re7consulting is the only performance digital marketing agency in Romania with German management. The company wants to offer clarity and inspiration, as well as an innovating spirit, to its partners, by being a strong informational and educational resource on the market. BR talked with Sebastian Baier, the agency’s founder & CEO, and found out more about the start in Romania, how he perceives the market, pandemic, as well as the future plans.
By Romanita Oprea
What made you decide to choose Romania and not another country
My decision was very easy for me. I was lucky in 2014 as an employee for a Deutsche Telekom project for 6 months in Bucharest to have the opportunity to experience the country, the people, and the culture. After these 6 months, I made my decision to move at the end of 2015 to Romania and set up a digital marketing agency.
What were the opportunities here?
I still see Romania as a big playground where I can try out different projects. At that time in 2014, the online marketing market had not yet been developed very professionally compared to the German market. In addition, the job market for young talents was very large and so was the market potential.
What were the major differences from what you were expecting and the reality? How did you tackle them?
I had imagined it to be easier to win customers at the beginning, but the market was completely different from the German market and so we had to adapt through trial and error which took us some time. Similar to marketing campaigns in an industry where no advertising has been placed before.
What are the major differences between the Romanian and the German digital marketing industries, besides the budgets?
The German market is even more competitive and professional than the Romanian market, especially in the niches. But in Romania you have more potential with the marketing campaigns when the competition is not that big.
In Germany there are more platforms where you can run marketing campaigns. For example, there is the B2B network Xing in competition with LinkedIn, which can be used to generate company leads.
What attracts you here more and why?
To be honest, the weather, I find the temperatures spread over the year much more pleasant than in Germany. Another advantage is that I can get to the Black Sea relatively quickly from Bucharest or, if I drive north, I can be in the mountains very quickly. I also find it exciting to live in a city that is growing very quickly and is changing so quickly in terms of infrastructure.
What were so far the major challenges?
The biggest challenges were the first hiring of employees because they are the key to the success of a company and from my point of view. This is still a big challenge, to find the right employees and bind them to the company in the long term. Another challenge, for everyone, was the Corona Pandemic, both professionally and privately.
How about the pandemic? How did you adapt?
The coronavirus only affected our event business, so we couldn’t advertise any concerts. Fortunately, other industries have approached us so that we can promote their products, especially in the retail sector. So, it was possible for us to increase our sales and hire more employees in 2020.
The difficult decision for us was how to deal with the crisis and what to do. For example, during the crisis, we held free webinars to show companies how they can win customers over the Internet despite the crisis. Furthermore, last year we decided to invest massively in further training and to further expand our knowledge in order to set ourselves apart from the competition and deliver the best quality to our customers.
Can a difficult time for the market be an opportunity to grow and differentiate? How?
This always depends on the company management. For my part, I say very clearly that there is opportunity for growth in times of crisis or difficult times. Much can be learned from the past, although the technology has changed, the strategy remains the same. The first step is to reflect and outline possible scenarios. Based on the different scenarios, a strategy has to be developed that adapts to the new conditions and then it has to be executed.
How is your company positioning on the market and what does it offer differently?
We are a performance driven marketing agency. That means we focus on improving the performance of the marketing campaigns for our customers in order to achieve the best possible results.
Unlike other agencies only employees with the appropriate certification and work experience are working on customer accounts. This means that if we carry out Google Ads for a customer in the e-commerce sector, only employees with the all-relevant certification from Google will work on the marketing campaign. We communicate with our customers on a daily basis and are completely transparent about our activities.
We are focusing on the following industries: automotive, real estate, events and e-commerce. In these areas we built up a deep knowledge, developed working strategies which helped us to work with the biggest players in the Romanian market for these industries.
What should potential clients know about your company?
A potential client should know that 80% of our clients have seen a 20% increased return on investment after working with us. We don’t settle for average results, we try to achieve the best possible results for their business.
How do you consider that the consumer’s behaviour is changing due to the new platforms such as TikTok?
Our experience is that we have significantly higher engagement rates on TikTok than on the other social media platforms. On TikTok you can explicitly run follower campaigns for your channel, which other platforms do not offer. This makes it much easier to build a community on TikTok.
The rise of TikTok is challenging the existing players, like Meta with Instagram, to rethink customer engagement. New platforms bring new opportunities for changing consumer behavior and the big platforms are going to integrate these features into their platforms. Clubhouse or Reels are such examples.
How important is it to work based on the data and target the data first when it comes to achieving great results in digital marketing?
Without data, digital marketing campaigns fly blind. Good research at the beginning of a digital marketing campaign is the basis for a successful campaign. This is exactly the advantage of digital campaigns in contrast to offline marketing, that I can measure almost everything and thus invest our money more efficiently than in other channels that are offline.
How would you characterize the Romanian digital marketing industry?
This is difficult to say as the market is full of digital marketing agencies and very opaque. Many lone fighters (freelancers) offer everything for a low price, some small agencies are very aggressive with the prices but are not that professional, and then the larger agencies, some of which have already specialized. Many clients we meet have had bad experiences with marketing agencies in the past, making it difficult for us to build trust.
What determined to you to launch the re7talks podcast?
I already had a podcast called Harry & Seb talks with Harry from Imaginary Space on entrepreneurship and the no code web design tool Webflow for over a year now. Since I enjoyed this, I wanted to start a new format for our agency because there is a lot of misinformation about online marketing campaigns. At the same time, I give my employees the opportunity to share more of their expertise and talk about their daily work.
How do you choose the people you are inviting?
In the first phase of re7talks, we start with explanations of the individual questions that many potential customers ask at the beginning of a cooperation with us. In the next phase it is planned to invite our customers and guests from different economic sectors in Romania as well as internationally.
What is your target for it? What were your plans for 2022 for re7consulting and how have they evolved?
Our goal with re7talks is to reach at least 1000 subscribers for the YouTube channel by the end of this year. The plans for 2022 for re7consulting are to make our processes even more efficient so that we have more time for our customers. Furthermore, to triple our turnover, which we will already achieve in November.
What do you wish for 2023?
For 2023, I hope that the world will come to its senses and that we will leave the corona pandemic behind us.