Peter Csemez of paravan interactive tells us about online marketing and the Covid-19 pandemic.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Peter Csemez: My family and I are doing great in these times. We spend a lot of time together as I’m working from home right now. Of course, there is some shouting and more TV involved as before Covid but generally speaking, I think that we are handling this situation quite well. Luckily our kids are not in the school-age, so we don’t have to deal with homeschooling.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded paravan interactive.
Peter Csemez: I came into digital marketing back in 2000. A friend of mine told me that he was bringing to Slovakia a big international e-advertising network (ad pepper media) and asked me if I want to join. I was a big fan of marketing, and it was a dream of mine to work in advertising. The temptation of something completely new was much stronger for me than a stable job at Orange. So I decided to leave Orange and join ad pepper. It’s something that I don’t regret. In 2003 I got the opportunity to run the agency and later on became the sole owner of the agency. In 2010 I did my Masters in Digital Marketing at the IE Business School. At that time, I was the only person in the Czech Republic and Slovakia with this kind of Master’s degree.
How does paravan interactive innovate?
Peter Csemez: We are not early adopters of new technologies, but we like to use proven things that improve communication, processes, etc.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Peter Csemez: Our revenue dropped by 30% last year, and right now, we are at 40 – 50% of what we were doing last year. We are currently busy doing a lot of proposals for potential clients, so I think and hope that the business is getting back to its usual pace.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Peter Csemez: I had to cut salaries and the headcount. 30% of the staff had to go, but luckily these people were leaving on their own request, so they were just switching companies, so it didn’t have any catastrophic impact on them. For me, the main lesson learned is not to leave difficult decisions to the very last moment. It cost’s a lot of nerve and money.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Peter Csemez: We are a small agency, and we like to have personal contact with our clients. Therefore our main relationship management tools are direct contact, phone, and email. The pandemic has forced us to move from physical space into virtual space overnight. We are working remotely since March 2020. To work remotely has some issues, especially when people have to cooperate with a client, but overall I think that we didn’t have any big issues with our switch to the virtual environment.
The main tools that we use are Slack and Goggle Workspace.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Peter Csemez: We are getting some grants, but it’s just a fraction of what would really help us. I’m grateful for that, but it could be much better and much quicker. The government is very slow in sending money.
Your final thoughts?
Peter Csemez: I’m really looking towards sitting down at a restaurant for a beautiful meal and then having a great coffee at one of my favorite coffee places.
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