Content is fire; social media is gasoline.Jay Baer
I think everybody would agree with this quote from Jay Baer. Businesses over the years have seen a major technological transformation. Not only do we have machines to ease the process of production but we also have online platforms to sell our products to a wider audience and with ease. In terms of business ideas and sales, we are in the best of times but it all depends on whether you make use of the arsenal that you have at your immediate disposal.
In the last 10 years, digital marketing has transformed how businesses develop and implement marketing strategy. There was a time when television, print, radio, billboards and direct mail dominated the industry and boosted sales, but now the importance has shifted to reaching consumers through the digital world. The only reason for this is that consumers spend most of their time online and do their shopping from online portals.
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Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell. Businesses need to build digital relationships and reputation before closing a sale. With billions of people using online platforms for leisure and work, having a striking and positive image on these platforms can give a boost to one’s sales. Many are afraid to become innovative and try their hand at social media.They feel it’s a compromise of one’s privacy and are comfortable with the clientele they already possess. However one must take a risk and keep testing, because what works today won’t work tomorrow, but what worked yesterday may work again.
Today, It’s hard to find things that won’t sell online, as long as the presentation and quality remains intact. We live in a world where people are willing to experiment with new products, giving new businesses the opportunity to acquire new customers.
‘Chai is not the limit’ – a very interesting motto which drives one of Goa’s upcoming digital marketing agencies ‘Cutting Chai Creatives’. Catering to a niche audience, we at Goan Insider spoke to Zenelyn Afonso, the founder at ‘Cutting Chai Creatives’. You can find the excerpts of our conversation below.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am Zenelyn Afonso, alumna of Goa Institute of Management (GIM), and founder of Cutting Chai Creatives – a creative marketing agency. Besides this I’m also an avid actor, model, musician, sportswoman and writer who follows her passions. I love whatever I do and I’m always one of those people on a quest to learn something new.
What inspired you to start ‘Cutting Chai Creatives’? What does your brand do?
Sometimes you get the best of ideas when you least expect them. Our business idea came to us when my friends and I were sitting in a café, chilling!
While we were chit-chatting about everything under the sun, we randomly realised that we all have a set of unique skills and experiences that can form a creative marketing agency. Rukma Prabhudesai was a creative writer, ideator and strategist, another close friend a design expert, photographer, videographer and 3D visualiser, and I was experienced in digital marketing. We thought that all these skills form the perfect blend needed to lay the foundation of a full-fledged digital agency. We realised we make a good team and founded Cutting Chai Creatives – a creative marketing agency in January 2020.
How did you come up with your brand name ‘Cutting Chai Creatives’?
One day, when I was hanging out with my close friends at a cafe in Panjim, we had a discussion about Mumbai’s famous cutting chai. Cutting chai is a special tea you find at tiny tea stalls in every nook and corner of Mumbai. It’s speciality is that it’s easy on the pocket, is half a glass but nevertheless is just the right amount and has a strong fusion of flavours to refresh your senses. And that’s exactly what we thought our business was like. We offer brands competitive pricing packages served with just the right blend of quality marketing efforts and strategies to ensure businesses always stay on top of their game. So undoubtedly, we named our start-up, Cutting Chai Creatives, CCC as we like to call it.
Where is your brand based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
Our brand is remotely based out of Goa. We adopted the work-from-home approach much before the pandemic hit where we would collaborate and work remotely as most of our work happened online. We have clients based out of Mumbai and Delhi too with whom we coordinate over the phone or via video calls. So the place where we operate from doesn’t really matter as we are not limited to geographical boundaries.
There are many digital marketing agencies existing in Goa. What makes ‘Cutting Chai Creatives’ unique from them?
Before we launched Cutting Chai Creatives, we had individually helped quite a few of our friends set up their businesses. That’s when we realised that many reputed agencies in Goa charge a hefty amount for digital marketing which start-ups and small enterprises often cannot afford. Hence, we decided to target that niche and came up with a lean business model that would in turn help us offer competitive pricing packages to small and medium sized businesses.
What gets you excited about this company?
This company is a perfect combination of 2 things I like, creative marketing and spending time with my friends. Our core and extended team is mostly made up of my close knit of friends. So our work meetings are never boring. In fact, we don’t even call them work meetings. They are more like a catching up session with our buddies while enjoying work and having fun with whatever we do.
What was your mission at the outset?
We know how important it is to have a mission to start something. However, contrary to what we learnt from our MBA books, we did not draft any mission at the outset and still don’t possess one. However, we have a motto – ‘Chai is not the limit’. Which means we have to go way beyond what we are. Every time we feel like we have achieved something, we say ‘Chai is not the limit’ and we strive to achieve something bigger.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your business?
Due to Covid-19 pandemic, an increasing number of people are switching to online platforms. So it is an advantage for our business. Having said that, during this phase some clients requested a concession, on the other hand, the vendors raised their prices, affecting our margins.
Do you work locally or nationally?
We started off by working with local brands but now we have gradually started to serve national and international brands.
What service(s) do you offer?
Initially we offered core digital marketing services and slowly went on to add more and more co-related services to our portfolio. The services we currently offer include creative ideation, social media marketing, digital marketing, SEO, copywriting, branding & design, web and app design & development, 3D visualisation, animation, printing, photography, videography and even ERP solutions. With our latest client, we have also ventured a bit into traditional marketing mediums.
How do you advertise your business?
We identify potential clients and pitch our work to them. A lot of clients have also approached us through word-of-mouth.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
Clients’ ROI. Clients place a lot of trust in us when they give us the job. We need to make sure that we achieve what we have promised them and live up to their expectations.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
Right from my childhood I have always juggled between a lot of things. So the art of managing multiple activities together comes naturally to me. I don’t think it is hard once you plan ahead and prioritise. I also try not to let behaviours, moods, stress and emotions from work spillover into my personal life and vice-versa. However, in rare cases when everything seems to go off balance, I’m lucky to have my family and friends who step in to guide and help me out.
Where do you see your brand heading in the future?
As I mentioned before, we do not have a mission or vision for our brand. We just follow our motto and see where it takes us.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
There is no routine as such. With a start-up like this, one cannot have a routine. Everyday is different because you learn and adapt as you move forward. Depending on client requirements on some occasions we hardly have much work, whereas on others, we don’t even get time to get a good night’s sleep. Whenever I get free time, I spend it with my family, play the guitar, play any indoor or outdoor sport, learn something new, take up modelling / acting assignments or just relax by watching my favourite shows.
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