One of the most popular marketing strategies is focusing. If you are a small company or product, you’ll have more success by not offering a huge range of options and services, but focusing on one thing that you do best. It will also help you to define your audience / potential customer segment and get 100 % of the whole niche rather than 0.1% of the total pie. For example, there are many kinds of toothpaste on the market, but you decide that you will make “the best toothpaste for children” — thus you narrow down your niche and focus only on this segment.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrei Terekhin, the managing director and partner at AGENTE, software development company with strong UX expertise. AGENTE brings a user-centered design approach to mobile and
web app development and delivers tailor-made products and services. Andrei is in charge of strategic development and operational administration here.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Since my childhood, I’ve always been quite a go-getting person. I think the way my parents — and especially my father, an entrepreneur from the early 90s — brought me up, influenced me the most. I always knew that trying,
working, and learning something new is more interesting than doing nothing but hoping for good luck to come your way. I purposefully chose to get a degree in art and design and to be involved in marketing & design activities. I was always fond of art and photography, but at the same time, I liked being involved in business processes and managing projects.
Before starting my software development company, my career path went from a designer to an art director at an international IT company. I have brought various projects (an offline magazine, several online products, etc.) and
startups to the market, with varying degrees of success. In 2009, my partner and I decided to focus on online marketing, web development, and interface design and launched our company AGENTE. Our projects received several international awards at advertising and marketing festivals. For a more dynamic and strategically effective development of my business, I got a master of business (MBA) degree. At the moment, we are transforming our agency into a global software development company with a mixed business model. One of the company’s latest achievements is becoming a member of Belarus Hi-Tech Park.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?
There were probably a lot of stories of that kind, but I wonder what type of story could be of interest to your audience? At the beginning of my career, I was working on a graduation project at the university. My task was to create an interactive presentation, a website, and marketing promotional materials for the State Museum of Architecture. I asked the museum administration to support my project, but there was no funding. Nevertheless, I didn’t give up on the project and completed it at my own expense. I launched a website, bought a domain, and made a small circulation of marketing materials. As a result, my diploma was highly appreciated by the commission, and this
“unofficial” site of the museum took second place in the international website contest.
Every entrepreneur has many exciting stories associated with some super success or super failure. Starting a career and building a company in the CIS market and then transforming it into a global company is an interesting story in itself. It is always closely connected with the challenges that the market dictates. I think that the greatest stories are yet to come.
Can you tell us the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting?
I think there were a lot of mistakes; if you don’t make them, you’ll see no progress. The main thing is to learn from your mistakes and try to understand the reasons why they happened. Years ago, we launched our project
workdone.ru, the analog of 99designs.com in the CIS market. We did not study the market properly and underestimated its size; as a result, the project grew very slowly and had a small market outreach. We lacked the
well-structured marketing strategy for promotion and hoped for organic leads.
Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Sure, before you launch a product, gather as much information as possible, research the state of the target market and its main players, who will be your competitors once you are in.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Any company in our business segment is unique because it inherits the vision of its owners. We provide custom development services, tailor-made for specific business tasks of our customers and partners without using any
templates. With each client, we go through a long research phase in order to immerse ourselves in their business, offer the most effective solution, and implement a custom product, which, in turn, will effectively solve our client’s
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Sure, as I told you before, now we are transforming our business model into a mixed one, meaning that we are providing both software development services and products. Our first own product will be for cryptocurrency traders: cointube.io. We are always working on interesting projects for our clients. For example, currently, we are working on a project in the IoT niche. Our team is developing a system that to manage electrical systems, lighting, air conditioning, etc., monitor them and inform the owners and service suppliers of large offices and residential organizations in Manhattan.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lessons that others can learn from that?
There were several tipping points throughout my entrepreneurial life. Switching from the local markets to the EU and US challenged us to re-target the whole business development strategy. One lesson learned was not to be afraid of thinking out of the box and setting more complex challenges.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
My advice is simple: switch to activities of a completely different nature — sport, sleep, meditation, whatever makes you happier. To avoid a creative burnout, you should do something that inspires you, read books, watch movies, always generate creative ideas and learn to brainstorm various solutions in a short period of time.
How do you define “marketing”? Can you explain what you mean?
Marketing informs the market about your offer or your product and informs you about your future consumers, their preferences and needs. This, of course, allows you to adapt the product or the service as accurately as possible to the target audience.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My father had the most significant influence on shaping me as a person. He instilled in me a sense of purpose, eagerness to work hard and the ability to bring the job to an end. After all, the most important thing is to be able to bring your idea into life, since there are a lot of ideas around, but few people have the courage and perseverance to implement them.
Can you share a few examples of marketing tools or marketing technology that you think can dramatically
empower small business owners?
Google Analytics — a simple but powerful tool to track and analyze your traffic.
Mailtrack — to check email openings and get notifications.
MailChimp — to organize mailing campaigns, track them and get advanced analytics.
Soapbox — to record your screen and share with clients and partners. Grammarly — to check your texts before sending or publishing.
What are your “5 Non Intuitive Marketing Strategies For Small Businesses”?
It is very difficult, or almost impossible, to give some “strategic” advice without a broader context, a market, its condition, a product and its place in it; competitors etc. It seems that you want some tactical advice. Marketing
strategy is closely related to the overall strategy of the company and is a complementary tool to achieve a common goal. As for some short simple tactical marketing tips, I would probably define the following:
● Learn — learn the current market or target market in which you want to expand your influence. There are many tools and approaches for market analysis. This knowledge will help you to understand the market size,
market condition (growing, falling, settled), competition on the market, and many more factors.
● Focus — one of the most popular marketing strategies is focusing. If you are a small company or product, you’ll have more success by not offering a huge range of options and services, but focusing on one thing that you do best. It will also help you to define your audience / potential customer segment and get 100 % of the whole niche rather than 0.1% of the total pie. For example, there are many kinds of toothpaste on the market, but you decide that you will make “the best toothpaste for children” — thus you narrow down your
niche and focus only on this segment.
● Unique selling proposition — study your audience in detail and make an offer that it can’t resist. Consider how you can stand out from the competition. Articulate the pain points of your customers and decide how
you will manage them.
● MVP — identify only the MOST important qualities or properties of a product or service that will allow you to test your hypothesis as quickly as possible and get feedback from the audience. Do not spread yourself too
thin. Sure, it is not easy, when everything seems so important, however, the first thing you need to care about is the ability to put a product on the market in a short period of time (time to market), and then keep improving it based on the feedback from the audience.
● Communication and conveying the message — define how your target audience will learn about your product or service. Think of how and where you will communicate with your target audience. Launch a 360-
degree multichannel marketing campaign and deliver information to your audience through any resources available to you (in terms of time and money). Usually, at this step, you need to create customer journey
maps to understand how users interact with your product or service.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
It will be definitely some environment-related activity that will inspire people to love each other and our planet.
Can you please give us your favorite "Life Lesson Quote"? Can you share how that was relevant to you in
“Live and let live,” and for sure “the sky is the limit.”
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.