Welcome to Marketing Lego Thought Leader Interview. Today we will have a word with Raminta Keršulyte, founder and marketing strategist of WFMA, about her journey of creating an agency that helps organisations to improve their branding and marketing strategies. We will also talk branding, omnichannel marketing, content planning and generation process, etc.
Hello everyone, and welcome to another marketing Lego Thought Leader interview. My name is Hershey and I’m the director of business alliances of two brilliant marketing SaaS tools RankWatch and Web Signals. And today’s special guest is a highly experienced marketing strategist, founder of a leading full service marketing agency, Wfma Ramada. A big welcome to you and a pleasure hosting you today.
It’s a real pleasure. Please tell us about your journey, like, how were you like when you were a child and how you made your way up and founded your own marketing agency.
So there’s quite a lot of educational background in my family. So, yeah, from the sort of teenage years, I always knew that I’m not going to stay in Lithuania necessarily. I always wanted to sort of go into wider waters and explore the things that you couldn’t necessarily explore in Lithuania at the time. So getting into fashion for me was quite interesting because when I was sort of looking at where to study, I’ve got a few things in mind, which was, I really like photography, but I was really bad at physics, so I couldn’t do it because to study photography in Lithuania, at least you need a physics grade. I was really into human psychology, but I knew I didn’t want to be a psychologist or a therapist. And I just kind of pieced it together that fashion sounds like a good field for me to be in. And at the time, there wasn’t anything like that in Lithuania, so the fashion industry was barely existent. You can imagine after the book, like, the Soviet Union, where the whole fashion was kind of scraped out of the picture. There was one type of coat that everyone could buy in the shop and that’s what everyone was wearing, type of thing.
The industry was just starting to sort of stick back up and it wasn’t sort of a normal thing for anyone to study. If you say that, oh, I’m going to study fashion, everyone assumes right away that you’re going to be a designer. And I was like, no, I want to get into the business side of fashion. So not designing things, I was never good at drawing or anything like that, but more like the business side of it. So I graduated from high school and packed up my luggage and went to Scotland to study fashion marketing and retailing. At the time, I thought I was going to study in Edinburgh because here you at what? The university that I went to, the main campus, is in Edinburgh. Only when I arrived did I realize that my campus is actually in the middle of nowhere, on the Scottish border somewhere an hour away from the main campus, let’s say. So I spent two and a half years there. I studied fashion marketing and retailing. And after two and a half years, I really loved what I was studying and the studies were really good, but it didn’t make sense to me to be studying fashion marketing in the middle of nowhere.
I was like, I need to apply my knowledge. I need to go into the industry and start working. So that’s how I got to London. I stopped my studies in Scotland and arrived in London to sort of look to get my foot in the door in the fashion industry. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do back then. As I said, for me, not having the background and fashion, that not being a thing, really. I didn’t really know what the different types of work are, or even what’s available. So I kind of got my foot in the door and started working in fashion retail, mainly for luxury brands, and then got into fashion PR. I was working for one of the biggest fashion PR agencies in London and throughout my gap year that I was taking out of Uni. And that’s how I sort of got my foot in the door. I started doing PR. I worked in retail quadra throughout my studies as well. I got back into uni. I graduated with a fashion PR degree and continued interning and working in PR for both agencies and luxury brands. But soon I realized that celebrity life is just not interesting.
It’s just very hard for me to be good at my job as a PR because I just really don’t have the interest in the celebrity lifestyle or anything like that. I can never remember anyone’s name and I just realized that it wasn’t a good path for me. So I sort of reverted back into marketing, which was what I studied as well, and started working in one of my favourite brands at the time, all saints, where I was doing kind of a hybrid role of retail management, merchandising and digital marketing. And there I sort of figured that digital marketing seems like a good field for me to get into. It doesn’t necessarily require being in a certain place. It’s all digital. I really like that aspect. It’s all fast paced. There’s always things to learn. You can basically never be bored. So from then on, I continued working in digital marketing, sort of going from broader digital marketing roles, looking after agencies, making sure that businesses deliver. So I was mainly contracting different fashion companies in London. Quite like the contract mentality, where you come in and you get the job done and you go somewhere else.
It’s kind of exciting and interesting for me as well. So I did that for quite a while, and then I got a contract at Post, which was a startup back in the day, and it was growing quickly. So I got the role there as a web content and email content manager. And after a few months, they’re delivering to the brand’s expectations. They offered me a long term position as an international ecommerce manager. The brand was experiencing massive growth back then. We got some really good investment, and that was a really fun time to sort of see what we can possibly do with that investment. So one of the things that we did was we upped the marketing budget for the year by 300%. So we piloted maybe five pilots to just sort of see how far we can push it. And that was really just, I just, I think, realized how powerful marketing is when done right with the right team in place, and how much you can actually achieve with that. And I spent a good year and a half at Toast. I really enjoyed my journey there. And then I was approached by another fashion brand who saw our success with toast at the time, and they invited me to be the head of digital there.
