In this episode of YouShouldTalkTo, our host Daniel Weiner welcomes Olga Andrienko, the VP of Brand Marketing at Semrush. Olga and Daniel get into the concept of gated content and the importance of agencies. They discuss building a brand, building a personal brand, and the difference between big agencies and smaller, specialized agencies.
💡 Name: Olga Andrienko, VP of Brand Marketing at Semrush.
💡 Noteworthy: With her team, Olga has built one of the most substantial international communities in the online marketing industry and has expanded Semrush’s brand visibility worldwide, entering the market in over 50 countries. In 2018, Olga was named one of the 25 most influential women in digital marketing by TopRank. In addition, Olga speaks at major marketing conferences, and her quotes on user behavior appear in media like Business Insider and Washington Post.
⚡ The concept of gated content. Gated content is any type of content that viewers can only access after exchanging their information. Users must fill out a form before they get access, and the form may ask for the user's name and email address as well as more information like their company and job title. According to Olga, gated content is excellent at the specific stage of the bias journey, but it's not great if it's the centerpiece of your campaign. "Let's say we have a track stage landing page, and then they register, they didn't convert, or they just visited the page, and then they left. So, we still have their information, and then they're not clearly engaged. This is where we might send them a state of the search-like report, which is also a huge report of a hundred pages. So we can put it anywhere else. And then, in PDF, that's digestible, and also we know that they have more interest towards us. Or there's a webinar, and for a webinar, we need registrations, and this is also something that I see as gated content."
⚡By building a community, you will build a brand. Building a brand — not just a business — will give you massive growth and fans, but it is a process that requires a strategy. As Olga says, the easiest way to build a brand is through people by creating a community. "Every startup wants to build their community, and then they don't know how. It requires certain people, but also it just requires you giving a lot of attention to people who already know you. And then, the community grows, but it's still not visible to the business. And then suddenly, there's a tipping point where your community's so big, and suddenly, you have a brand."
⚡The importance of agencies. An agency partner is powerful, and an agency partnership can increase your marketing reach, help you earn referral business, create variable revenue, provide value to current clients, etc. However, there are both positive and negative agency experiences. Olga sees agencies as an extended team and an essential part of her work and explains where she finds vendors. "I am judging a bunch of awards: European content awards, global content awards, social media awards — and usually agencies submit for their clients. So, this is the best way for me to learn about the campaigns of others; I don't go to the media outlets that share the campaigns because it's all restricted, and then I'm not able to share it. And so, they share everything; they share budgets, how it was done, the strategic goals, and the outcome — also screenshots from Google Analytics or any revenue numbers. So those are the best entries. I also save the entries in the folder — the ones that caught my attention — and then I ask my team members to reach out to those agencies if we have something that we could work with them on."
[00:00:00] Olga Andrienko: I do believe that one campaign doesn't define the relationship. And so, I do believe that if you're having a retainer, that means that you kind of committed to, to making this work from both sides. And I don't expect the agency to deliver, like, exceptional results every month.
[00:00:20] Daniel Weiner: Hello and welcome to another episode of the YouShouldTalkTo podcast. I am your host, Daniel Weiner, and this podcast is still sponsored by myself and YouShouldTalkTo, maybe we'll get a, uh, a big sponsor after our guest today. YouShouldTalkTo pairs brands and marketers for free with vetted agencies and/or freelancers for marketing and tech needs.
[00:01:17] Because finding great agencies is a giant pain in the ass. I am super excited to be joined globally today by Olga Andrienko, who is VP of Brand at Semrush, not SEM rush, I just found out. Olga, thank you so much for, uh, for joining me today.
[00:01:33] Olga Andrienko: Hello. Hello. Thank you so much for having me, Daniel. Very excited about the conversation.
[00:01:38] Daniel Weiner: And you're in Barcelona today, correct?
[00:01:40] Olga Andrienko: Yes.
[00:01:40] Daniel Weiner: I'm jealous. We'll do the next one live. I'll, uh, I'll...
[00:01:43] Olga Andrienko: Very foggy, uh, just I can't see anything from my window, so.
[00:01:47] Daniel Weiner: Foggy in Barcelona I would take over foggy in Atlanta, where I am. But, uh, no, we will, we will dive right in. What is a very unpopular opinion you have or a hot take of sorts in the marketing world?
[00:01:59] The latest thing I could, I published on LinkedIn, was about gated content. And, uh, these days, there's a lot of hate towards gated content, which I don't share, because...
[00:02:12] Daniel Weiner: Really? I'm very pro, uh, no-gated content, so this is good. Let, let's hear it. Gimme, gimme the case for gated content.
[00:02:20] Olga Andrienko: So, gated content is great at the certain stage of the bias journey. So, it's not great if you, it's the centerpiece of your campaign. This is something that I wouldn't suggest, but let's say, like, we have a track stage, landing pages, and then, uh, they register, they didn't convert, or they just visited the page and, uh, then they left.
