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From the blog

Gee Ranasinha of KEXINO Talks About His Journey To Success

Gee Ranasinha

Having a carefully crafted marketing strategy is just as important as having a high-quality product. When you think about it, marketing has, and always will be, an integral part of a company.

But then it makes you wonder: “What are the elements of a great marketing strategy?” or “What makes a marketing company great?”

We were able to reach out to Gee Ranasinha, CEO of Small business marketing agency KEXINO, to get his insights on the matter.

#Awesomesauce

If you want to learn tried and tested digital marketing concepts that will help you skyrocket your business growth to greater heights, then you’re in the right place.

Let’s enjoy this time to learn more about digital marketing from Gee.

1. Were you always a content creator and an entrepreneur? What prompted you to become one?

I’ve been what’s now called a ‘content creator’ for 30 years. In the late 80s I founded an advertising / commercial photographic studio. We mainly did billboards, press ads, fashion, and company annual reports working with large ad agencies such as JWT, McCann Erickson, and DDB. Clients included Ford, Singapore Airlines, and BAT. One time I even directed a TV commercial for Nestlé.

In the mid nineties I got involved with professional digital image capture systems, running workshops and consulting for various manufacturers. It was also the time when I started writing an irreverent (and often scathing) column that was syndicated to a number of industry magazines – something I would end up doing every month for ten years. You could say it was a blog in the days before blogs. You’ll never believe what my column was called: The Gee Spot (!!) Following a 7-year stint as Worldwide Director of Marketing for a European software developer I founded KEXINO, a marketing company for small businesses and start-ups. We began in 2008 and have helped around 150 companies of all sizes better connect with their audiences by developing and executing programs designed to increase awareness, credibility, trust – and sales.

2. How long have you been working in the industry? Can you share one of the craziest challenges that you had to face, and how you dealt with it?

Gee Ranasinha, CEO of Kexino

While I cannot go into too many details, a couple of years ago we were approached by a fledgling tech startup that had VERY aggressive customer acquisition plans. They needed help generating awareness in a very straight-laced, conservative industry in a short space of time – all on a shoestring budget.

We put together some “in your face” guerrilla marketing tactics – a flash mob of burlesque dancers at an industry conference, local graffiti artists painting murals on 12 pick-up trucks that were parked in key locations, and a series of YouTube videos projected on a famous city landmark on the night of a public holiday. There was also the more ‘traditional’ marketing work: value positioning, corporate ID, website, social / digital / search, inbound, and so on. The entire project took just over 4 months. The result was the client securing a 7-figure A round investment funding within 6 months, helping them to grow gross revenues to just short of $17M in their first year!

3. Which people or books have had the most influence on your growth and why?

The usual suspects – prominent marketing thinkers such as Seth Godin, Dan Pink, Simon Sinek, and Brian Solis.

4. What does a typical day in your week look like?

The great thing about my job is that there’s no such thing as a typical day. I’m based in Europe, though 80% of our clients are in North America – so mornings allow me time to get my young son ready for school, go to the gym, read my RSS stream (I have more than 400 blogs I go through every day) and liaise with the KEXINO team. The entire company has been based on a remote working environment from day one – today there are 19 of us in 9 countries – so I practically live in online spaces such as Skype, Trello, Slack, and email.

5. What does KEXINO do?

We help startups and small businesses implement commercially-driven marketing programs. Most marketing companies are great at making ‘pretty pictures,’ but don’t overlay their marketing strategy and tactical execution with needs at a business level. We take the time to understand the inner workings of a client’s organization – cash flow, P&L, sales cycles, customer lifetime value, etc – and run lead generation programs accordingly. If no-one can produce a clearly-defined ROI for a particular marketing initiative, we don’t do it.

6. What pushed you to start the company?

Today customer buying experiences are being set by some of the biggest brands in the world, who are defining expectation levels for everyone else. Regardless of what you’re selling, your business is being judged by the way your customers experience brands such as Apple, Nike, or Zappos. Smaller companies need access to similar levels of expertise, tool sets, and services that big companies take for granted due to the increasing importance of the customer relationship. That’s where we come in.

7. How do you market your products?

Apart from word-of-mouth referrals from clients, our own customer-acquisition efforts are a mix of content marketing, social, direct advertising, and SEO.

8. What 3 things does anyone starting in your industry need to know in order to succeed?

  • That marketing, at it’s most fundamental, isn’t about technology or process. Forget about content, analytics, SEO, iBeacons, chatbots, social media, VR or any of that. At its heart it’s about knowing your audience, and understanding human behavior. It’s about being able to empathize and ‘read’ people: understanding that all of us buy based upon our emotions; rationalizing the purchase later. Good marketing isn’t about being clever, or winning awards. It’s about appealing to basic human emotions.
  • Good business practices are not static. Too many organizations operate under sales principles and marketing techniques that can be traced back to the 60’s. While the technology-supporting sales process have evolved over the years, the traditional sales strategies proffered by “sales gurus” 20 or 30 years ago have not kept pace with market needs. They are not nearly as effective as they once were and, in most cases, they are obsolete. Your prospects and customers have heard it all before – they can smell the antiquated selling strategies. The bottom line is that the most important factor in creating revenue and building brand equity is the customer.
  • Understand where your competition comes from – and that it’s not always from the most obvious direction. Increasingly we seeing established companies – if not entire industries – being upended from the most unexpected sources. The way we buy and listen to music – as well as our expectations of what a cellphone should be – was primarily disrupted by Apple, what was then primarily a computer company. Your hotel isn’t just in competition with Hilton, Marriott, or Best Western. It’s competing with comparison sites and (perhaps most of all) Airbnb – a company that owns no property. Taxis vs Uber, retailers vs Amazon – the list goes on.

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