- Player: Andre Steenekamp
- Position: CEO
- Company: 25AM
- What they do: Media planning and buying, campaign management, mobile, programmatic buying, SEO, online reputation management, customer engagement strategy, social media
- Visit: www.25am.net
Challenge: How do you take a business objective and create a solution that has traditionally been a value-add because existing billing models don’t work? First, you need to create a new billing model. Next, you need to convince clients to pay for it.
“Convincing clients to pay for us has been the biggest challenge we’ve faced,” says 25AM’s CEO, Andre Steenekamp.
“Because of the level of experience we bring to the table, we’re expensive. We’re a premium service and we charge accordingly. The problem is that digital has traditionally been a value-add. Big agencies make their money on 5% commissions, which for TV advertising and billboards is huge. There’s a need for digital, but they can tack it on to the larger offering. When you choose to specialise and you’re just digital, that’s not an option, so we needed a completely different model.”
Solution: 25AM’s solution was three-pronged: Highlighting the need, creating a sense of urgency around the solution, and then proving the value of the solution. Here’s how they did it.
Solution 1: Focusing on relationships
“Relationships are key. The deeper and more meaningful the relationship you build with new and existing clients, the better,” says Steenekamp.
“If you can show a company that they have a problem, and respond with a solution, you have their attention. But this requires an understanding of the problem in the first place. We’ve spent a lot of time and resources training our account managers to understand this. First, you need chemistry, so pay attention to your client. To speak the same language, you need to really listen.
If you want 100% buy-in from multiple decision-makers, understand that relationships drive decisions.
“Next, make sure that you always deliver on your promises. Under-promise and over-deliver. Most businesses are built on long-term relationships, so view every interaction as the key to your future growth and sustainability. If you don’t take an interest in your clients’ businesses, you’ll never formulate long-term relationships. Problem-solve together, and show them that you care about their business.”
TOP TIP: If you can you provide a solution, with the greatest point of ease that meets the challenge, adds value to the decision-maker (in 25AM’s case, this is the marketer and CRM team), and ticks the clients’ business objectives boxes, you’ll close the deal.
Solution 2: Show the value
One of 25AM’s core value-adds is Google’s Double Click software, which allows clients to track and target digital consumers and the adverts that they view. It also lets 25AM prove the ROI of the various services it offers.
“It’s not our proprietary software, which means a lot of companies offer it to their clients. The real value isn’t in the software, but in using the information and real-time reporting and assessments that it provides.
“Our challenge is therefore showcasing how our experts can unpack and use the information the software can provide, and how this can make a bottom-line impact for our clients. The problem is that no one wants to reveal how well it works for their business, because it’s a major competitive advantage, which means we need to prove value without relying on case studies of other clients. This means going back to the all-important relationship, understanding each client’s needs, and designing a specific solution.
TOP TIP: There’s a fine line between tracking digital users, understanding how they engage online and what interests them, and ‘stalking’ them on the Internet. Software is just a tool — real value lies in how you use it.
Solution 3: Multiple revenue streams
The specific focus of 25AM’s offering has been ensuring that the business as a whole is never reliant on one revenue stream.
“We have multiple hooks in the water, which is essential for a growing company,” says Steenekamp. “Each of our verticals has a product head who is the senior person on the team and a subject matter expert.
“The link between these verticals is Double Click, which allows us to track everything we do. Our different products work together, which means the divisions share clients and add value to each other and our customers.”
TOP TIP: According to Steenekamp, the secret to multiple revenue streams is to run them as separate verticals with subject matter experts, but ensure there are no silos. Everything needs to function as one unit. The verticals all support each other and pass on business to the most appropriate unit.