[00:02:47] So, we still have their information, and then they're not clearly engaged. So, this is where we might send them a state of search-like report, which is also a huge report of, uh, a hundred pages so, we can put it anywhere else. And then, in PDF, that's digestible. And also we know that they have more interest towards us. Or there's a webinar, and for webinar, we need registrations. And, uh, this is also something that I see as gated content. So, also, in a lot of companies then, this is something that company would put a lot of effort in. And then, for example, the online conference. Then they like it, I think,
[00:03:31] it's all right to ask for information and exchange of free content. So, it signals the interest. It doesn't signal that you need to put your sales team on this lead and call them immediately after. Uh, so this is something that, like, I'm very opposed to, but just to ensure that you can continue the conversation, this is a really good piece.
[00:03:56] That is a hot take. I'm curious, do you think that that applies to every brand, or do you think you ha, you know, it's a little different for a brand like yours that has some sort of like, you know, people see the name and node and stuff like that? Or do you think that applies kind of across any brand like that?
[00:04:10] Daniel Weiner: I know when I see stuff from a brand like you all that I'm, I'm interested because I would consider you all like to be one of the, you know, leaders in the space and stuff like that. So, I feel like I view content from you, like it already comes with some layer of trust. Do you think that applies to brands that don't have, like, name recognition in some capacity?
[00:04:29] Olga Andrienko: Every brand was a no-name, uh, at some point. So, I think, if the company constantly posts shitty content, then you would, like they would not, it's not that you see really always bad content from the company and suddenly they have gated content, and then it miraculously will be better. So, this I don't believe in.
[00:04:53] So, at first, people always consume some, so that's why I, I think that for a track stage or for just, like, the first awareness stage where this would be a first touch point, this is a very bad decision. But if that's later in the journey, later in the funnel where they already know you, even if you're a small brand, but they just pushing out the webinar and then hoping that you always will have, like, a new audience there without your existing audience also shining in.
[00:05:25] This would be bad. Like, you need to build the trust, and you build trust with open content. And even with social media presence, with thought leadership that just doesn't require anything rather than just attention. And then, uh, when there's trust, then doesn't matter big or small, the brand is.
[00:05:44] Daniel Weiner: Sure. And for those who haven't heard of Semrush, can you give us, like, the one or two line, how do you describe it? Uh, I feel like you would be better than anybody as a head of the actual brand, how would you describe Semrush to somebody who had never heard of it?
[00:05:56] Olga Andrienko: In two words. That's actually quite difficult, even for, for me.
[00:05:59] Daniel Weiner: I'll give you 2, 2, 2 sentences. Let's try that.
[00:06:03] So, it's, uh, a bunch of tools, both together, in one platform to increase online presence for any website, any company online.
[00:06:15] Daniel Weiner: That's perfect. We just came up with the, the new messaging right here, live on the show. And you focus on brand, which is, you know, I talk to a lot of Heads of Marketing, CMOs, VPs of Marketing and Brands like, uh, a scary thing to a lot of people, it's something that they want to focus on, but kind of scared to 'cause it's hard to measure.
[00:06:33] Uh, talk to me a little bit about, like, what you focus on and how you think about measurement of brand.
[00:06:39] Olga Andrienko: I still report on new users and revenue, so. And, also, my teams create content for campaigns that we even push to pay channels. So, it's, uh, we measure, uh, revenue coming, like in, well, so we have an attribution model. And I, I see what revenue came from organic search brand, organic search non-brand and referral, and all other, like direct traffic, as well.
[00:07:06] And, uh, then I also measure the impressions in Google Search Console for our branded keyword. And I, if I see the, well this going up and then our search volume goes up. And that means also that the brand is getting stronger. Also, just, various metrics like mentions and, uh, but that's something that we used to measure very diligently for many years.
[00:07:33] Right now we measure it in PR, but it's not the, yeah, it's not a significant metric and the growth of our social media audience. So, right now, we have, like, over 700,000 in English-speaking channels. And, also, we do measure the engagement and also the, like the proportion of, uh, so, because what actually defines the brand is the community you have.
[00:07:57] And smaller companies really struggle with building the community and also investing in the community and brand. The easiest way to build the brand is through people and build, like, gathering them. And I just discussed it the other day with my colleague that every startup wants to bring, build the community, and then they don't know how.
[00:08:20] Olga Andrienko: And, also, they, it just requires certain people, but also it just requires you giving a lot of attention to people who already know you. And then community grows, but it's still not visible to the business. And then, suddenly, there's a tipping point where your community's so big, then suddenly you have a brand.
[00:08:38] So, uh, for us it took, like, five years to build the community we had before, like it was obvious, it was very huge. It was huge. But I do encourage, uh, brands like, well, just to go on social and do a simple search of your brand name and then start interacting with people who already mentioned you. And this is a great start.
[00:09:01] Like, it, it is a conversation that has to happen also because the attention is the currency. And then, if you see someone giving you even, like, two minutes of their time online, this is a huge deal. And then, it's not something that you need to know, you, you can overlook. So, this is a recommendation for anybody who wants to build a community.
[00:09:23] Daniel Weiner: And you probably learn, I would say, I would argue, I, I come from a social media background. You learn more about your customers and prospects from reading the positive, the negative, and all of it in that sort of environment where you're usually getting a more honest feedback versus a review and stuff like that.
