First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Dr. Paul Guenther: Thank you for asking. We are all doing quite well, considering everything. We’ve very fortunate to have stayed healthy during the pandemic. We’re also very lucky in that none of us has lost our jobs or income.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Knowledge Hub Media.
Dr. Paul Guenther: I started out working in outside advertising sales for a Delaware’s largest newspaper – The News Journal. I had worked in sales before, but this particular job really got me into the swing of things in terms of cold calling, face to face meetings and “pounding the pavement.” More importantly, it got me interested in marketing and advertising. Everything about it – from the imagery in the ads, to the messages that they conveyed, and of course, their overall effectiveness. From there, I worked a couple of additional jobs in sales/marketing roles – both B2B focused – and eventually decided to start my own company. In 2009, I quit my job and went out on my own to start “IT Knowledge Hub,” which is now known as Knowledge Hub Media.
How does Knowledge Hub Media innovate?
Dr. Paul Guenther: We innovate in the realm of advanced metrics and data analytics. Since January of 2019, we have been running our own internal B2B intent data analytics operation. We study user behavior – the content that they consume, the white papers that they download, the links that they click – to determine which companies are most likely to be researching specific products, services and solutions… From there, we can actually determine which companies are in the buying cycle for said products/services/solutions. This benefits our clients because instead of targeting the entire universe of companies that fir their ideal buyer criteria, we can focus on the ones that we know is researching, actually interested in what they’re selling and ready to buy.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Dr. Paul Guenther: The pandemic has certainly affected us in that we lost some of our key buyers. A few of our regular, long time clients, who immediately put a freeze on and/or reduced their ad spend back in March. That was big. But fortunately, we were a lot luckier than most of the companies out there. Though we saw a decrease, COVID-19 did not have that tremendous an effect on top-line revenue. Better yet, we didn’t have to cut anybody’s hours or layoff any employees. It also helped that we were already a remote company – about 50% of the time (everyone who works for us). So, the rather immediate switch from 50% remote to 100% remote wasn’t that strenuous for us. If I’m being honest, it was rather seamless. I truly felt bad – and still feel bad – for companies that did not already have remote workforce policies in place… Even worse for those in industries where remote work just isn’t possible, like Restaurants, Hospitality, Travel and Retail. But it’s all going to bounce back. I mean we’re definitely getting there… Like many others, I’m hopeful and confident that a vaccine is on the horizon.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Dr. Paul Guenther: We were fortunate enough not to have to make many difficult decisions. Mostly because we were already about 50% remote at the time and that we sell to companies in the software and technology industry. We’re very lucky that for most of those companies, demand for their products and solutions didn’t see much of a decrease. Though some certainly did. Some a lot more than others.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Knowledge Hub Media in the future?
Dr. Paul Guenther: I deal with stress by working. I like working because I like what I do… That, and probably more so because it’s my company. It’s on me if we don’t perform, and it’s on me to ensure that nobody is ever laid off… That we never have to shut the doors. While the workday is often stressful, working late at night is a Zen place for me. There’s nobody else awake to email me, call me, distract me from what I’m doing. I’m 100% focused on the tasks at hand.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Dr. Paul Guenther: Our competitors are other B2B publishers and B2B media companies. The strange thing in this industry, though, is that competitors can oftentimes become your clients. You are all working to achieve the same goal when it comes to content syndication and demand generation. You’re all held to the same level of excellence and the same deadlines. For that reason, I don’t look at any of our competitors in a negative light.
Your final thoughts?
Dr. Paul Guenther: I noticed that the main theme of this interview centered around COVID-19 (and rightfully so). To that point, the pandemic has taken a toll on all of us. Some physically, mentally or emotionally, some all three. It’s a difficult time right now, for everyone. Illness, financial strife, lockdowns and isolation have combined to impact just about everyone – myself included. But it’s important to remember that it’s only temporary. Like past pandemics, wars, recessions, and depressions… It won’t last forever. Every day that we work through brings us one day closer to putting this all behind us.