Monday, November 23, 2015

Manderina Promotions interview at StartUs Magazine Europe/ Interviste tek revista Europiane per startups

In today’s interview we spoke to Alma Gerxhani from Manderina Promotions, an Albanian PR & Digital Marketing agency ready to get their story told. Learn more!

Describe Manderina Promotions in 50 words or less.Manderina Promotions, founded in 2014, is a Digital Marketing and PR Agency startup inTirana, Albania. We offer digital services to SMEs in Tirana aiming to build a solid presence through all channels for them. We combine experience in journalism and PR with deep knowledge in digital marketing to create unique and engaging content and distribute it in the right channels.
Why did you decide to pursue your own dreams rather than someone else’s?

Since my graduation I have been working for different companies, in numerous positions: teacher, journalist, online editor. After my MSC in ePublishing in London, I came to work as a communication specialist at Tirana Airport and the last job I had was as a PR consultant for the Council of Ministers in Albania. Even though they were quite high responsibility roles, I felt like I had boundaries in applying my knowledge.

To follow your own dream is hard, but it is so motivating and makes you feel complete, so that you really want to try. You have no boundaries in creativity and imagination, but then you need to be focused and have managerial skills to test and reshape your idea so that you can make money out of your expertise. I teamed up with Eva Kushova, an experienced journalist and media adviser, who is exceptional in creating content, offline and online. We complement each other, so this was a great factor pushing me towards entrepreneurship.

7 years from now: How did your startup change the world?

Well, that’s a big word to say. At Manderina Promotions we can’t pretend to change the world, but the life of some people, through helping their businesses to succeed in a new area of technology.

Nowadays brand reputation and client relations online are a two-way-communication: there are endless examples of big companies, squeezing or even failing, because of not adapting their business model to new technologies. We haveshifted now from traditional marketing like leaflets and flyers to online presence, website and social media advertising. Businesses all over the world caught by surprise are quickly adapting these major changes, while the majority of Albanian businesses lag behind. We will help SMEs not only be there, but succeed and turn their online channels into productive ones.

In what ways do you measure your success and how do you make sure you don’t lose track?

There are two ways: the number of the new clients, and the satisfaction of existing ones. We monitor our performance daily and we report to our clients monthly. We use analytics and insights to monitor our clients’ presence online and our work results. We try to stay focused on what we are doing best. It’s been only one year, and people are starting to know our name. Due to our online and offline image we are getting more requests for cooperations from companies of different sizes.

Describe your typical working day from coming to the office to leaving it.
They are never the same! But in general I start very early. First thing is checking and replying to urgent emails and then I sit down with my partner to discuss each client’s plan for the day and divide tasks. She takes care of catching the latest news and interactions we have going on in social media channels and create unique engaging content for each of them. Besides several websites, we maintain dozens of social media channels for several clients in different industries. Meanwhile I go through my to do list and I do some website update / coding / design. We use a web based program for organizing our work. It is very useful and productive, especially when I prepare my to-do list the day before.

After a quick lunch I do some reading / searching for ideas / possible clients / projects we can apply. I leave work at 4.30 or 5.00 pm to go home and spend the afternoon with my two children and husband. In the evening I do more reading (e.g. professional articles), attend online webinars or courses to keep up to date with a restless industry.

Already pivoted? Did customers use the service like you imagined it in the beginning?

We have a few clients already, they are happy with our service, but it took us time and energy to approach them and convince them of the value of our services and the difference in quality of our service compared to others. The process of approaching new clients is the most challenging for a new business. We are going slowly, but secure. We are constantly listening to our clients, adapting and reshaping our services in order to better meet their needs.

SMEs are operating in an unstable market and some of them are in on edge of surviving. So our work is to make them aware that if they do not invest in differentiating themselves from the competition today, their sales will go down and down. Is necessary for them to allocate a small budget on image building so that they can succeed tomorrow. While big companies, that already have budget are established, SMEs need a specialized and ROI service, a niche, and that is where we want to enter the game. We have data to prove that our clients who trusted our service have achieved a better image and sales in the long run. Furthermore, we have offered training to our client’s team so that the results are measurable and we succeed in our intervention.

Bootstrapped or financed: What fuels your startup now and what will in the future?
I was working as marketing manager at Albania Holidays, an incoming tour agency. At that time I realized that there was a greater need for professional marketing services, and I could do the same work for more businesses. When I left, we agreed to outsource all the work I was doing there as marketing manager, to Manderina Promotions making this transition smooth. A year from later, we cover basic costs now, are self-sustainable, but need to grow and open new projects and possibly hire 1-2 juniors. These are good signals of growth.

With ferocious competition and a booming trend to build new companies: How do you make sure you don’t get lost in the shuffle?

That is the most difficult part, because everybody pretends to know the digital world. On LinkedIn there are 30 companies or individuals in Albania who pretend to do media and marketing, and almost 70% of them have a non-working website. On the other hand businesses tend to outsource services to people in their network not making a proper search for professionals, and they usually judge only by the price.

Another problem for businesses in Albania is that they want to have quick earnings today, and don’t look for a long-term solution. The typical situation is that businesses have a website but don’t use it because they don’t know what to do with it. Even big companies have dormant accounts on Twitter, Linkedin or other channels but don’t have a proper strategy to unlock their potential. Our challenge is to first educate SMEs about the need for these services and then take this to another level, with the final aim to increase visibility and make online channels profitable. On the one hand we are active in professional groups and trying to establish ourselves as an authority in the field by publishing professional articles to our blog and by sharing in LinkedIn professional groups and taking part in discussions.

What do you look for in team members?
Be professional and focused, but especially I want my team to love their work and never stop learning, reading and invest in their professional growth. Above all I ask them to be trustful.

Why would a talent join your team?

Our policy is to offer everybody the possibility to grow inside our company, be dynamic and flexible. We really want to work as a team and contribute equally to the success of the company. We tend not to have distance between the owner and employee.

What was your most memorable moment so far?When we won the Protik Startup Accelerator in Albania. Manderina Promotions was one of the three companies that was awarded this prize. We profited from some high level consultancy in law and finance, as well as networking possibilities and exposure. We also were featured in the media for our business idea.

What advice would you give fellow founders for their startup?Have the courage to go there and test yourself. If you succeed, you will feel just great and accomplished. If you fail you can go back and work for others anytime, as you surely are a well-educated and qualified person, since you feel to start something on your own.

Anything you would like to add?Thank you very much for this interview. It is great to find other startups in this network. Reading their interviews makes us think we are not alone:-)

First Published at StartUs Magazine :

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Good news: Zero taxes for startups in Albania

A good news comes for all startups and small businesses in Albania, whose annual turnover is between 0 – 5.000.000 Albanian lek, (about 36 000 euro). They will pay no taxes at all from 1 January 2016. The Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama in a press conference said: “All businesses that have an annual turnover no more than 5 000 000 lek, in a fiscal year, will not pay any tax”. This will be a great help for small business to bust their activities and to hire people. The great measure of Albanian Government will offer a favorable environment for small enterprises and startups in Albania to make them competitive in the region, while creating new jobs.
Minister of Economic Development, Tourism, Trade and Entrepreneurship Arben Ahmetaj said in a interview that about 83 000 business will profit for the new measure for tax free.

Jo taksa për start-ups dhe biznesin e vogel

Një lajm i mirë vjen për gjithë bizneset e reja (start-up) dhe bizneset e vogla me xhiro vjetore nga 0 deri në 5 milione lekë (te reja). Taksat për këto biznese qe nga 1 janari i 2016 do jenë zero. Kryeministri i vendit z Edi Rama në një konferencë për shtyp u shpreh se gjithë bizneset me xhiro vjetore jo më shumë se 5 milionë lekë, nuk do paguajnë asnjë taksë. Kjo do jetë një ndihmë e madhe për bizneset e vogla dhe startup që të rrisin aktivitetet e tyre dhe të punësojnë njerëz.

Kjo masë do ofrojë një mjedis të favorshëm për bizneset e vogla në Shqipëri duke i bërë ata konkurues në rajon, ndërsa krijojnë dhe vende të reja pune.

Ministri i Zhvillimit Ekonomik, Turizmit, tregtisë dhe sipërmarrjes z. Arben Ahmetaj deklaroi në një intervistë se nga kjo masë do të përfitojë 83 mijë biznese.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Manderina Promotions në Forumin "Smart Balkans"

Manderina Promotions mori pjesë sot në takimet ‘Biznes me Biznes’ (B2B) në forumin “Smart Balkans” , të zhvilluar nga Konfindustria Shqiptare, në Hotel Tirana International. Manderina Promotions prezantoi në një kënd të veçantë shërbimet e saj "dixhital marketing" që synojnë të ndihmojnë bizneset për të rritur fitimet e tyre. Ky forum mblodhi së bashku kompani të ndryshme, kryesisht italiane dhe shqiptare në fushën e teknologjisë dhe zhvillimit të bisnesit të zgjuar dhe efiçent. Manderina Promotions u përzgjodh si pjesëmarrëse në këtë forum nga AKTI (Agjencia e Kërkimit, Teknologjisë dhe Inovacionit). Është e rëndësishme që bizneset shqiptare të adoptojnë zhvillimet teknologjike dhe inftrastukturën dixhitale, pasi ato nuk janë më luks, por domosdoshmëri që rritin direkt biznesin dhe fitimet e tyre.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

E-mail marketing- is it effective?/Marketingun me email- a eshte efektiv?

Email marketing from business in Tirana- Are they effective?

We are all witnessing our inbox full of irrelevant emails with content we have never subscribed. We are spammed also by offers and email marketing campaigns from Albanian businesses. It looks like many businesses in Tirana have chosen to pay for email marketing. But is it effective? I came across some data of an email marketing campaign, that I paid.

The provider claims to send the email to 100,000 email addressees from which they succeed to sent in 50,000 as reported in their delivery report and only 2-4 % people open it. This is only a quantity result, but they are not targeted and thus not interested in the product.

 So a business pay 100 Euro. What does a business get in return? 

Exposure? A bit, if the email has a very memorable content. 

What about requests/email? Not even a single email. It could be OK to a certain point for the exposure of a new restaurant/bar. But I don't think it works for professional services or B2B business. As digital marketers we would suggest other marketing channels, more effective and more targeted. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin offer very good marketing opportunities with a very good targeting options according to interests, age, location. Results are much better, because the message will be displayed to the relevant people and it creates a loyal audience afterward for other messages. And this is the advantage of these platforms compared to email marketing, where there is no commitment and nothing remains.

Sa efektive jane fushatat e marketingut me email ne Shqiperi

Jemi te gjithe deshmitare qe kutia jone postare mbushet me email-a që nuk na interesojne dhe per te cilat nuk jemi abonuar. Na dergohen oferta te ndryshme elektronike edhe nga bizneset shqiptare. Duket sikur shume biznese ne Tirane po e perqafojne kete forme marketingu. Po a eshte efektiv? Po ju jap një shembull te rezultatit qe jep 'email marketing' te cilin e kam konstatuar personalisht.

 Ofruesi te cilin e kam paguar për këtë shërbim, reklamon se e dergon ne 100,000 adresa. Nga këto ne raportin final rezulton te jete derguar tek pothuaj gjysma, pra 50,000 dhe 2-4 % e personave e hapin e-mailin dhe shohin reklamën e paguar. Por kjo eshte vetem rezultat sasior, se ata perdorues nuk jane realisht te interesuar per produktin. Per nje sherbim te tille nje biznes paguan rreth 100 Euro.  Por cfare merr nje biznes ne kembim?

Ekspozim? Në fakt jo dhe aq, vetëm nese emaili ka nje permbajtje apo nje dizajn qe godet.

Po kerkesa/email nga kompanitë apo individët e interesuar për shërbimin tim? Pothuaj asnje. Ky shërbim mund te jete ok deri ne njefare pike per një biznes te ri te nje natyre si bar/restorant/ butik etj, ku ndërthuren interesa qe konvergjojne me nje audience te gjere. Por nuk mendoj se eshte i pershtatshem per nje biznes profesional, ose B2B (business to business). Si profesionistë në digital marketing, për bizneset serioze dhe më profesionale, do ju sugjeronim te tjera kanale marketingu, më te targetuara dhe me efektive. Mediat sociale si Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin ofrojne mundesi shume te mira marketingu me targetim shume te sakte, sipas interesave, moshes, vendodhjes etj. Dhe rezultatet sigurisht qe jane me te larta, sepse reklama u shfaqet personave qe kane interes dhe keta njerez kthehen ne ndjekes dhe audience fikse( loyal) per te tjera mesazhe marketingu ne vazhim. Dhe ky eshte avantazhi tjeter i ketyre plaftormave ne ndryshim nga email marketing, ku nuk ka angazhim dhe nuk mbetet asgje.