[00:09:39] It's interesting that you talk about community. I mean, I've seen it truthfully on a, you know, astronomically tinier scale with my own company and stuff like that, enabling, you know, evangelists and instituting a, a board of advisors to a certain degree that has added validation. It has, you know, I joke, it's put me in rooms I probably don't deserve to be in.
[00:09:58] It's, you know, made me money that I wouldn't have made otherwise and stuff like that, which is a huge goal for me in 2023 of rolling out more of those people. So, even on, like, a small scale, I've, I've seen it have a huge impact on my business.
[00:10:09] Olga Andrienko: Yeah.
[00:10:10] Daniel Weiner: And you've talked about brand a ton. I've seen lately on LinkedIn with you, you've made a concerted effort to work on your personal brand. I'm curious, what was the catalyst for that? You know, when did you start, and kind of what's your thoughts on it so far?
[00:10:22] Olga Andrienko: So, I started in summer this year, and I just realized that the only thing that people know about me is that I work for Semrush. And, uh, that's it. And even my team and people inside the company, they just don't know my values. Well, we talk about this a lot, but not, well, in the personal way. So, I just thought that I'm much more, so it's, and everybody needs to be like, "We are all three-dimensional."
[00:10:56] It's not that we ha, we are the professionals, and then the job is on, the only thing that defines us. So, I'm passionate about a lot of stuff and, uh, so that's why I just started to, like, share it, and then also the response that you get immediately, this just motivates you to go on and on.
[00:11:16] And, uh, it has brought wonderful connections. And also, we are talking because I shared one of my posts on LinkedIn, uh, about agencies. And this has done a wonderful thing even for my presence within the company because, suddenly, I, well, a lot of my team members and colleagues saw me from a completely different angle, and they were able to connect with me or interact with me on a completely different level because we share interests, we both have dogs.
[00:11:46] Daniel Weiner: Where's the dog? Where's the dog? Why's the dog not made an appearance on this?
[00:11:48] Olga Andrienko: She's sleeping.
[00:11:50] Daniel Weiner: This podcast.
[00:11:50] Olga Andrienko: You know, right next to me. Um, and also it brought, like, it brings interviews and, um, it, uh, yeah, it brings a lot of beautiful things and, uh, so in that sense, yeah, I'm very excited. Also, now I, I'm trying to help others to build personal brand. So, I took up, uh, five mentees, uh, for free that I'm going to work for, with for three months. And then I'll, we'll see where it gets. I'm very, very excited.
[00:12:21] Daniel Weiner: That's great. Yeah. I've been, uh, I would say, focused on my personal brand for, uh, close to, like, two and a half years now. I've been posting basically every day on LinkedIn. I started the podcast about six months ago and stuff like that. And, yeah, it's kind of wild. Like, it's similar to how you, like, talked about the community and brand.
[00:12:39] Like, you start doing this stuff, and then you're like, "Is anything happening?" And then one day you're like, "Oh, like, this is kind of cool." And you don't really realize it. It's why it's, it's also hard to me, like when people ask me like, "Oh, has it been successful?" I say, "Yeah." But then when they're like, "Well, like, how?"
[00:12:52] I'm like, "Uh." Like, I don't really know how to answer that part of the question. Like, I just know that there's an significant increase in activity in, like, the sphere around me, whether that's on LinkedIn or email. And it also softens, like, when you're emailing people that you don't know or like Warren mentions like, "Oh, like, you're the guy I saw, like, doing that thing once." Or something like that.
[00:13:11] Even with us, like, you know, you posted on LinkedIn, I presume when I messaged you and stuff like that, you probably looked me up and saw that I was reasonably active, which I imagine can't hurt. So, uh, no, yeah, we are here because of the, uh, the personal brand, so.
[00:13:24] Olga Andrienko: Well, also, I hired one person that we, she connected with me on LinkedIn. So, and two, two months after I hired her to my team. And, uh, yeah, I would say, well, in, in measurable goals, like, there were two speaking in engagement, in conferences and over 10 podcast interviews. I've done podcasts before, but this is the increased number of, uh, of appearances, like, within, like, five months. So it's, uh.
[00:13:55] Daniel Weiner: This is your, this is your favorite one, right? Of course.
[00:13:58] Olga Andrienko: Yes, yes.
[00:13:59] Daniel Weiner: Yeah.
[00:13:59] Olga Andrienko: Well, I'm very, yeah. I'm very, very passionate about the agency topic, and then I, so, yeah, I was, I was very, very, like, I was, "Yes, I'm gonna do it, for sure."
[00:14:08] Daniel Weiner: Well, let's jump into that. Your post was about agencies that led me to reach out. My first question there is just what's your overall opinion on agencies? You know, they get a bad reputation sometimes for interesting sales practice, and just I feel everybody has a, a positive agency experience and a negative agency experience.
[00:14:26] What's your overall opinion on, on agencies?
[00:14:29] Olga Andrienko: I see them as my extended team. So, there are some great experiences with even the internal team and then also some not really great hires, or it just might not work out because it's just not a great fit. So, I see, well, I see that they enable me to really run larger projects or to start something new, so I see them as an essential part of my work.
