’’From struggle to success’’ Is it time to change?
If you’d like to meet a real enthusiast and team maker then you should definitely meet Marco Klein and his international team. He can not only grasps the people with his ideas, but is able to make you think these ideas are practically yours. In a time of digital age, video marketing became more powerful and changes do matter and WingzIt had the opportunity to talk with Marco Klein. He is a founder and Managing Director. Of Marco Klein + Parners
1.What is your idea / business about?
Marco Klein + Partners helps it’s clients increase traffic, conversion and brand awareness with video. We develop strategies, create concepts, write scripts, draw storyboards and produce the resulting videos with our own teams and facilities in Amsterdam and Shanghai. When required we also manage the video campaigns.
2.How was the idea born?
From 1991 to 2009 we were a full service advertising agency which also produced and directed the commercials for its clients. Six years ago we foresaw that the advertising industry would go through major changes in the years to come because of digital and inbound marketing. We also noticed that many clients, instead of working with one agency, were seeking the services of a number of specialized companies. So we decided to focus on what we do best: create and produce audiovisual content.
Although we were successful, we felt that our role was too passive, because we had to wait until a client decided to have a video, while we knew video could add value immediately in most cases. That’s why we became a video marketing company. We don’t offer video, but we offer help in increasing traffic, conversion and brand awareness with video.
3.Tell us about yourself and your team.
I’m a creative who became an entrepreneur to be able to do what I wanted to do. Our team is around thirty people in two countries. I know we’re all nice, smart, talented, highly skilled, tough, outspoken and willing to work really hard, because if you’re not you won’t last a month at Marco Klein + Partners. That’s what we have in common. Furthermore we are a mix of creatives, video specialists, strategists and producers of different age groups, with all kinds of backgrounds and several nationalities, who learned that the team effort is what matters most.
4.What are the main struggles you have experienced?
Any ambitious entrepreneur has a lot of struggles in many fields, because it’s never easy to reach ambitious goals. You always need guts, you always have to fight and you always run risks when you’re developing your business. But these are normal, healthy struggles.
What I find difficult to deal with is the lack of interest for change. I like to believe that I’m sort of visionary from time to time and at those moments it’s clear to me how culture, communication and media will evolve and how this could affect our business. We must prepare ourselves continuously for these developments, in general by just actualizing our proposition, but also by re-inventing our company every couple of years.
When discussing this subject I sometimes sense that people don’t grasp the urgency of change, that they think it all won’t go so fast. It can seem so, but they’re wrong. In a month everything will be the same as today and five years from now everything is the same as in five years plus one month. But chances are that you’ll become aware in five years that you should have changed things a long time ago to remain successful.
5. How did you solve your problems?
If you are referring to the struggles of the previous question:
I keep on pushing until we change.
6.If you had the chance what would you do differently?
We are almost five years in Shanghai, but we should have been there five years earlier, just before the explosion of online video in China.
7.What was the best advice you got and what was the worst?
Let’s start with the worst. Many people including my wife, my son, colleagues, accountants and bankers told me: “don’t go to China”. One person gave me the best advice I ever got, namely: “go to China” and I’m grateful, let me tell you why.
Shanghai is of a different order and into a much higher gear than Amsterdam. The energy in this city is incredible. Everything is 24 /7, people work really hard and gigantic things are realized. It’s truly a source of inspiration.
Moreover, China is at the forefront of developments in the field of online video and e-commerce. Not many people here know the largest Chinese video platform Youku Tudou. What they achieved is incredible. They’ve taken the role of broadcast TV with a huge offering of user generated content, licensed content, self-produced content, sometimes very innovative, branded content and the help of 875 million smartphone users.
E-commerce giant Alibaba, which you’ve probably heard of and where on November 11th -that’s Singles Day in China-, for 13 and a quarter billion euros was sold within 24 hours, acquired Youku Tudou. This will lead to the integration of video and e-commerce and to new types of content. So the prospects for a company like ours are obvious.
8.What will be your advice to the other entrepreneurs?
There are four things which proved to be useful to me that I can share.
- Keep clear of energy-vampires.
I believe that energy is one of the most important factors in business. You need energy to develop something, to make people believe in things, to see possibilities, to solve problems, to attract clients, to sell, in short: you need energy to succeed.
Even when you’re extremely charismatic and energetic, your energy is not inexhaustible, which is no big deal because when you give energy you’ll usually get some energy back, but not always. Some people can suck up a week’s worth of energy in minutes, without any refund. Keep clear of these energy-vampires and if you have them in your company; let them go before it’s too late.
- Be always on.
Five years from now we won’t be talking about a professional life and a private life anymore and certainly not about the holy work-life balance. If you don’t like the idea you better get used to it. Social media brought the private life already to the workplace and a whole lot of digital means make it easy to work outside business hours.
In general it’s considered it exceptional nowadays to spend time on work during evenings and weekends, but it will be normal. Many people have already adapted to the possibilities: I always receive work related mails outside office hours and at times it proves to be beneficial to react promptly.
- Be always available.
When I want to see someone in China I call, text or mail and a meeting is usually possible within the next couple of days. In Europe it’s quite a different story. It can take forever to bypass voice-mail boxes and out-of-office replies and when someone is finally reached I’m lucky when the meeting can take place within the next couple of weeks.
Could it be that the Chinese have more time available than Europeans because they don’t work as hard as we do? No definitely not: it’s the other way around. The reason is that the Chinese are far more flexible, so they find time and that personal relationships are highly valued, that’s why meetings are considered important.
We can learn from this. Everybody has at least an hour every day. What about the hour before your planned workday starts, or the hour after you’re done, what about the many hours you probably spend on utterly useless internal meetings? Make that time available to welcome people who want to see you, they might have something interesting to discuss.
- Write well.
The quality of writing is deteriorating at a rapid pace. I know from experience that this can be an advantage when you’re willing to spend time on written communication.
The precision with which you write your letters, mails, proposals, business plans, reports, applications and quotations has a major impact on the understanding and sometimes the acceptance. And the style you use tells the reader something about you, which can be important. So if you take the time to write better than most people it will benefit your business.
July 22, 2016