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Meet  Nicolas Rabouille – The Growth of Web Marketing Agencies since Covid-19.

Today we have selected Nicolas Rabouille to take his interview. He is the CIO & Co-founder Of Rablab.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

Pretty great actually, even though it is hard on the social aspect, we make sure to do virtual happy hours and games so we can stay connected.  Some people had a hard time switching to 100% remote work, but for most of us, it really opened our minds about work from home.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?

I used to work in a newspaper printing factory.  I was doing 3x 12hrs shifts every week and had lots of time off.  From a young age, I knew I wanted to start my own business.  So for 7 years, my main focus on days off was to ”skill up” and find a business idea.  I tried many business models without any success.  Most of them were ”web-oriented”, so I taught myself programming skills, SEO, and paid ads.  I created a bunch of affiliate marketing blogs and websites.  Eventually, I was confident enough just to sell my coding and SEO skills.

The printing factory I was working at eventually shut down.  I decided to create a website and do SEO full-time.  I quickly came to the realization that I was good at what I was doing, but had no actual selling skills.  I partnered up with Jean-Philippe Dauphinais to take care of the sales.  I’ve never seen such a good hunter/salesman, within the first month, we sold for 10k worth of websites/projects and started from there.

Within 6 months, we made over 80k and had 2 employees.

My partner and I made a 25k yearly salary for the first 2 years to reinject all our profit in growth, and it was hard on the personal side (I racked up to 20k in debt), and our employees were making 45k-50k while we were making half of their salary.

5 years later, we’re 25 full-time employees with insurance and all kinds of benefits, and we can finally pay ourselves a decent salary.

How does your company innovate?

I would lie if I said that we innovate, I mean, we run Google ads, Facebook Ads, and SEO campaigns.  That being said, when we hire new employees, they’re blown-away (in a good way) by all our processes and how we manage the business.  We basically manage this business like we had 200 employees.

It’s all about having the right tools and letting no stones unturned.

How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

At first, it was scary.  We lost about 40% of our monthly recurring business.  We had to cut every expense to the minimum, my partners and I stopped giving ourselves salary and we had to cut a day of work for everyone to make sure we don’t fire anybody.  Then businesses started to realize how important the web is important and that they should massively invest online.  Most of our e-commerce clients had an amazing year, doing a year’s worth of revenue in 2 or 3 months.  The pandemic ended up bringing a lot of demand and we grew 6 employees since then.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

Some employees were unable to make the work from the home switch.  They missed deadlines, couldn’t organize properly, and had too many distractions. We lost some clients because of that and we had to fire them.  They would probably still be with us today if the pandemic didn’t happen.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

At the beginning of the pandemic, we were doing daily meetings to make sure that everyone was up to date.  No one knew what to expect, the government shut down the country pretty quickly here in Canada and no one knew how to react.

Having more than needed communication was key to get through the crisis and employees were really grateful about that.

As for the tools, we did like everyone, we used Google Meets, Slack, and our project management software.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

There are a lot of competitors in web marketing, but we managed to get a pretty good reputation and brand awareness in Montreal, we are top of mind for a bunch of prospective clients in mid-size businesses.

Facebook and Google are always making it easier and easier to manage campaigns with their tools and AI.  So it is getting easy for ”the average joe” to claim to be an expert.  We focus on providing an omnichannel strategy and make sure that every dollar is spent efficiently.  Our processes and human approach are also a plus value to the service we offer.

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