[00:14:56] Daniel Weiner: That's great. Obviously, before finding me, you know, you, you needed to find agencies on your own, but, in general, you know, I had another podcast guest on, Kathleen Booth, who's, uh, SVP of Marketing at Pavilion, another awesome community. You know, she had the line, which has stuck with me, that community is the new Google.
[00:15:13] You know, no one's going to Google to, like, search, oh, like web development agency or anything like that. They're using it to validate after the fact. But, you know, where are you finding vendors? Are you typically asking folks, or you have a network of your own that you've worked with in the past? Like, what's your process typically to start that process?
[00:15:30] Olga Andrienko: I am judging a bunch of awards, so European Content Awards, Global Content awards, Social Media Awards, and, uh, usually agencies submit for their clients. So, this is my, the best way for me to learn about the campaigns of others. So, I don't go to the media outlets that just share the campaigns.
[00:15:52] This is the, um, because it's all, is restricted, and then I'm not able to share it. And so, they share everything. They share budgets, the, how it was done, like the strategy goals and the outcome, also screenshots from Google Analytics or any revenue numbers. So, those are the best entries. And, uh, I also, like, saved the entries in, in the folder, the ones that really, really caught my attention.
[00:16:20] And then I ask my team members to reach out to those agencies if we have something that we could work with them on. So, we hired PR agencies for, like, broadcasting, and then we've had, like, thousands, I would say, coverages
[00:16:38] across the UK and US radio stations because of our work with one agency. We had creative agencies, SEO agencies, so, reputation agencies, as well.
[00:16:49] And, uh, majority of them, like, they're coming from the subscription that I once reviewed as a judge.
[00:16:55] Daniel Weiner: It's interesting to hear that 'cause I've always kind of like, I don't know if it's a hot take of mine, but, like, I find a lot of, not all, but uh, the vast majority of agency awards to be total bs and coming from, like, agency side, like there were so many times we would get an email, like we won something and we'd be like, "Oh, we won something.
[00:17:12] That's awesome." We'd be like, "Yeah." Like, buy your plaque for like, it was like a sales tactic from somebody else. So, like, I think it's, uh, to your point, like it makes total sense. I think, like, the add-on would be like, it's important to do your due diligence of the awards that you see and stuff like that.
[00:17:28] And, like, to your point, taking it a step further of like, "Well, like, what was this actual thing that they did?" And like, "What, how, uh, you know, reputable is this award?" And all that.
[00:17:36] Olga Andrienko: Yeah. Yeah. But we also look at the judging panel and, uh, it is just, if there are representatives of the brands who run big campaigns, then if you don't get the award, then you might just likely get the client.
[00:17:50] Daniel Weiner: Sure. Yeah, totally fair. Uh, in general, what are you looking for from an agency or vendor? How can somebody stand out?
[00:17:57] Olga Andrienko: So, when I said the brief, then the, the speed of the response and then generally the communication style.
[00:18:04] Daniel Weiner: You're already ahead of the game with sending briefs. You'd be, how many, uh, marketers are, I'm like, "Do you have a brief for me to review?" They're like, "What do you mean? We don't know."
[00:18:12] Olga Andrienko: Okay. Well, yeah, so we create the huge presentation and then, uh, well, I do ask, like, the agency not to, like, to share it further. Right? But, yeah, it's, uh, I just want to save us both time. And, uh, so, for them to really quickly assess, whether it is something that they would be interested to work in.
[00:18:34] And, also, we have tight deadlines. And then, I love when agencies just say, "Yeah, sorry, like, we're not gonna take
[00:18:41] you just 'cause, like, your deadlines are crazy." And, um, that's where I also look carefully at the agencies who said, "Yes, yes." Because then just might not be the real yes. So, yeah, like the communication style,
[00:18:56] I think this is what is crucial because you need, you will be on a lot of calls together, and then you would just need to execute together. And there needs to be this trust. And, also, if, if the agency is just not invested and, uh, then it's an issue. Then I always look at, so, we, for example, when we send the request for a big campaign, then, how carefully they, like how they understood what we need and they list out the assets and the costs and, uh, also the timeline.
[00:19:31] And then, for example, we have a lot of opinions, so we need revisions. And then, the number of revisions and then how much, like what's the timeframe for us to give the feedback, when. So, this is something we pay attention to. And then, the case studies, not all of the case studies, but something like either relevant to us or something really outside the box.
[00:19:53] And even the language. So, we had, uh, one of the agencies and they have this, like, "We create cool shit."In, in there, and then, they presented this also in the same tone of voice. And this is something that, and we, we had a campaign that was really...
[00:20:12] Daniel Weiner: That either goes really well or really poorly
[00:20:13] Olga Andrienko: Yeah. And, yeah. So, we all, we had this very bold campaign that we wanted to run, so that matched perfectly.
[00:20:20] And, uh, so, yeah, even the tone of voice and the presentation. And also how much time and thought went into the pitch.
[00:20:29] Daniel Weiner: No, that's great. You're, you also furthered, I, I kind of set you up there, you, you furthered my belief of my actual hot take in this world. So, I was at an agency for seven years. I've been doing this in this capacity for two and a half, and my hot take is that the work doesn't matter. And what I mean by that is, of course, the work matters, but if you don't do process, if you're not likable, like all the stuff that happens before the work, then you don't even get to do the work.
