Karol: The business idea was born many years ago, before 2009. At that time, we worked in large corporations - international financial institutions and the largest European banks. There we dealt with the implementation of advanced IT projects. We came up with the idea to create a platform dedicated to micro, small and medium-sized businesses and allow them to grow online. We started building that platform around 2009-2010. In 2012 the first version of the project was ready. We started meeting with clients. They liked the idea of the SME-dedicated platform very much, but they told us it was too early for such a project. Of all our platforms, they liked the website creation part the most. They came to us and said: "It is too early for this technology, but could you please create a website for me with specific functions?". And they asked for: a website with a portfolio, a website with vouchers, a website with real customer reviews... We started making these sites and then promoting them, and clients saw it worked. So they asked for more and recommended us further. We began to do it on an increasing scale, each time creating a project following the individual client's needs. We felt that personalization would be a massive trend in the future. This is how it started.
Transcript of the interview
1. Please introduce your company and give a brief about your role within the organization.
Karol: We are the agency that mainly creates websites and online stores. We have been operating on the market since 2010. We work mostly with micro, small and medium-sized companies from many countries. In the beginning, they were mainly customers from Eastern Europe, but now most of them come from the USA and Western Europe.
Our mission is to deliver real growth to all our clients. What distinguishes us is a very high commitment to each project. We never work like some agencies, which simply use a template, slightly adapt it to the client, and then charge a huge margin on the person-hours spent.
We have a very individual approach to each project and manage it most effectively. What is very important, we have a very carefully arranged process of creating projects. We have been developing it for over 7 years and constantly optimizing. Therefore, we are always able to deliver high-quality compared to the time spent. This also guarantees very reasonable costs for our customers.
What additionally distinguishes us? High level of specialization: we use artificial intelligence, interdisciplinary teams work on each project, and all of them are led by very experienced leaders. We perfectly know our client, their problems and their deep needs. We know how to help them. We have completed over 1000 projects - in each of them, we put in a lot of hard work, commitment and heart. We are also characterized by providing our clients with a satisfaction guarantee. We limit their risk to an extreme minimum.
Regarding my role in the company, as CEO, I manage all the work and always try to get to know our clients, so I often join e-meetings with them. I believe that every client has the right to get to know the people behind the company before deciding to cooperate with it. Therefore, I don’t restrict access to myself, I try to be as available as possible to Concept’s clients.
2. What is the story behind starting this company?
3. What are your company's business model – in house team or third party vendors / outsourcing?
Karol: Currently, our team consists of 30 people. Additionally, we cooperate with about 20 subcontractors, mainly in the creative areas: design, graphics and copywriting. This gives us access to enormous creative possibilities; we can create any, even very diverse design. Thanks to this, our projects perfectly match the specificity of the client’s business, industry, and branding. When it comes to copywriters, we work with them mainly to create multiple language versions of websites. We work only with native speakers - this ensures the perfect translation of all texts and the nature of communication into any other language. We believe native speakers guarantee the highest quality.
Many customers for whom we have created a website or online store come back to us and pay for monthly maintenance. Such a service is straightforward but essential and very effective: for several hours each month, we optimize the website, increase the results achieved by it, and make sure that the website maintains a very high level. The standards of web development and positioning are constantly changing. It's crucial to take care of it, not only at the beginning, right after creating and publishing the website, but also in the following stages. We usually make minor corrections on the website for free, to the wishes of our customers.
4. How does your company differentiate itself from the competition?
- Very high commitment to each project - we are proactive and always try to ensure that the final project exceeds even the client's expectations. The satisfaction and opinions of our clients confirm that we are good at it.
- Each of our clients can verify us before starting cooperation. We have opinions on many portals issued by confirmed customers. In addition, anyone can call us to learn more about our values and working methods.
- We use artificial intelligence and wide automation to be faster and more efficient than others.
- We have a large, interdisciplinary team so that we can implement many projects simultaneously with the same high quality.
- We have the best price-quality ratio of all famous companies.
- We care about the comfort of our customers. Therefore we provide them with a satisfaction guarantee. Thanks to this, they are very well protected. So far, only 1 customer has exercised this right.
- Each project is carried out by a minimum of 5 people who specialize in other areas. Sometimes more people work on larger projects.
- We have a very well-organized process, thanks to which we never deliver the final project worse than B + (compared to traditional academic grading in the USA).
- We have extensive and profound knowledge of web development, online business, marketplaces and marketing, which we have been acquiring for many years. We participated in the most significant global events in our industry.
- We have leaders who are specialists in their fields and speakers of the World Bank in their areas.
- We understand our clients perfectly. We know they need growth and solutions to existing problems. We deliver this by creating the highest-quality websites and online stores optimized to achieve business goals. Our actual product is not a website but a solution to problems and meeting customer expectations. From my experience, I can confirm that we can meet and even exceed almost all expectations.
5. What industries do you generally cater to? Are your customers repetitive? If yes, what ratio of clients has been repetitive to you?
Karol: We create mainly for specialized service industries, but not only. We often develop websites for specialists, including architects, lawyers, doctors, designers. We also often create for more common industries, including restaurant, beauty and construction industries. They are small and medium-sized businesses, mainly from the USA and Western Europe. Most of our clients come back to us after the end of the project because they see the effects of our actions. This is how our regular monthly services were born - because our clients asked us for them, and we wanted to help them as much as possible, so we decided to add them to the offer. Currently, clients have been cooperating with us for a very long time, on average over 5 years.
