First published in New Zealand Herald 2 June 2015
It can be incredibly hard to simplify. And for most businesses the temptation to weave an epic tale of complex technology and twinkly features is too great. At the receiving end of these cumbersome explanations sits the consumer of this technology (and the finance person who signs off on the purchase).
The long-winded explanations don’t make a business sound more knowledgeable. Instead they leave an audience confused and more likely to come to their own conclusions, which may be a lot less favourable.
One of the companies I got talking to was 90 Seconds. Founded in Wellington in 2010, it is a cloud-based video production company. They have a core management team dotted around the world that wins the business and then brings in suitable contributors from a 3500-strong freelancer pool to create the work.
The company was founded by serial entrepreneur Tim Norton, who – as CEO – continues to have hands-on involvement in the business across their multiple international markets.
There are a couple of reasons why I’m interested in their business.
First, a lot my clients and a lot of Australian companies in general use video content much more frequently and in a much better way than before. Second, it’s a perfect example of how our working lives have changed in the last decade.
Freelancers, micro businesses and virtual global teams are relatively mainstream. From banks to retailers to not-for-profits – Australian businesses are open to working with teams across different business models, as long as there’s substance behind the curtains.
90 Seconds established a UK office in 2011 and moved into Sydney, Singapore and Tokyo three years later. They have an impressive roster of Australian clients that includes Big W, eBay, Tabcorp, Uber, Rio Tinto, BHP and Fairfax.
Their work for Paypal global sums up what I think they may do best: pull together and coordinate an international video shoot on the same weekend in 12 global cities over 4 continents without paying for a single flight. For global brands it’s a pretty compelling value proposition, especially if you can produce high quality works consistently at a competitive price.
The work quality is endorsed by a rating system clients give after production, as well as a vetting process that 90 Seconds HQ runs for all freelancers. The pricing is competitive because a pool of talent in the thousands means budgets of all shapes and sizes can be matched to a freelancer anywhere in the world.
But most importantly, after speaking with former Australian GM (now Growth Director) Dave Insull, new Australian GM Daniel Littlepage and Melbourne Growth Director Nick Teulon, it’s pretty clear that making sales is a real strength in this business.
Insull, who has been with the company from the start says the team had been servicing Australia from New Zealand for several years when they decided exporting him to Australia would not impact the New Zealand business.
“The plan was to get $1 million revenue, build a team, repeat the local market set up with the intention of hiring myself out of a job,” he says. “Twelve months to the day later, we achieved revenue target and will shortly relocate to a new Pyrmont office overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge.”
A very strong business at the core is what Insull believes sets them apart, and being in a global headspace since inception.
The business has a replicable model for their subsidiaries in local markets, with a talent pipeline driven from a global talent manager based in Singapore.
Each team has a GM, success managers (production managers who deliver video), growth managers (sales team) and content directors (who straddle sales and production, are client facing, experienced with building content strategies and selling in work and an ability to deliver).
“We were speaking to an NZTE rep recently and quizzed her about companies breaking into Australia,” says Insull. “We asked what the biggest issue Kiwi companies need to work on and she said sales, sales, sales. We have focused on sales since day one, to fund our growth and to confirm our direction. With our focus on sales and building the business one client at a time, and great customer service & end product, that’s what has brought us success in this market.”
There’s something else Insull mentioned that made clear these guys know their business. He mentioned that the company recently reviewed the whole Australian market, segmented the value of each industry and reviewed how much content is created in each space.
They identified a number of key segments worth targeting that include not-for-profit, retail, technology, government, education, banking & finance and advertising agencies. Not a small list.
But now they have a marketing strategy that includes speaking to decision makers on camera at the right events, using their own created content and therefore showcasing exactly what it is they do best.
Sounds like a plan to me.