[00:20:51] And I think so many agencies focus on like, "We're the best at X." Which I find to usually be falls, as well. But, and they lack the process and stuff like that. And I ask this question on every podcast, and when I, when we'll get to a positive experience, nobody yet your number, I think 17, like not a single person, has referenced the actual work.
[00:21:14] It's process, you listed expectations in the proposal, you know, communication, like actually reading the brief, which you'd be shocked that, like, you know, people send documents and they're like, yeah, they didn't read it clearly. Like, you know, we have these two things in there, and they didn't mention 'em once, or something like that.
[00:21:29] So, it's interesting, I'm, I'm curious in general about that. Like, I think the, the, doing good work is kind of the cost of admission. You know, what do you think of that? I typically hear from folks that they prioritize, like it needs to be good, it can't be bad, but, like, they need speed and they need, like, things like that.
[00:21:47] And being nimble more than, like, world class, you know, work, in a lot of the, for a lot of stuff, not everything, but I'm curious your opinion on that.
[00:21:55] Olga Andrienko: Yeah, the speed. So, the deadlines are important. But also, for example, like we, we were working with performance agency. And we needed a lot of banners for display, and then they delivered really poor quality. And, uh, this is where we just had to hire external freelancer. And, uh, who would?
[00:22:19] Daniel Weiner: Did they push back on the deadline at any point or no?
[00:22:22] Olga Andrienko: Uh, well, yes, but this also didn't help. And.
[00:22:27] Daniel Weiner: Sure.
[00:22:28] Olga Andrienko: But, also, they really underestimated the scope of work and realized it only when they started the work
[00:22:36] and, uh, delivering. So, yes, the speed, but I think, I have never heard of, uh, anyone on the brand side who was, like, completely happy on, on, on the client side, who was completely happy with an agency. And also an agency who was not really frustrated with the client.
[00:22:56] So, I think it's just always like, we want everything fast and best quality and then, but we also want them then to spend more hours. And then, agency has limited amount of hours they allocated per client. And then, also, I don't want them to charge me more while they would need to charge me more if I want them to make more effort.
[00:23:19] So, I do understand the restrictions and while also frustrations on both sides. But I have a mindset of the, well, I have internal team, and if we have something very crucial, like, we will stay. Well, we will just put more effort. Okay. We will, we don't have this nine-to-five mentality.
[00:23:41] And then, so if something needs to get done and then that's like, uh, we have one week before the launch, then we will put in more effort hours and everything. But agency, they, well, I can't expect something of them, because then extra hours, like, would, well, agency owner would need to find the money somewhere.
[00:24:00] So, that's a completely different model and mindset and level of like, "Well, they're not as invested as I am in my project."
[00:24:08] Daniel Weiner: Yeah. Since I work with the agency and the brand, I get feedback from both. So, I, I do know, to your point, like several who both sides are, are thrilled with each other, but it's, truthfully, it's never like they delivered this awesome website or anything. It's like, yeah, they actually care. They, you know, communicate really well.
[00:24:25] Like, they meet with our team. We need, like, the flexibility. But you hit the nail on the head, like, coming from an agency, as well. It's because the agency and the brand, which is why I'm such a big proponent of like, there needs to just be so much transparency on the front end because both sides are approaching it from two different, uh, like, different perfect outcomes.
[00:24:45] The agency wants to bill you the same amount of hours and spend the same amount of time, so they can staff it properly and, like, you know, have some sort of normalcy. And the deliverables remain reasonably the same, and the account only goes up. You're never spending less. The brand, to your point, wants to not be charged more, but they need a layer of flexibility.
[00:25:05] And, truthfully, I blame neither side. I blame the internet, with how fast the internet works, and it's just weird now. Like, you have to capitalize on certain things, particularly, like, with social and different trends if you wanna participate in them. And that's really hard. So, like, I think the client-agency relationships, I see excel, are exceptional communicators and they're both super transparent and genuinely want to see both sides succeed. The brand wants to see the agency do well. The agency wants to see the brand excel, and they work together to, like, figure out the best way to do it. But you also have to have some layer of reasonable expectation, which is why I, too, love when my agencies and I talk to them about an opportunity, and they go, "Yeah, like, no, not a fit for X, Y and Z." Or, "That timeline just would not work for us." Or, "That budget." Would much rather them say that than take it on, it'd be a terrible, terrible process.
[00:25:54] Olga Andrienko: Yeah. I agree.
[00:25:56] Daniel Weiner: I've seen a big shift since COVID of bigger brands, or bigger named brands, I should say, moving towards smaller independent agencies that are specialized in, like, one to two things. What do you think of that? Is that typically, like, what you're interested in? Do you, you know, it doesn't matter, you might work with a full-service agency as well, what do you think of like smaller, specialized agencies?