6. Please share some of the services that you offer for which clients approach you the most?
- Design and development of a professional website - for any business to reach business goals and grow online.
- Design and development of a professional online store - for any business to grow online, no matter if it sells products or services.
- Design and development of Landing Pages - we can create a well-designed, highly effective landing page with which it is possible to achieve any marketing and business goal. Our experience shows that landing pages help increase the achieved results for B2B and B2C companies.
- Design and development of Micro Pages / "Link trees" - We offer our clients a specialized product - Micro Page for marketing campaigns' needs. It allows you to significantly increase conversion from campaigns to mobile devices, social media campaigns, influencer marketing, etc. It is also very often used by private individuals to improve their image on the web.
- Implementation of applications - We implement apps on websites and online stores that let businesses gain more customers and grow faster. Apps like vouchers, loyalty programs, booking engines, portfolios, or chatbots are just some of our products. Now it's easy to reach the higher business level.
- Page optimization - over a dozen years of experience in creating websites provides us with extensive competencies. We are able to help every small and medium-sized business by optimizing its website through mobile optimization, improving SEO, User Experience optimization, or conversion optimization.
- Launching and running advertising campaigns - we have very advanced knowledge in almost all areas of digital marketing. We offer various campaigns, in most online marketing channels, including social media, mailing, SEO, SEM, PPC, content marketing, and analytics. With the help of various campaigns, we are able to effectively implement different marketing and business goals at every stage of the sales funnel or customer journey.
7. What is your customer satisfaction rate according to you? What steps do you take to cater to your customer's needs and requirements?
Karol: We always care about absolute customer satisfaction. Most often, it's expressed in how many customer problems we have solved and with what result. Our mission is to deliver growth, so we approach clients' problems comprehensively and try to solve them all. We are always very committed and we try to deliver a project that exceeds the client's expectations. This gives us the satisfaction that he will always be satisfied. And most likely he will come back because he remembers our cooperation well.
In addition, at Concept Agency, we provide our clients with a Satisfaction Guarantee, which works on simple terms: If the project does not meet the client's expectations and is not satisfied with it, he does not bear most of the costs of the project. I will tell you more about how the Satisfaction Guarantee works.
8. What kind of support system do you offer to your clients for catering to their queries and issues?
Karol: We are always available to our potential and current clients. They can always write to us, call us, arrange a demo or online meeting or even contact us via the chat on our website. All requests and tasks of our clients are saved in our internal system for organizing tasks. Additionally, we use CRM to improve customer service and management processes. Thanks to this, we have great control over all projects, regardless of their implementation stage. We often come back to our clients with suggestions for developing their websites. We try to be proactive and monitor all websites and online stores we create using analytics tools. Thanks to this, we know what results they achieve, how fast they act, how they position themselves, etc. If something goes wrong, we even contact former clients with suggestions on what to do to improve the website's results. We want to provide them with the biggest growth.
9. What kind of payment structure do you follow to bill your clients? Is it Pay per Feature, Fixed Cost, Pay per Milestone (could be in phases, months, versions etc.)
Karol: In the case of one-off projects, the client first pays 20% of the total project valuation, which is an advance payment. The remaining amount is paid only when the project is completed and only when the customer is satisfied. Otherwise, the customer does not have to pay the remaining 80% of the total amount. This is how our Satisfaction Guarantee works. The client risks almost nothing by starting cooperation with us - only 20% of the project costs which are often below our costs.
In fact, we bear the entire risk of delivering the project and all financial consequences. But we can afford it because we always deliver great results. Honestly, only once in our history has a customer benefited from a Satisfaction Guarantee.
In addition, we offer our clients various permanent services. Here, the pricing is very simple and depends on our time devoted to a given client. We always offer our clients only the services that suit them and are the most necessary for them. We do not want to sell the client, for example, a larger package of services if the client does not need it. We are very honest about it.
10. Please share some of the services that you offer for which clients approach you the most?
Karol: Such projects are usually challenging and demanding, which does not discourage us. If we feel that we can really help the company, we can also implement such projects. The minimum is usually around $ 2,000.
11. Please share some of the services that you offer for which clients approach you the most?
Karol: From $ 2,000 to $ 20,000. Of course, this price may differ in the case of very specialized projects, but 90% of our projects were within this budget.
12. Please share some of the services that you offer for which clients approach you the most?
Karol: Well, I'm definitely not interested in getting Concept to become a large corporation. We want to remain a specialized boutique agency that provides the highest quality services. It is crucial to us - the current size of our agency allows us to be partners for our clients, which we care about. We want to be treated as partners and always act based on the trust of our clients. I know from experience that such cooperation is the best; it provides the customer with the most significant value and feels well served. For a long time, we have been very focused on working with artificial intelligence, creating and managing processes and expanding the technological stack. Each of these factors is our advantage, and all of them combined allow us to be much more effective than the average competitor. The satisfaction of our customers confirms this.
In addition, we will constantly expand our knowledge over time. We are up to date with all trends and create tools to exchange acquired knowledge within the company. In this way, we are constantly developing, allowing us to have top-class specialists in our team. Over the years, we want to be more and more recommended by our clients and thus increase our reach and visibility in the industry. Nevertheless, we do not want to develop into a corporation because our priority is to maintain a very high quality of project implementation and customer service. Perhaps we will grow a few more times (I wouldn't mind!). But not to the size of a large corporation.