COVID-19 has changed businesses and entrepreneurs are now implementing ways like going entirely online
Digital businesses and studios primarily transform the marketing and advertising departments of their clients, hence the need for these business owners to keep themselves and their clients connected is extremely crucial. A global crisis like COVID-19 has brought this community together like never before and no wonder we are witnessing these owners galvanize their strategic approaches.
Little wonder they haven’t stayed idle and have come up with interesting ways to engage their client and keep their growth rates intact. These strategies will help you deliver more marketing and advertising value to your digital business clients.
One of INC’s 5000 award winner Kobe Digital did it and so can other digital business owners.
How this Founder Has Successfully Transformed Their Business During COVID-19
Earlier this week I had a chance to sit down for a Zoom call with Arya Bina, Founder and CEO of Kobe Digital a digital marketing agency headquartered in Los Angeles, CA. The unique thing was that he was in Miami in the process of hiring staff to set up their new field-office there. I had a few minutes to catch up with him to discuss how COVID-19 has affected their industry, and what their business is doing to adapt.
Before we jump into how you are adapting to the new normal, could you tell us a bit about your business and why you started it?
I founded Kobe Digital in 2016 with one goal in mind, to create a better marketing agency. As a serial entrepreneur my focus has always been on continually optimizing industries. My previous venture was in the travel space where we used a price-comparison technology to compare and find the best travel prices online for our customers. During that time we worked with many different marketing agencies, and they always fell short of expectations. It was these experiences that made me think “there has to be a better way”, and hence why Kobe Digital was born.
How were things going before COVID?
We had a traditional office environment with a large office space in LA and it was common for us to have many people in the office at any time (although we embraced a liberal WFH policy as early as 2018). We were experiencing strong growth, in fact earlier this year our company was recognized as the 55th fastest growing company in California by INC magazine!
How did COVID effect things?
Initially I think there was a lot of fear in the market. No one knew what to expect, and this fear created a lot of knee-jerk reactions. But for most, the fear subsided and clarity was gained. We were able to maintain a majority of our clients through conscious efforts of providing active efforts to help our clients adapt. This usually involved creating ecommerce sites for brick-and-mortar clients and helping clients who were used to using the internet to drive store traffic to shift their focus to working solely online. In the end I think that COVID was simply a catalyst that accelerated the direction that our society was heading.
How did COVID effect your business specifically?
I think that COVID acted as a catalyst for us as well. In March of 2020 became a fully WFH company, luckily we already had the infrastructure already set up. During this time, we realized that employee productivity and satisfaction had gone up. This led to the decision that we would stay remote. This also created a new opportunity for us, we began hiring talented people not just in LA, but all around America and even Canada too! It was as if the doors swung wide open for us, like a gust of wind to fan the fires of our growth.
What does this look like for you operationally?
Now we have a team distributed across America and growing rapidly. We’ve expanded from our LA office to now include 4 locations. I’m currently opening up our 5th location here in Miami, and plan to have a location in Denver soon as we’ve just made a key hire there. We are able now to operate in all time zones, and we stay connected using the best technologies, and each location runs as a hub for our agency servicing the clients in its own local community. It is a hyper-localized, node-based national growth strategy.
How do you manage such a distributed team?
It definitely adds a layer of complexity to HR and team & culture building. We’ve brought on an HR manager who is skilled at managing remote teams and instituted a lot of additional communication channels for our team. It’s really important to keep an open line of communication with your staff, some may be introverts and really love working at home alone, others may be extroverted and crave some more social involvement. It’s about balancing the needs of each individual. We’ve created things like employee newsletters, team social zoom gatherings, and things of this nature to help keep people engaged.
What growth goals do you have in 2021?
Our revenue growth goal is 300%, and we are aiming to open up 10 field offices across North America by the end of the year.
What advice do you have for any business struggling to adapt to the “new normal”?
In general, I recommend a “man from mars” approach to problem solving. Instead of waiting to see what others do, pretend that you are a Martian and have just arrived here and know nothing about anything. With that mindset now view the problems your business is facing, and try to come up with the simplest solutions to those problems without any preconceived ideas, you’ll be surprised what your mind can come up with when you remove the limitations. More specifically when it comes to COVID-19, talk to your employees and your customers, get their feedback and see what issues they’re facing, and then see what you can do. In the end, this is in fact the new normal, businesses need to accept the permanence of the changes we are seeing in society and act accordingly.