[00:26:18] Olga Andrienko: So, we work with both. But I think, uh, boutique agencies really would deliver a lot more for you, especially when you are a big client for them. And then, they understand that if you, if they deliver for you, then, well, this case study would really, uh, give them, like, more clients of, like of,
[00:26:40] so they can use you, they can use us as a reference. We were entering Brazil market with a boutique PR agency, and we were using, well, our data and then tapping into data journalism. And then, if we would've chosen the, just a regular PR agency or some, like, branch that works for, for a really big firm, then we would never have, uh, gotten the results that we got.
[00:27:09] So, this worked really well. But also, if we need a big campaign delivered and then like hundreds of assets for ads, uh, well, for ad campaigns and promo packs, then hiring a boutique agency would really be risky there. So, that's where we choose bigger agencies because they have a good network of freelancers.
[00:27:31] And then, they would ensure that the speed, yes, of course, well, for example, that's where we can say, "Yes, we will pay more for the speed." But they at least have someone they could trust, and then we will have it on time. So, we use both, but for completely different reasons.
[00:27:48] Daniel Weiner: No, that's good advice for folks out there like weighing the pros and cons. I agree totally with the boutique side that, yeah, they just care more. It's a bigger deal to them. It's such a huge opportunity, uh, that can truthfully, like, propel an agency significantly further into the future by winning, like, a really big client, doing a really good job, truly.
[00:28:07] Because if you have a good experience, somebody like you is gonna, you know, talk about them to your friends, your colleagues, other people internally, other companies you go to in the future, you'll bring them with you. Like, it's such a, you know, a big deal to, uh, smaller shops.
[00:28:21] Olga Andrienko: One risky thing though is that boutique agencies, if there is a big client, then they will hire a dedicated person working, uh, specifically with that client. And if the client leaves, then it's the, well, the headcount that they have and then they need to fill in quickly while, again, with the, with the bigger agencies that might not be that serious. So, I've heard this even with the SEO agencies that like, they had someone, some client for, like, 40, 50K and then, like, suddenly there was just a, the client left and, uh, then they needed to fill the gap quite quickly.
[00:28:59] Daniel Weiner: Yeah, it's scary when one client is such a significant portion regardless small agency, big agency, is such a big portion of revenue and, and team size and stuff like that. 'Cause, yeah, the unfortunate part of agency is you lose a client, you nick the team or reallocate them, but chances are somebody's getting laid off, which is an unfortunate part of, not just the tech industry, but agency world always, with layoffs going on right now.
[00:29:23] But you referenced earlier, you know, you've had, or we both referenced kind of, everybody's had a positive and negative. Let's dive into those specifically. Let's, uh, you wanna do the positive or the negative first? You wanna, wanna finish on a high note or start on a high note?
[00:29:36] I, yeah, from, from both are fine.
[00:29:39] Daniel Weiner: Let's, let's, let's do the positive. We'll finish, we'll finish with the downturn of that portion. What's been a positive agency experience you've had in the past? And then, what made it positive?
[00:29:47] Olga Andrienko: So, we worked with the agency on our social media. And that was, uh, we started two years ago, I think, and we really wanted to have something that would match our tone of voice that was, uh, friendly, energetic and bold. And then, we wanted, so we act like human, like we have jokes and we are very informal, and the team could navigate this like we were doing okay, but it was not any consistent, like, flow of ideas, and we asked the agency to come up with, uh, something very funny. And, uh, they had a team of standup comedians, and then they created lots of tweets. And we, like, uh, my internal team saw, and then they learned from the agency on how to do these things and what resonates, what doesn't.
[00:30:48] And then, we worked with the, this agency further on different campaigns. But, well, from that point, like, the internal team got such a boost that we don't use the agency for this now. So, I also see that, like, agencies see so much, and also they hire talent from all, well, all backgrounds. And, uh, that's a great also learning experience for the team because it broadens horizon or it's, well, just they see what's possible.
[00:31:19] So, that was the positive experience.
[00:31:22] Daniel Weiner: Okay. And what about the negative, and what made it so negative?
[00:31:26] When we had to launch a campaign with, uh, 35 landing pages in seven languages. And, uh.
[00:31:36] Daniel Weiner: Language translation is always a, a fun, uh...
[00:31:39] Olga Andrienko: Well, we do this internally. Yeah. But we had, like, we, we needed the visual concepts, and we needed, uh, also promo packs and, well, the banners and, uh, everything also for social media. And, uh, so, we saw, it was an agency who was a reference. And then, we were like, we had only two months for the campaign, to build the campaign.
[00:32:01] So, it was very, very tight deadline. And they, the agency couldn't deliver the visual concept. That was not something special. It was just a bunch of templated things. And also, we were meant to have a photo shoot within, and then they didn't even approve the models with us. So, the, we just, so, that was, and then we just, uh, we ended up using stock photography because, uh, there was no time for the another photo shoot.
[00:32:35] Daniel Weiner: Why did they not get, why'd they not get that approved?
[00:32:38] Just didn't feel, just didn't feel, like it?
[00:32:40] Olga Andrienko: Yeah, probably. So, that, yeah, but, so that, that was, uh, yeah, that was an upsetting part. And, yeah, the quality of the banners with the HTML5, that was just, uh, really bad. So, that was, that was a negative experience.
[00:32:56] Daniel Weiner: That's fair. Do you think it sounds, was that a long-standing relationship or was that like...