Okay, so that’s sort of the breaking point. That was a breaking point for me because I did step down from toast, and initially I thought that I would take up the offer that that brand was giving to me, because it was a very attractive offer, I have to say. But it just didn’t feel right. Something was just not there. And I was already working with some clients, sort of on the side and having the sort of interactions. And working at Toast, I was always a four day week. So I think in terms of the remote type of working, we were caught ahead of the curve. I would say. We were working for four days, sometimes remotely. So I kind of saw that there can be flexibility in it, and we still can deliver great results. And I just decided to take my step and not take another position, but actually start doing something of my own. And that’s when I decided to go full time with the WFMA Agency. So just before COVID very interesting time to start, I finished working for Toast and that’s when I started with WSMA full time, while the agency has been running since 2017, but it was more of a sort of part time on the side basis.
And how many people do you have now working full time for you?
It’s actually a brilliant strategy, to be honest. One good thing that COVID taught us, remote working is something which is very much doable. You can do it very efficiently, specifically for the digital marketing sector, that has always been the case, but working from Office, even with Digital Agency, used to be the mainframe thing before COVID but now it’s common. That’s brilliant. Please tell us a bit more about all the service offerings that the agency has right now and let’s talk a bit more about some of the core expertise as well.
You’re one of the OGs of the internet then.
Got you. And since you’re providing a boutique solution. I’m sure the pricing also is something which is tailor made. You look into your customers goal and then whatever resources you would need to utilize and then cover the pricing which is again unique for each customer. Right?
Got you. And who is an ideal fit for your agency and who isn’t any specific criteria that you have.
It basically talks about the fact that marketing turned into this very numbers driven game in the last decade or so and the fact that brands are not paying as much attention to the more creative advertising and more brand messaging is actually damaging the brand in the long term. So whenever we work with clients, we try to include both the short term term goals that are generally more numbers driven but also remember the long term perspective and make sure that we’re doing certain brand activity to support that and to grow brand equity.
Makes sense. Very wise actually. And to be honest, you rightly said a lot of companies actually ignore the branding aspect. They look into more or less their short term goals and mainly like a short duration sales cycle. All of those things, like whatever can boost revenue quickly. Yeah, but that’s so true. Basically focusing and investing onto your branding should be the core and then these short term goals should be around it.
Not the centre of it to be honest.
Let’s talk about your onboarding process as well. What processes do you have in place for your client onboarding and those 1st 30 days look like for your clients and any system that you use, any tools that you use for your client management part and also your team management part.
So it’s always a bit of a very research driven process in the beginning and then we have workshops with the client to sort of align and make sure that we’re taking the correct route to what their expectations are and to make sure that we deliver to those goals. And then in terms of management, I guess just the usual project management tools. I’m a big fan of Excel sheets. Love a good excel sheet. That’s probably a merchandiser in me talking. Yeah, just I guess the standard automated project boards and Excel sheets. Really, I’m not a fan of having it too big of a stack of tech to work with. I think there’s a lot of conversation about people just bringing new and new and new tools. But at the end of the day, even if you don’t use that many tools, you’ve got the core ones. I think you can still do great in terms of marketing and everything else.
Yeah. If it is solving the purpose, you don’t have to leverage any tool. Excel is still very much functional, way too useful. Makes sense.
Since you’ve been working with multiple channels. Right. Anything when you come up with a strategy for your clients, there’ll be multiple touch points. And one of the struggles that I’ve seen marketers face is maintaining a good synergy between multiple channels altogether. Because you’re a branding person as well, you understand the need for consistency across your marketing messages. How do you go about a few tips, please, to maintain that good synergy between multiple times?
It’s just using your old content that works for you, adding some new content where you want to drive, maybe a certain change of the attitude or just like new topics into the brand. And it’s quite easy to plan it that way, I think.
I think even a lot of times what happens is a brand might have a lot of different departments working on each one of the channels and there’s not proper brand guidelines and communication between those. First basically working onto multiple channels. Then there’s a, you know, a lot of mismatch and you can’t enhance the effect, have that cumulative outcome that combined strategy would do for you. So I think that’s, again, one of the struggles. I’m glad you are the agency because you work on all the aspects. So this kind of mismatch won’t happen because you kind of take leadership on each aspect of it. Right. So it’s like free flown information on all employees working on multiple.
