Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business marketing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Gee Ranasinha, CEO of KEXINO, located in Strasbourg, France.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are an award-winning marketing agency serving startups and small businesses in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. Over the past 15 years, we've helped over 350 businesses in 20 countries grow their financial bottom line by designing and deploying innovative and effective marketing programs.
Our clients range from 3-person startups to established small businesses of 150 people or more. We work with a wide range of client industries from B2B SaaS to manufacturing, engineering, fintech, healthcare, agriculture, health & beauty, and sports.
Tell us about yourself
For seven years, I was Worldwide Director of Marketing for a software company, serving blue-chip clients such as Time Inc., IKEA, Nestlé, Airbus, and Marvel. Whenever I invited marketing agencies to pitch for our business, I was amazed at how none of them would take any fiduciary responsibility for the marketing plans they proposed.
All of the agencies I saw were more interested in the tactical execution – web design, advertising, events, and so on. No one was asking me about the business result on which the marketing plan needed to deliver. That seemed crazy to me. It dawned on me that there were a ton of start-ups and small businesses out there needing help with marketing from a business perspective – designing and managing a marketing plan generating qualified leads to ultimately produce a tangible commercial difference to their business. I couldn’t find a marketing agency that took that kind of approach – so back in 2008, we started our own. Having founded three startups myself, I understand at first the trials and tribulations experienced by small business owners. I've been where you are.
One of the keys to our success is our “no-BS” approach to everything we do for the client. We don’t hide behind complex jargon, acronyms, or doublespeak. Collectively our team has over 80 years of real-world experience in entrepreneurship, business development, marketing, sales, and customer service. We use that knowledge to consult, recommend, and implement proven processes, systems, and tactics that move the needle in terms of revenue generation.
We don't waste our time – and our client's money – with unproven, flavor-of-the-month notions that just add to the noise rather than contribute to the signal. It's not marketing if it doesn't generate sales. Startups and small businesses rarely have the luxury of “trying something out” on the off-chance it’ll work. We take their marketing budget and design a plan that’s both sustainable for the business and delivers tangible results. Working within a pre-defined marketing budget takes the pressure off everyone concerned. Our clients know in advance how much everything's going to cost, so there are no surprises when they receive their monthly invoices.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Taking a start-up from $0 in revenue to the point where they were acquired for $170m - all within just three years.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
We turn down about 70% of the client inquiries we receive. There are three main reasons for this:
- It's not a real business. Running a fulfillment side hustle from your spare bedroom when you get home from your day job isn't having a business. That's a hobby.
- The client thinks they know what marketing is and just wants us to carry out their wishes. Firstly we're not a 'content factory' - if that's what you want, there are plenty of people who can do that for you. Secondly, if you're such an expert in marketing, why are you contacting us? :)
- The client simply doesn't understand business. They don't understand the difference between revenue and profit and don't know basic business concepts such as Profit & Loss, EBITDA, or accruals. If we're partnering with a client on growing their business, they need to know what they're doing.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Technology has made it easier than ever to compete against the big guns. It's leveled the playing field in communications, distribution, engagement, measurement, design, and application. What technology can’t do for you, however, is all the stuff in between. Technology can’t show how (and why) you’re different and why your customers should be buying from you rather than the place down the street (or the other side of the globe).
- Marketing, at its most fundamental, isn’t about technology or process. It's not about analytics, SEO, QR codes, chatbots, social media, VR, AI, machine learning, or any of that nonsense. Marketing isn’t about being clever or winning awards. It’s about appealing to basic human emotions.
- The reason why 90% of digital advertising yields such poor results is that 90% of digital advertising is focused on the tech set-up. What you should be focused on is spending time on the concept, creation, and production of effective advertising creative. When speaking with a marketing agency, if the first thing they talk about is tactics - blogs, ads, social media, SEO, etc. - my advice is to run very fast in the opposite direction!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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