Anders is the owner and founder of boxChilli, a digital marketing firm in the UK. We had a chance to talk with Anders about the current state of the digital marketing and web design industries, as well as what he looks for in potential employees.
Tell us a bit about your background. Why did you decide to create boxChilli?
boxChilli was a bit of an accident, to be honest – but a happy and very fulfilling one!
My background was in IT and management consultancy, and I had previously worked at companies such as Orange, Anderson Consulting, and other blue chip organizations. My last role in this industry was Head of IT & Communications at a large electronic manufacturing group who was taken over, and as part of the restructuring I was made redundant (back in the days of no notice!). After that, I was approached by an acquaintance to see if I could help with a digital project which I agreed to work on. One project led to another, and soon I had enough work to keep me busy for a year. That was 14 years ago, and we’ve grown from being just me to a team of 15.
How do you go about getting employees from vastly different occupational backgrounds to work together efficiently and effectively?
I’ve found that the easiest way is really concentrating on picking the right people to employ in the first place; we really focus on the person, not only the skillset. It is imperative that the individual will fit in with the team and be a positive addition (not a disruptive one!).
We strive to create a relaxed but focused working environment; the staff is able to take breaks whenever they need to, play a game of pool, or relax with the company dog Marty. Employees also get 1 “Duvet Day” per month (in addition to their holiday allowance) where they can take a day off on short notice. We are flexible around working hours based on transportation, childcare, and other needs. Our relaxed environment allows for employees to be themselves; they can dress how they want, decorate their desk how they please, and feel comfortable in their surroundings. This brings a calmness and a natural respect for one another.
What skillsets are most in demand in the digital marketing/web design industry right now?
Right now, UX is driving web design and development, and I predict it will continue to do so. The objective will be to get more and more refined research in order to target audience usage.
Within digital marketing, it has to be a broad range of skills rather than a specific focus. So we look for a good core set of skills in SEO and social media and an understanding of the whole marketing process. That being said, the skill most important for us now (and what I predict will be for the future) is SEO.
What non-job-related skills are helpful (or necessary) for someone to have if they want to pursue a career in internet marketing?
Time management and communication are key. You ned to be able to communicate with your team and customers in an efficient and non-technical way.
When you were being offered jobs at blue chip companies, were there any benefits or perks that you frequently tried to negotiate?
Flexible working hours. Often, being expected to be in an office during traditional 9-5 hours doesn’t always fit, especially when systems must be updated or deployed. I worked for one company that even though you were undertaking an overnight deployment – which meant working until 3am – you were still expected to be at your desk at 9am the next day (for the impression it gave to other departments!).
As a company owner, how do you approach someone to whom you have offered a job who wants to negotiate his or her salary?
If they can prove to me that they are worth more money over what is being offered, then they will get it – but not right away. They’ll get what’s been offered as a starting salary with pay raise increments over a period of time. There are a lot of people out there who have limited experience but have unrealistic initial salary expectations.
Once you have hired a talented employee, what steps do you take to keep him or her from jumping ship for another company?
There’s only so much you can do. If someone has made their mind up to go, or are purely going for monetary reasons, then I’d let them go. If money is their only driving factor, then they at some point are going to leave anyway. We always try to look after staff not only salary-wise but in other areas as well, such as bike to work schemes, paying for driving lessons, training, and so on.
What do you anticipate for the future of internet marketing, and what will companies (and their staff) have to do in order to succeed?
It’s my belief that agencies will morph (as we have) into providing the full spectrum of marketing activities so that a full spread of activities can be provided for any marketing campaign. As a result, staff will need to develop skills across a range of media and become cross-functional.
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