything worked.

At one point, large agencies even began to contact us. They wanted not to order our services, but to cooperate, to do something for their customers. But as soon as they heard the check, they fell off. In terms of the price on the Belarusian market, we were really one of the most expensive ones, but it was clear and deliberate. Our prime cost is different, and the quality of work is completely different. Therefore, we stand out and will continue to move along this path.

Here we make an important decision: resources have accumulated, let's move to a new office. We are still working there, by the way. The most important thing then was that there was light, a lot of light. We found such an office, there is really a lot of light - a window on the whole wall. We were happy, we moved, but the joy was short-lived, since the rent was 2-3 times more expensive. The number of people increased, we separated ways with some designers, developers, it was not profitable for us then.

New office at Karl Liebknecht, 66

We were groping for the vector of development. We did good visual packaging, but didn’t want to go into design, because it was not interesting in our market. We needed a new challenge and other customers, we started looking at the markets of other countries, in particular, at neighboring Russia.

Highlight the main errors you encountered then

How many mistakes we have made, I cannot even list now. But I will highlight some:
1. We did not motivate in any way, the staff worked just for a salary. But, in our defense, I will say that we knew how to inspire people. Not so much, but we knew how, using our works and examples.
2. Wasted resources irrationally in some developers, etc.
3. Were not engaged in internal packaging and development, including advertising. We did work for clients all the time. This is an honest but wrong approach. Somewhere there had to be a “stop” or delegation of our tasks to other freelancers for the development of the company, so that they would be engaged in promotion. Then we started to do it, more and more resources were used up. Due to the inflexibly built system, there were not enough people, therefore, we mainly relied on freelancers. There were breakdowns, a lot of refunds. Well, not so much, there are 3-4 returns in the entire history. Why did they return? We didn’t fully implement the results, KPI didn’t exist yet back then, according to which everyone is working now, including us. And not only because of this, just the site might not seem to be liked. We played only under the terms of the client, this is wrong. Sometimes, I would even say often, clients also lose because of this. If the contractor was approached and paid, you need to trust him. This is my conclusion after such an error.

We played only under the terms of the client, this is wrong. Sometimes, I would even say often, clients also lose because of this, since they came to a specialist and trusted him ...

4. Another important point is that our approach to what we do was wrong. It has not yet fully formed, but in the past we took on everything. We spread, we were not completely professionals in some ways, were not clear and understandable. We did everything at once, scattering and chasing some profit. Now we have 3 highlighted directions:

  • lead generation - clients from the Internet to business;
  • semantic and visual packaging of products and services;
  • complex technical projects (corporate websites, online stores, platforms, mobile applications and software).

5. The mistake was that we did not know how to delegate even once. Didn’t study any literature, didn’t take a single course, that is, we are completely self-taught. Because of this, a lot of things did not pass, we lost a lot. Especially the time you can't get back. We could grow much faster if we did it more. I am still struggling with this, it is not enough to the end.

6. Another important point is that we did not know how to work correctly with HR-processes. We could not cooperate with a very large number of people, spent a lot of time on it, resources, money. The saddest thing is that we lost clients because of this. Some of them, for example AutoGroup, grew up with us from the cradle. But we did not have time to reach them. It was a pain, but we parted on good terms. I am sure that we will cooperate someday. But the fact is that the team did not have time to develop and meet the goals of our clients.

How would you describe Lead Me then and now?

In fact, we did a lot of things and improved in each of the projects. We had a path of pure practitioners. Leaked budgets, refunds, questions to us that we honestly didn't know the answer to. We were not educated in our own product. Marketing is changing very quickly. Even now we cannot keep up with it, I can feel it. And then we did not devote time to this at all. We were in a drawdown, didn’t do as well as we could, didn’t provide the client with a large number of services, that is why, we lost them, didn’t give results. But we had our own path and it gave a lot.

Marketing takes a long time. Normal, expensive, which we try to sell.

Our mission now responds to this: we have stopped cooperating on a one-time basis, we are rebuilding the whole story to work for at least 1-2 years with each client. Since the marketing takes a long time. Any of its tools should be used with a clear understanding of your own resources + the end result that you want to get. Then you need to look for those who can answer all your questions, tell you how to reach this result and how many resources will be needed. Previously, I conveyed this to clients, now our managers, whom we are training now, are engaged in this, they don’t work on developing sniffing skills, but on being expert business consultants who disassemble the client's business by the bones, help form a goal, and only after that, they offer 1-2 options for solutions for his resources. For many customers, such as AutoGroup, I worked as a “hired specialist”, participated in planning meetings, talked to them. Now the task is to educate the same people who will speak with the client in his language, work in his company as on their own project. We have done and are doing everything as for ourselves, so we have a great portfolio. Not bad for sure.

Today Lead Mi is more than 20 people, more than 10 different services that cover 70 percent of trend marketing. And we have a lot of experience - 150 cases, this is not a word of mouth, 3 areas in which we did a good job.

  • Lead generation - about 70 cases with good results, but not always. And this is correct, because we can show clients that there are bad ones - those gave the experience that we worked out, therefore it is expensive and costly.
  • About 50 cases of visual and semantic packaging - we created brands, released packaging, increased brand value using visuals and meanings. We sold “no-name” headphones twice as expensive than Xiaomi, and most importantly, they were actually sold. We have come a very serious way in the visual design, this is a great merit of Yegor's partner, it was him, he is brilliant in this regard. And not only in the visual, but also in the meanings, because a lot of them were laid down correctly.
  • The third is technical implementation. Thanks to today's team, we can do this, back then we had problems with this. Today we are implementing 2 large startups that will work throughout Europe and the CIS, we have an experience in creating E-Commerce projects, online stores, corporate large sites.

Why won't there be problems now?

Now there is a technical director who had 2 startups and a team of 4 developers from the best development companies in the country before, so we are very competitive in this sphere. Yes, we do not have many works, but the functionality that we can provide today is one of the best and most modern on the market, and the price pleasantly surprises our customers. The quality of our work, due to the semantic and visual presentation, is very high. We do each project not as ordinary developers, but as marketers who think about how the project will bring users to our client and his investors = clients = money

Our difference and a unique selling proposition, in business terms, is that we put the marketing core everywhere. Any project, even a purely technical one, we always start with it. This can be a prototype, a brand and its promotion cycle, an advertising strategy for a small company or small tasks. And the main observative of marketing is to make a profit, because marketing also captures sales, think about it if they tell you wrong.

“Lead Me” logo

Therefore, Lead Me today is a progressive team that is going to actively grow further and take its share of the market. The plans are quite ambitious - we will definitely go into the IT sphere, create our own products that will help not only the entire team, but also people around the world.

Sales and marketing go very close together. The salesperson can articulate what you need, and the marketer further communicates and broadcasts it.

We are facing an important mission and goal - the next 2 years, and in general, in principle, to work only as a partner. And we understand the level of all responsibility, as well as the number of tasks. I have already said that Lead Me today is a full cycle of marketing services that will help you to reach a new level and increase your profits.

To be specific, now the actual problem of many businesses is the inability to process many applications with high quality, that’s why they do not turn into customers = profit. Therefore, in order to meet our mission and work with the client for 1-2 years as a partner, to give real profit, which can then be reinvested in marketing, we have added many new services, as well as introduced a full cycle of business process automation and subsequent processing of applications for some of the clients. Since sales and marketing go very close to each other. I would call it one whole thing. The salesperson can articulate what you need, and the marketer further communicates and broadcasts it.

Lead Me team today

Therefore, today we are the team that can close all tasks regarding promotion, even help to work with your clients, so that you have a result and we can act as a partner in your project, and not just as a good contractor.
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