Digital businesses nowadays are dependent on social media marketing and SaaS tools. They both provide a vital base for online business and help it stand firm in a competitive landscape. Two such platforms that could help you achieve maximum results in the marketing domain are IMPACT! and MarTech Wise, launched by Donald Chan.
Donald Chan is a founder and Head of business of IMPACT! and MarTech Wise. Both of his startups have been performing tremendously well, helping brands create a solid social media presence.
IMPACT! is a social media marketing agency with premium services, while MarTech Wise is dedicated to SaaS tools, reviews, and leading technology information, helping brands make better decisions. Let’s find out how Donald kept the foundation of these platforms and how he’s doing nowadays.
Ashmal: Hi Donald, it’s lovely to have you with us! It would be great if you could start by telling our readers about your background?
Donald: Thank you for inviting me for this interview. I’ve been in the marketing agency business for close to 20 years now. For the first 10 years of my career, I worked at various local and international ad agencies, handling retail, property, financial services, and public sector clients.
After that, I started my current marketing agency, IMPACT! Brand Communications, which focuses on providing digital marketing services for the B2B, Technology, Financial Services, and Healthcare sectors. It’s been an incredible journey so far, and we’ve been constantly evolving over the years to serve our clients better.
Today, we have more than 20 staff members based in Singapore and Southeast Asia, working with a range of SME and enterprise clients.
In terms of services, we offer Digital Strategy, Web Design, Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media, Video Production, Paid Media, Marketing Automation, and ABM (Account-Based Marketing). Our planning team will work with clients to determine the ideal mix for their marketing and business objectives.
Ashmal: We first met on Facebook, and then I came to know about your incredible journey. You started as a Business Development Specialist and then deep dive into the more technical parts on how to grow and streamline the business processes, right? Could you please tell us about your transition and more about your journey in detail?
Donald: I was fortunate that I had gained experience in the first 10 years of my agency career across business development, client management, and creative fulfillment. This set me up nicely for the second part of my career when I started IMPACT.
Even though I already had experience in all areas of running a marketing agency, there was still a lot to learn in terms of running a business. I also had to learn and update my technical knowledge and skillsets constantly since digital marketing strategies, platforms, and trends are constantly changing.
Ashmal: Life is all about ups and downs; what were the challenges you faced at the early ages of your journey? And, how did you overcome them?
Donald: I think that during the first 2 years of our life as an agency, we were somewhat figuring out what we wanted to do. We started life as a creative agency but quickly realized that we weren’t differentiated enough and had no distinct advantage in positioning and expertise.
So I decided to evolve IMPACT into a digital marketing agency for B2B and Technology brands, building on our clientele at the time. This allowed us to gain more traction, but we’ve also had to learn, adapt and refine what we continually do.
Ashmal: You’re the Founder & Head of Business at two different ventures Impact & MarTech Wise. