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Altex Marketing is Restructuring – BIG changes

Background

These are exciting and challenging times in the internet marketing industry, especially here in Estonia.

The recession and the very real threat of a double dip (are we witnessing “dead cats bouncing” now?) in the, US, UK and other European markets means all internet marketing agencies should take precautionary steps as many clients are likely to be negatively affected and also identify how the recession affects demand for our services.

More positively the recession actually seems to be enhancing growth in internet usage – the trend has been upwards for years but in some areas it is booming we feel.

If internet usage continues to climb, and we see no reason why it would not, then logically, demand for internet marketing services will grow too.

And then there is the competitive landscape. In Estonia altex sees far more, and better, competitors now than just one year ago. Other agencies are becoming more experienced with every day that passes and every day new, clever, people are entering our industry from traditional media sector companies.

It has also been reported in Estonian media that Estonian businesses need to improve their efficiency, focus more on skills and knowledge management and development of tech related services.
We could not agree more and we aim to be there with cost effective services that can add real value and measurable results for our clients.

Taking into consideration these and other factors altex is changing, significantly, to better serve its clients and shareholders – we must become leaner, stronger and faster if we are to maintain or improve our position in the market place.

Altex grew in 2009 and remained profitable but there is no place for complacency now, our restructuring is proactive, not reactive.

Some bold decisions have been made and more will follow.

The process will take about one year, it started last year with the decision to hire an experienced digital Project Manager to improve our processes for managing both internal and client projects. Since Andri Viiand took up the role the altex board has had time to focus on the restructuring plans.

Here are some of the key decisions we have made:

New Management

I am stepping aside as MD and handing control of the company to Tõnis Hinnosaar and Andri Viiand – they will become joint Managing Directors in the near future

Tõnis has been the rock of altex and my right hand man for quite some time now and understands more about our services than anyone else. He is also diplomatic, hard working and very productive.

Andri brings strong project management skills and an unflappable nature derived from essentially running the digital show at Estonia’s largest company, Eesti Energia, for several years.

I will be Director of Client Services Development (focusing on creating value for new and existing clients plus developing our strategic partnerships.)
I will remain the main Chairman of the Board and the majority shareholder for the foreseeable future.

There are other changes.

People
Some personnel changes are happening during the restructuring and new positions will open – we are looking for two new people right now.

Google Adwords Campaign Manager – If you are a Certified Google Adwords Professional and want to work at Estonia’s first Google Qualified Company then get in touch.

Sales Person – Altex has high visibility and is widely recognised as a leading internet marketing agency but we have never focused on active selling. That will change. We need an experienced, mature sales person to take advantage of our reputation and contacts to open more doors and close more deals. Again get in touch if this interests you.

Products and Services

Altex has developed too many! and as a result we have lacked the time to develop and market all of them properly – many people are unaware of the full range of services we offer and that’s down to us not communicating them effectively enough. In 2010 we will be narrowing our focus and improving our communications.

One of the first cuts is www.epostel.eu (email marketing software).

Why?
We spotted a gap in the market for better email marketing software and introduced Epostel. It’s a good product, however at around the same time Sendsmaily also entered the market. We do not believe there is room for two and also we feel that Sendsmaily is an excellent product and cheaper than Epostel too. In business sometimes you have to know when to quit. We will shut it down in Estonia and offer our Estonian Epostel clients to migrate to Sendsmaily and recommend it to future clients. We will also use Sendsmaily for our own needs and partner with them on client projects where appropriate.

NOTE: We are still offering email marketing strategy, consultancy, design and campaigns – just not the software.

Spindo Club will continue and more energy will be placed on that.

New tools & services for helping search and social media marketers have been developed at altex and we will be releasing them in the coming months.

Obviously the recent news about our new status as Estonia’s first Google Adwords Qualified Company shows our commitment to developing paid search marketing services – with a special focus on multilingual Google campaigns in all EU countries.

Trainings and Events

We will continue with both but the formats and content will be enhanced to add even more practical and actionable value. It is our intention to internationalise events – we have one major international event project underway…watch this space.

Mergers, acquisitions etc.

Over the past year we have acquired a stake in Velvet Creative Alliance, sold our stake in Trinidad Consulting and are in the process of selling our stake in UK company Mediadash.

We are currently negotiating to take stakes in other internet marketing companies who we think have strong growth potential.

Our day-to day focus is 100% on altex and ensuring our “membership” of the Velvet Creative Alliance is fruitful for both sides by bringing additional value and options to our respective clients. We are already seeing benefits for both sides.

Altex Ownership

In essence, I believe that altex’s success has largely come from Estonian people (our staff) working for Estonian people (our clients) and therefore it seems morally right that the company should ultimately be Estonian owned and run in order to achieve its full potential.

Currently a number of altex staff do own shares and VCA own a stake too.

I will be looking at divesting more shares to people inside and outside of altex with the end goal of making altex majority owned by active Estonian stakeholders in altex’s success.

If you are interested in buying a stake in altex then get in touch.

One thing that won’t change: altex will continue to share its knowledge and help drive our industry forward.

I could say more but I think that’s enough for now.

Love to hear your comments.

Robin Gurney
Altex Boss “for a little while longer”
robin@altex.ee

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There are 5 comments .

Larko

You certainly put up a big portion onto our plates which must be digested in due course 🙂

My first reaction is that I tend to agree that these measures are proactive rather than reactive. It is arguable whether dead cats are already bouncing or if it is yet to come. In either case your analysis of the market sounds reasonable.

You certainly took me and presumably many others by surprise which was no doubt your intention 🙂

Reply »
Robin Gurney

hei Larko,
Did not really plan to surprise exactly, more like being transparent and sharing so people know where we stand and where we goin’.
But I guess it has raised a few eyebrows.
Let’s call it business strategy innovation or would that be too arrogant?

A few other comments I have received via other channels:
Beautiful moves at altex. Respect

Congrats.

That’s some pretty big steps, sounds like you’re heading in new directions and focusing. In the middle of going through the same process at (name removed), too. Been doing too much, but having difficulty working out what to drop!

You seem to have had time to make extensive plans during your travels….

..big news indeed Altex Boss “for a little while longer” 😀

Altex out-of-beta 🙂 (my favourite so far)

Reply »
andris

Congrats for the Google Qualified Company certification – it was about time we had companies with some kind of major objective recognition in the internet marketing field in Estonia, not just shady snaik-oil businesses. Actually you guys should be quite pleased anyway – your’e in the winning side, since internet marketing is undeniably pointed towards the future not defending it’s positions and trying to stay in the past like some other similar industries. If I had some spare money, I’d definitely invest in you!

Reply »
Larko

Robin, I do absolutely want to give you credit for transparency and sharing. Which has been a part of Altex all along the road, of course. And no, it would not be too arrogant 🙂

Reply »
Robin Gurney

Thanks Andris and thanks (again) Larko

Reply »

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