David Hernandez, Co-founder & Managing Partner of lotus823 tells us how to build a consistent brand presence that drives traffic and sales.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
David Hernandez: We are, like many, exhausted! Simultaneously, we also feel immensely grateful and blessed to be safe, sheltered, and all of us thankfully healthy. We are also cautiously optimistic as the efficacy of the vaccines and increased resources begin to point to dim but visible light at the end of this tunnel.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Lotus823.
David Hernandez: Like many entrepreneurial companies, lotus823 had humble beginnings. We essentially built our brand from scratch. Back in 2010, my wife Allison and I developed the idea of an integrated approach to marketing communications. The new concept was born out of a realization that for brands to gain a competitive advantage and increase market share, they needed to address a major shift in consumer behavior. Brands were no longer discovered in traditional media only; instead, consumers increasingly found and embraced brands through cross-channel experiences in conventional media and searching online.
From the dining room table to the team conference rooms today, we have evolved with the changing business models our clients need. Now a full-service agency, lotus823 combines traditional public relations, progressive content marketing, search engine optimization, social media, and Amazon marketing and website design for fully integrated strategies. This cross-platform approach helps increase brand visibility both online and offline, creating an immersive experience for brands and their publics.
How does Lotus823 innovate?
David Hernandez: Our team of driven, passionate, and talented digital marketing and public relations specialists deliver integrated services that yield measurable results and increase market share. Combining creative genius, smart thinking, and analytical acumen, we assist brands in articulating and defining their individual challenges. We are able to deliver engaging business solutions with our powerful connections across multiple channels.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
David Hernandez: At the beginning of the pandemic, we had to shift strategies appropriately, efficiently, and effectively for most of our clients. In our approach to pivoting our strategy, we have remained focused on being conscious of what both the press and target audiences are interested in at the current moment.
For an audio client whose gear is typically used in the studio or during live performances, we have helped create a Work from Home series, utilizing the best microphones, headphones, and other equipment for the best home office setup. For our homewares clients, we have switched the focus from what would have been spring entertaining and get-togethers to perfecting your baking skills and cooking recipes from scratch.
While businesses are being hit at all angles, many of our clients have been fortunate to stay on and understand the importance marketing can have during this difficult time. We have also seen brands using this downtime to ask us to help work on website projects and SEO optimization.
The main takeaway that we’re seeing is the importance of having flexibility in your overall marketing strategy, whether that be pivoting to hosting virtual events in lieu of trade shows being canceled, or creating modifications to your social ads, having a team that can act quickly and efficiently remains a top priority.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
David Hernandez: We are incredibly lucky to have a great leadership team in place, and we were able to successfully pivot, as I mentioned previously. The bottom line, we were able to keep our team intact and move forward. The ability to adapt and evolve is crucial to an agency that wants to stay ahead.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
David Hernandez: In promoting an open communication environment, our team utilizes a people management solution software called 15Five. With this implementation, managers conduct quarterly reviews that focus on different aspects of employees’ careers, development, and goals. For example, we conduct 360-degree reviews at the end of each quarter. Each employee must complete a self-evaluation, three peer reviews, and an upward review of their direct manager. This continuous practice of feedback and transparency helps form the backbone of 1-on-1’s and optimal performance development.
This platform elevates the performance and engagement of employees by continuously asking questions and starting meaningful conversations. We increase engagement and deepen the connection between employees, managers, and peers by empowering transparency and continuous feedback. Employees can express how they feel, what their current priorities and/or challenges are at the time, offer suggestions, and more. This weekly communication helps us measure overall employee sentiment in a timely manner.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
David Hernandez: Once a prospective client meets with our team, understands our approach as less an agency and more a partner focused on understanding – and achieving – their business goals, we find we don’t have much in the way of competition for our ideal clients.
Your final thoughts?
David Hernandez: If the current pandemic has taught me anything, it’s the importance and value of living in the present. Understanding how little control we truly have and the importance of flexibility and evolving/growing. Change is constant, and we must learn to embrace this and use it to our advantage, not as an obstacle but as an endless opportunity.
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