Welcome to our founder lessons series.
After watching the PR industry change as a reaction to the decline of publications and increase in free online content, Anu Ramani launched her own marketing business, Isoline Communications, specialising in savvy storytelling for tech and B2B brands. Anu is actively growing her team and they have recently moved into a new office in London.
A brief summary of your startup
Isoline Communications provides content marketing services for technology and business-to-business companies. Our approach involves extensive research and immersion into our clients’ offerings and business – you won’t find superficial or half-hearted campaigns here! Using our industry knowledge and experience, we offer not only content development and marketing services but also a proactive, strategic marketing partnership for the long term.
Why and how it was started
I started the company in 2015 to fill a gap I saw in the market for specialised content marketing for the tech B2B and telecoms B2B sectors. In the face of transformational technological developments like blockchain and IoT, I saw an opportunity to share my knowledge and experience in an exciting and quickly growing sector of the industry. Since then we’ve been growing and expanding the company to meet the needs of our clients.
What has been the biggest success factors
So many details need to come together to create a successful business. There are a myriad of daily challenges when you are getting things up and running but then things start to flow. The biggest success factor I can pinpoint is differentiating your offer.
There are many PR firms who claim to do content marketing or digital marketing out there. There are also many generalist B2B marketing firms. But having a genuine specialisation in a particular sector has made clients aware of the value we provide, by understanding the needs of their industry and their specific needs within that industry.
The next factor, I would say is a relentless focus on excellence. In our case for example, we meet with the client and get a feel for the scope and details of our assignment, we research thoroughly, dig deep and brainstorm, then collaborate and co-create with a rigorous internal approval process, to deliver campaigns we are proud of.
We take pride in every piece of content we deliver. And lastly, I focused on creating a company that provides an inviting work environment that I am excited to go to each day – we provide flexible and remote working, and our physical office is collaborative, fun and dog-friendly.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced launching and running the company
I had formulated the idea for my company but dithered for ages wondering if I could actually make it happen. Starting out on your own you really need the confidence and self-belief to get the ball rolling. The most difficult aspect of business for me has always been administration.
I knew it was in my best interest to get help early on this so I could focus on growth. I think this is an important realisation, it’s necessary to have support in place from the beginning even if you think you should be able to handle everything on your own.
The next hurdle was getting the right talent onboard which is such a challenge even today because content marketing is not as scalable as PR or social marketing.
One of the success factors that I mentioned previously was choosing my very specific niche, which also proved to be a challenge because it’s tremendously hard to find people who have that specific skill set. As we continue to grow, a large part of my job is finding new people that will add value to our team.
Which do you think is most important: the right market, the right product, or the right team?
The 3 Ps are all important you need the right mixture of place, product and people to reach your goals in any industry. In terms of place and product, in my case, I think we have been able to get interest because we have such a narrow focus of expertise and address a very specific market. But the flip side of that is that it’s tremendously challenging to find people who have the skill set we require.
Final words for those chasing the start-up dream
Take small steps – focussing too much on the big picture things can be a bit daunting. If you break down everything that you need to do into manageable tasks, you’ll be able to focus on getting each done.
Focus on your strengths and hire the smartest people you can find to support you. Ask for help – believe me, everyone needs help and advice when venturing out on their own.
Reach out to anyone trustworthy for advice and guidance: bosses, colleagues, clients, suppliers, they can be anyone. Don’t be afraid to change your mind –working and reworking an idea leads to the best results.
And lastly, push for excellence – creating your own company is not small job, it’s going to take everything you’ve got, but any job worth doing is worth doing well.