A quick backstory of how Pixelmattic came to be. We started out as an education product startup almost 5 years ago. We bootstrapped our way to building a social learning platform, but go to market didn’t go to…err. plan.
The idealism and the naivety of a first-time entrepreneur gave way to the brutal reality of building a business.
We pivoted to a services business building apps and websites on various platforms. This meant a change in our approach and re-thinking every aspect of business. But DreamNotion had a positioning and brand problem with its previous association with education. We also felt that we were working on too many platforms and losing focus as a result.
Pixelmattic was born as a result, to address the brand problem and to help us focus on a particular service. Now a year later, with revenue and number of clients doubled, we’ve learned some valuable lessons.
Positioning is not what you do to a product, but what you do to the mind of the prospect — Jack Trout, Positioning
Positioning is critical for two reasons — helps you get clarity on the direction of your business and for clients to know who you really are. Word of mouth is more effective when people know you’re good at something and can easily share that. Positioning your product or services well makes your message easily shareable. Simple and clear messaging always helps. Doing too many things under the roof can muddle your USP, so going through an exercise of positioning your product or service is a reflective exercise that can be hugely beneficial.
We were able to create a new brand, position it clearly as a WordPress agency and focused on doing just a few things, but doing it really well. We immediately started to realise that our friends and business contacts now had a better language to use while telling their friends what we did. As a result, the word of mouth became more effective. The same thing happened with our clients as well.
Of course, we’re nowhere near being called an established brand, but we’ve realised the importance of how you project yourselves in the market. With Pixelmattic, the association with WordPress helped in differentiating ourselves in the local market and operationally helped us focus on being really good on one platform.
In the coming year, we plan to add new services, which would be a logical extension to what we’ve done so far and focus on building the brand and Pixelmattic business further.
Our aim is to build the Technology, Design and Content stack this year that can help businesses with building WordPress applications, designing interactions and creating brand stories.
Content marketing works, but it’s a lot of planning and hard work
When we started out with Pixelmattic, we took the decision of investing time and effort into creating content that would be useful to our target market. I spent the first 3 months building a strategy and putting processes in place.
A common theme I noticed in my research was that you needed a strategy that was documented and consistent effort to create valuable content. A year later, I can attest to the fact that having a strategy and plan of action most definitely helps. This means strategising on the type of content, identifying target customers who will read the content, and distributing the content through various channels.
Differentiation is very important here too. Identifying the customer to target was the most difficult and critical part. I’d say it’s still a work in progress.
The results weren’t instant, but we chipped away, tweaking our processes, improving the quality, experimenting with content length and distribution strategies. But when I look back at what we created and the value it has generated, I can definitely say that there is long term value in creating content.
The revenue generated from the content marketing channel alone was equal to the total revenue we generated in the previous year. Word of mouth and referrals have continued, as usual, resulting in doubling our revenue from last year.
Keeping your team lean improves the bottom line
We saved on cost by having a small team and still getting a lot of work done. Clear roles and responsibilities helped us achieve that.
Karan who manages the operations and projects ensured that our processes were efficient and we could accomplish a lot more than our team size suggested. We constantly looked for tools that would make us more productive. Trello, Slack and Freshdesk made a huge difference in improving our productivity and quality of service.
The drawback is when you want to grow your top line, you need to step back and allow others to manage and lead initiatives. Co-founders need to focus their energies on solving the bigger challenges of growth, operations and strategy while you leave the implementation to the well-trained team.
I’m a big believer in processes. Creating a well researched and thought out process helps you set up a team and let them run with it. Our content marketing strategy was on auto-pilot towards the end of the year as a result of the planning and processes that were in place. With new additions to our team this year, we intend to scale up our operations after the initial on-boarding and training is done.
Stand your ground when you believe you’re right
Customers will eventually come to respect that. They pay you not just to say yes to everything. When you push back or provide advice and feedback your service is more valued than someone who simply executed and said yes to everything.
When you do this, you also realise who are the kind of customers you want to work with. The ones that respect your opinion, regard you as a partner in growing their business are the ones you should work with.
When you come across clients who constantly question your motives, disregard your advice and have unrealistic expectations, it’s time for you to cut your ties amicably and move on. The longer you keep them on, the more it affects your business.
Convert your customer into a lifetime customer
The value of the customer is never restricted to the value of the first project they give you. The potential future projects and references can mean that the lifetime value of the customer is much higher. Therefore, it is important to cultivate a relationship with every customer worth keeping.
With content marketing, we realised that it was another way for us to keep the conversation going even when there was no project related communication. Our weekly emails gave us another medium to communicate with our clients, business contacts and friends on various topics.
Having an ongoing conversation with our customers and business contacts has lead to old clients coming back with new projects. It has activated dormant contacts, some of whom just got in touch to see what we were up to. All this has helped in spreading the word about Pixelmattic further.