Any tips to enhance customer experience with an omnichannel approach altogether?
Any tips to enhance customer experience with an omnichannel approach altogether?
You have to make sure that you’re there when they need you. And that, again, that wherever your customer meets you, that you sound like the same brand and you are about the same things. And perhaps you do change the style of the way that you communicate certain things depending on the platform. But your brand essence should still stay the same. It should still very much be the same brand that everyone knows. Either you’re in store or you’re online or you’re somewhere completely different.
Got you. Any thoughts? And I would love to know your process when it comes to brand evaluation altogether. And because branding is again, like a big part of business that you do right. Which KPIs do you keep track of for measuring the success of the branding aspect altogether that you might be continually reporting to your customers as well, right?
You can’t really measure the brand that well. So sometimes it goes to taking interviews with the customers of the brand and seeing how they perceive the brand and what they think about it. That’s always a good way to evaluate as well. It just sort of depends.
And since you’ve been big and one of the good niches that you enjoy working is email marketing. Right. How exactly do you go about building an excellent sender reputation that helps you kind of reduce the bounces and unsubscribes spam complaints, all of those things? How to basically work in the right direction and scale up.
Or perhaps they bounce and the inboxes change and things like that. And I guess the last point is consistency. As with any marketing as well, you can’t expect that things will just work right away. If you promise to send only once a week, don’t do it five times a week, people will start getting annoyed. So just aligning I guess, what you’re offering to your audience, to what you actually deliver.
And which email marketing tool do you prefer? HubSpot or is there any other?
Got you. And since content generation is a big part, no matter what channel you use, you’ll always leverage good content, right? Like your process when it comes to planning and generating content.
So it’s mainly a B, testing both on the end of email and advertising and on website content as well. Just sort of seeing what it is that is working for the brand and what customers want to see in front of them.
Got you. And any tips to kind of improve your marketing content? Say the KPIs that you’re measuring didn’t report well. How do you go about improving that content?
That’s true. And when it comes to SEO and ecommerce sites, most of your clients will be juggling from Shopify magento. Whatnot? Woocommerce. There’s so many ecommerce platforms out in the market. Which particular platform do you personally prefer when it comes to your SEO implementation? Your site speed, that’s a big thing. Right. And Google has been putting a lot of emphasis for years now over these factors. Right. Which particular platform do you prefer?
I think that’s why for the fact that you can actually tweak around anything on WordPress, the level of flexibility that gives us unparalleled to any other platform out there. I completely agree. And let’s talk because you’ve been in the agency business for a long time, even though we joined full time a few years back, but the existence of the agency has been long. Right. Any success story that you would like to share on how you basically scaled up a business to a good height and few metrics to back that success?
They’re all quite different and very personal for each project. And sometimes it is that big revenue boost, as in the house and home clients success, but sometimes it seems more meaningful than just the sort of revenue numbers. It’s more about growing, for example, for a circle of life for this client, growing that community and keeping that community that used to maybe meet on the dance floor in an event, but still putting them all together in the online space and still sort of nourishing it. I think that’s quite a beautiful goal to achieve as well.
Brilliant. And any horror story and lesson you have learned, I’m sure like in an agency like that, something which is very frequently those instances do happen, mishaps do happen. Anything that you would like to share on those?
That’s just not going to happen. So again, learning to cover those things and the onboarding process was really a key to avoiding those horror stories and selecting the clients that are right for us and we’re right for them as well. So everyone’s just on the same page. Because I think for me, it’s like the nicest projects to work on are the ones that the team is happy with and the client is happy and everyone’s sort of writing off that excitement and it all flows so much better. These are sort of the main things that I would say. Nothing particular, just a couple of our clients, I guess, in the past, but they are avoidable by putting certain processes in place, for sure.
I think we’re coming to an end here and I would like to have a quick, rapid fire with you. Are you ready for that?
Perfect. If you could travel back in time, what period would you like to go to?
And what do you prefer, texting or talking?
Anything new that’s professionally happening in your life?
Perfect. Who inspires you the most.
What’s your last Google search?
And what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever witnessed? Over a zoom call?
Don’t be embarrassed. If you could ask God one question, right? What would it be?
How do I exist?
We don’t have that sense to connect the door. Why? COVID and now the new box. Right. Crazy.
Perfect. Thank you so much. I really enjoyed my time with you and I’m sure the audience appreciated it. Thanks for all the tips, all the lessons. Really appreciate it.