Thursday, December 2, 2021

Don’t be afraid of personal branding

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Sabine Elsässer
Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

blazon social media management agency, solely and exclusively aimed at championing startups across the globe from all different sectors

Please introduce yourself and your startup blazon to our readers!

We are Nargis Jafferali and Demos Demetriou, co-founders of blazon. blazon was launched in Feb 2020 and is a social media management agency, solely and exclusively aimed at championing startups. We work with startups across the globe from all different sectors, supporting their journey in whatever way we can, but it starts with helping them get their businesses more exposure across social media.

How did you get the idea of blazon?

Demos and I have worked on numerous startups in our careers, both individually and also in projects together. In our last startup venture, we struggled to find a suitable company to manage our own social media marketing – one that fully understood what was involved in working with a startup in terms of adaptability, flexibility, objectives and expertise. We ended up doing it all successfully ourselves in-house, but through that experience, we identified a significant gap in the market, namely for startups who needed help with their social media.

Why did you decide to start with blazon?

We were actually approached at a startup event in London by another startup working in hospitality, that had seen our social media and were impressed by our efforts, and consequently asked us to manage their social accounts for them. Not only did we jump at the chance, but being the passionate entrepreneurs that we are, we decided to address this obvious opportunity and put together a service offering for other startups going through the same challenges and looking for the same solution.

What is the vision behind blazon?

Interesting enough, it was never the idea of setting up a social media agency in the traditional sense that appealed to us – the market has plenty of those! It was instead the opportunity to offer support to startups from the unique angle of startup founders who had been there themselves before, many many times. The empathy you can pass on to another founder, when you’ve gone through something yourself, is something quite unique, and extremely valuable. Most of our clients tell the same story – they either don’t fully understand social media, or have the time to manage it themselves, or would struggle to pay other agency’s high costs. And therefore, to be able to offer a flexible, low-cost, personal service that’s completely catered to your individual objectives, has been very appealing to the startup founders we talk with every day. Our vision is simple: we strive to champion startups.

How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome?

Our early days establishing blazon in the market were surprisingly (and refreshingly!) quite easy to put together – simply because we kept speaking to more and more founders who shared the same pain points when it came to social media, and they all seemed to welcome the solutions we could provide, with open arms!

Any challenges we faced were more about internal structures within the business:

issues like how to manage the workload, what systems did we need to streamline our process, how could we improve on things? Etc. We knew we had to build a team in order to take this idea to a “well-oiled business machine”, but it was about how best to do that – too early and you risk putting financial pressure on the business, and too late and you risk compromising on quality to your clients. But those challenges were quickly overcome, and over the next 7-8 months, we were able to hire a team of hardworking, creative, passionate people, all remotely based but all highly productive and engaged. We’re especially proud of our efforts to grow an international client base and a strong team, all during a global pandemic!

Who is your target audience?

We exclusively work with startups – but no one client of ours is the same! They come from all across the globe and from a variety of different sectors, and that’s the best part. It means we get to keep expanding our knowledge into different industries and challenge the status quo every day to come up with new ideas and new ways to champion these inspiring startups. If you’re working on something amazing, we always want to hear from you.

It doesn’t matter where you are in your journey – whether it’s simply an idea to talk through and gather some advice, or setting up a specific campaign to get you more exposure, or whether you already have traction and are looking to expand on your marketing strategy – we can help! Our target audience is founders and co-founders – and we love speaking with new ones every day, doing whatever we can to support them.

What is the USP of your startup?

We never refer to ourselves as an agency! Why? Because agencies sounds expensive (and we’re not) and typical agencies (in our experience) tend not to be so reactive and fluid (and we definitely are!). Our USP is the fact that we’ve been there before, in these founders’ shoes. We understand what’s involved in creating a startup and running a business, and all we want to do is help support that. It starts with a solid social media management service that prides itself on creativity, originality and ingenuity – but for us, it’s more than that. It’s about the people involved. Us and our clients. It’s what makes our service so personable and so special. And why so much of our new business comes from personal recommendations.

Can you describe your typical workday?

Not a chance! Our days are never ever the same! This is startup land! Things change all the time – and that’s why we love it so much!! Our days are filled with firstly making sure our team are alright, that no-one has any challenges or issues they need support with. Next is our clients and ensuring we’re reacting to any last-minute changes they need actioning. Making sure posts are out timely and accuracy is maintained throughout everything that’s being worked on. And then come the new ideas – that’s a big part of our day. Brainstorming ways to improve things, make things better, more streamlined, a campaign more successful etc etc.

The rest of the day is spent chatting with founders, new ones, existing ones, discussing their journey, making recommendations and finding new ways in which we can champion their efforts. A typical workday sadly doesn’t exist at blazon, but you can be sure to hear the words “I have an idea!” a couple of times every day…and we can’t get enough of that!

Where do you see yourself and your startup blazon in five years?

For us, it’s always been about championing startups, and always will be. We have a ton of ideas in which we can do more to support them, and we hope to continue on the path of being recognised as the go-to for startups. We look forward to continuing expanding our client base of international startups, and consequently growing our team too. It’s never been about solely chasing the profit margin for us, although that’s an important part of any successful business we are mostly looking forward to forming a startup community, and we hope to hear from new founders and co-founders who are keen to join us in that community.

What 3 tips would you give to founders?

1) Don’t be too much in a hurry to find an investor for your startup. If possible, bootstrap the business for as long as possible while you get it quickly out to market to test it out. If people don’t actually have a need for your product/service, then securing investment will be a waste of time and money!

2) Don’t be afraid of personal branding. These days, people buy from people – so allow your followers and your customers to get to know the real you. Show people your character, provide people with your insights, demonstrate your expertise in your industry, shoot videos so people can hear your voice – all these things help that crucial buying decision, and it can be the difference between choosing your business over a competitor.

3) Keep going and don’t give up. We understand the pressures of trying to launch a startup to market, we’ve been there ourselves many times. But keep testing things, keep gathering feedback, keep learning and stay motivated.

More information you will find here

Thank you Nargis Jafferali and Demos Demetriou for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

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