We talked to Sari Kazma of Dice Marketing & Advertising about resilience and seeing the glass half full, and this is what he had to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sari Kazma: Thank you for asking. Well, we are doing just great, but let’s face it, these are unprecedented times for everyone. Being extremely precautious, wearing masks at all times, and staying safe is a top priority right now.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Dice Marketing & Advertising.
Sari Kazma: After graduating from the Lebanese American University in Lebanon, I began my career in the FMCG industry at NAPCO Group in Riyadh, where I was responsible for the tissue line. One year later, I joined a marketing & advertising agency for two years before co-founding Dice Marketing & Advertising, a turning point in my entrepreneurial journey.
Our agency came to life 8 years ago, starting out with just three employees, located on a second-floor rental from one of my friends, and thanks to hard work and commitment, we started to sign on international industry leaders as clients like HPI, HPE, Schneider Electric and many more. Dice originally started out as an Events, Activations & Branding agency.
Today, we have many international and local clients, and some of our first customers who reached out to us when we were only starting out as a business continue to work with us today, which is amazing. Three years ago, we opened a new branch in Beirut, with more than 9 employees in Beirut alone!
How does Dice Marketing & Advertising innovate?
Sari Kazma: We are a bunch of creative marketers who love what we do. Marketing is about consistently seeing the bigger picture, being innovative by being open to new input, and continually keeping up with the newest market trends. We are a solution-driven business with a focus on satisfying clients and their customers’ needs in the best possible way.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business, and how are you coping?
Sari Kazma: Covid 19 has affected everyone, whether on a personal or professional level. Our two major concerns were first to keep up the team’s engagement and pursued motivation, and second to ensure the business continued to move swiftly within the shift to virtual operations.
The team was quickly enabled with the right technologies, training, and support. We engaged in weekly calls, competitions, and internal activities to certify the remote working didn’t lead to isolation, as we believe the work is the outcome of our hidden soldiers.
We entered the digital market three years ago and created a new sub-agency for digital work (SBOON), which in hindsight, turned out to be a great decision. This prepared us in the best possible way for the new digitalized era of working together. We even signed on new clients during the pandemic!
On the other hand, we have turned some of our client’s physical events into virtual ones as most of the events are turning virtual. Saudi Arabia Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) is one of our clients, and recently we have done an amazing virtual event for them; feel free to check it here.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Sari Kazma: I make difficult decisions every single day, and that’s a necessary prerequisite for building a solid basis for growth. Something I have learnt over the years when it comes to taking important business-related decisions is never to lose sight of the global perspective whilst always respecting our core values.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Dice Marketing & Advertising in the future?
Sari Kazma: Since day one of founding Dice, stress was omnipresent, but you know, since I love this business, one just deals with it upfront. In the end, there is always a solution to every problem. I never see half-empty glasses.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Sari Kazma: There are plenty of marketing agencies out there, but the key in our field of work is to understand what it is that makes you unique and sets you apart from the competitors. We excel in creativity, and it is this that keeps us ahead of the game.
Your final thoughts?
Sari Kazma: If I would have to name one positive aspect that has come out of these challenging times with the pandemic, it is that Dice has proven to be resilient as a company thanks to its strong business model and aptitude for innovation. With today’s new hybrid work environment, Dice as a company has shown to be extraordinarily adaptive and quickly offered photography and videography services to meet client’s business needs in creating captivating and compelling content. We already foresaw the potential need for digital services in 2018 and continued to expand and build on an already solid basis. Of course, social media also helped cross-communication boundaries, and the growing followers speak for themselves. In short, Dice is a hub for creativity and innovation that is very much on course to reach new heights.
We look forward to seeing what the future will bring, and I am confident that with the best team that anyone can wish for, we will continue to grow and expand to new locations soon!