[00:33:00] Olga Andrienko: No. And that was just one-off. Yeah.
[00:33:02] Daniel Weiner: When you're engaged with somebody for, like, call it a retainer, like an extended period of time, do you think that a bad situation can be salvaged or like once the seed of doubt has been planted, like, there's kind of a point of no return you've, uh, you've reached? Do you think something can get back on the rails?
[00:33:19] Olga Andrienko: I do believe that one campaign doesn't define the relationship. And, uh, if we, for example, we, we use the PR agency, we then were not happy and we, we dropped the contract, but then, like, one year later, we're still working with the same agency because our, also, circumstances changed or our expectations changed.
[00:33:44] So, and the agency was, well, improved as well. So, I do believe that if you're having a retainer, that means that you kind of committed to, to making this work from both sides. And I don't expect the agency to deliver, like, exceptional results every month.
[00:34:04] Daniel Weiner: I wish everybody thought that way, in, uh, in, in brand world.
[00:34:09] Olga Andrienko: Well, continue, so, it, it's also like they learn, also, they probably put different talent on projects. We also evolve, and we are asking for better things to do because we, well, have different experience and better experience and also more ambitious goals. And then, I do expect some failure or just learning experiences along the way.
[00:34:34] Daniel Weiner: That's fair. What are you most excited about in the marketing world right now? There's, there's metaverse, there's NFTs, in-person events are, uh, back for the most part, I feel. What are you most excited about?
[00:34:47] Olga Andrienko: I'm actually excited about personal brand.
[00:34:49] Daniel Weiner: You were supposed to say, "This podcast." That's, that was supposed to be your answer. I, I set you up for that, as well. Now, talk, talk to me more about personal brand.
[00:34:58] Because I think right now with, uh, a lot of layoffs, people start realizing that this is something that would make them more secure because they're less dependent on the employer. And then, they have a network that would, like, they would find even the new job quicker, or they would have side hustle.
[00:35:20] And even, for example, for agencies, there's a big difference with the agencies where agency owners have big, strong, personal brand and, uh, yeah, the agencies that just will operate without the strong persona representing them. And I do believe that it's equally important for both agencies and in-house professionals. And I now received, like, over a hundred of requests, like, well, even, want to,
[00:35:49] Olga Andrienko: so I would help people when I announced that I'm taking five mentees. So, I now, then I realized that it's like, and a lot of people said, "Oh, I see this message like in the right time in my career." And this was a signal that people really start thinking of this, like, "Okay, well, companies need to have brand, but also,
[00:36:08] like, I need to show who am, am I to the world." And, uh, yeah, I see it more and more. And, uh, also the creator economy, I think, really contributes to that. So, people see others. And then, this, like, desire to share. I think this is universal. People just have a lot of, like they're scared, they're not maybe allowed by their employers to speak out. But, overall, I think next year we'll see a lot more posts on LinkedIn, a lot more TikTok and Reels and...
[00:36:42] Daniel Weiner: Yeah.This is gonna be all over our TikTok and Reels as well, once we're done. So, uh, you know, your, your, your brand will reach, uh, new heights. But, no, I, I totally agree. I mean, visibility is just, in general, you know, the person I interviewed yesterday is, uh, Drew Brocker, who's VP of Growth at Lasso. And he had a comment, something along the lines of like, "Everybody has a personal brand, whether they like it or not.
[00:37:03] It might as well be a good one. You know? You might as well, like, try to make it a good one." But, yeah, like, to your point, just being seen is, I think excuse enough for times like this 'cause, yeah, like, I firmly believe that people who have personal brands, if they get laid off or anything like that, like, they won't have to interview or apply for jobs.
[00:37:23] Like, they're reaching out to their network and having a ton of opportunity, you know? More so, and you're, you're truthfully getting left behind a little bit. I don't think everybody has to post every single day on LinkedIn by any means, but it should be a focus or at least something that most people who are into their career should be thinking about for sure.
[00:37:39] Olga Andrienko: Absolutely.
[00:37:41] Daniel Weiner: What is something that keeps you up at night from a marketing or business standpoint that stresses you out?
[00:37:47] Olga Andrienko: I don't think that in, yeah, I sleep very well.
[00:37:51] Daniel Weiner: That's the best answer I've gotten. It's 'cause you're in Europe, us, stupid Americans, we sleep terrible, and we work too much. That's the best answer I've gotten on this entire podcast ever. "What keeps you up at night?" 'Nothing. I sleep great, Danny, what's going on over there?'" That's the, I'm so happy. That's the best end.
[00:38:08] That's the best last marketing-focused question. You're like, "What do you mean? I, nothing stresses me out. I'm in Barcelona." I remember your, uh, your patio that you were sitting on last time. What could be stressing you out?
[00:38:20] Olga Andrienko: Yeah.
[00:38:21] Daniel Weiner: That was a dumb question on my part. We'll, uh, we'll, we'll, we will finish with some fun ones and hopefully, uh, yeah.
[00:38:27] What was your very, very, very first job?
[00:38:31] Olga Andrienko: I was a salesperson in a T-shirt shop in Mackinac City, Michigan.
[00:38:39] Daniel Weiner: Okay. Are you from there?
[00:38:41] Olga Andrienko: No, no. It was Work&Travel.
[00:38:43] Daniel Weiner: Gotcha.
[00:38:44] Olga Andrienko: Uh, for, so, it was the job for the summer. And so, I got away from, like, everything I, uh, that was comfortable for me as, as far as possible and to the furthest place in the United States
[00:38:59] I felt. So, it was fun.
[00:39:02] Daniel Weiner: Do you think that prepared you in any capacity for what you do today?
[00:39:06] Olga Andrienko: Yes. Well, so, the owner noticed that people bought twice as much stuff or, like, often from me than from others.
[00:39:16] Daniel Weiner: What a, well, you should be in sales. What are you doing in brand?
[00:39:18] Well, actually, I, yeah, so, I, I, uh, then I, what I was doing later, I call that, like, conversion marketing. Well, it's also involved marketing. It's just, uh, then making people decide themselves they wanna buy. But I treated every customer that walked in or the not like potential customer as it was my first one during, well, in that day. Uh, because then, like, it doesn't matter how tired I am, like, they are entering the store, so they need to have a great experience. And, uh, also something I noticed about myself is that when, well, there were a lot of like,
[00:40:00] Olga Andrienko: well, sweaters and T-shirts lying around messy. And when we didn't have customers then, like, I went around, like, and I always was folding stuff and then keeping it neat. So, then I realized, and that continues, like, with any job I take, that, like, I care. Well, if, so, founder care is 10 out of 10, but I care 9 out of 10.
[00:40:22] So, I treat it as a, it's my own company.
[00:40:26] Daniel Weiner: That's great. What would your final meal be if you had to choose?
[00:40:30] Olga Andrienko: I would go for caviar.
[00:40:34] Daniel Weiner: For caviar. Fancy. I like you. Olga, you're living the best life ever. You sleep like a baby and you're just eating caviar all the time.
[00:40:41] Olga Andrienko: Well, you said last meal, so I could choose anything. Yeah, it would be grilled lobster and, uh, caviar.
[00:40:48] Daniel Weiner: Okay, now we're getting somewhere. Okay. Lobster and caviar. Perfect. I love it. And then, my final question, actually, I'm gonna press you real quick, and then we'll do the final question.
[00:40:56] What's something that at least you have your, like, that stresses you out a little about the work? Is it, you know, your team or anything like that? Or the economy in that? Like not, I'm, I'm so glad to hear that you are, uh, sleeping well. But what's something that, at least in the business, that you're like, you have your eyes set on that you don't really know where it'll go?
[00:41:13] Olga Andrienko: Well, the recession and we are lucky, like, to, we are at the point now, I would, I would not claim that we, like, we are safe and immune from any changes, but far I feel that we are lucky that our management is, like, taking the decision of, uh, just we are continuing with the, with, like, everybody that I have on my team.
[00:41:38] And then, we are, like we have plan A, plan B, plan C prepared for any,any outcome. But, also, our, like, even Q3 financial report, came really strong. So.
[00:41:52] Daniel Weiner: Good.
[00:41:52] But, yeah, like the next year, it's a lot of uncertainty. So, we have, like, big campaigns also, like, with the big budget planned out. And then, we also, I have smaller, well, ideas and then smaller launches to ensure that we have, like, everything in place.
[00:42:09] And, well, that, that's the, the major thing. And also, we, well, something that keeps me very, very excited also that, uh, I'm, I'm bringing my whole team to Barcelona next week. And so, I'm, I will actually see the, a lot of them for the first time.
[00:42:26] Olga Andrienko: Uh, some are working with me, like, from over two years.
[00:42:30] Like, I've never seen them. So, we have this truly remote, even pre-COVID. So, yeah, so that keeps me, well, very…
[00:42:38] Daniel Weiner: After your, after you've had your wonderful night of sleep, you wake up excited for those things. That's good. Uh, the final question I have for you. Who is somebody who inspires you personally or professionally?
[00:42:50] Olga Andrienko: I really like the posts and the attitude and, and the journey of director of social media of, uh, McDonald's, Guillaume Huin. So, he's been with the company even longer than I've been with the Semrush. So, he is there for, like, for 12 years. And so, he's transforming how also, like he, he's, well, McDonald's has, uh, done some really cool campaigns
[00:43:16] in social media and, uh,
[00:43:19] he's just, he's, has this passion for his, for the brand. Like, I, and he's really like, he's an advocate. So, and the way how he's, has, like, growing, like, his own presence and what he publishes about the company and then, yeah, and the campaigns they're running. So, he inspires me a lot.
[00:43:37] Daniel Weiner: That's awesome. Well, I'm jealous that you sleep, Olga, so well. I do not. I wish I did better, but this was awesome. I really appreciate you coming on, and for everybody who is listening, I presume the best spot for them to find you is on LinkedIn. Is that accurate?
[00:43:50] Olga Andrienko: Yes.
[00:43:51] Daniel Weiner: Awesome. Well, thank you again, and we will talk to you soon.
[00:43:55] Olga Andrienko: Thank you very much.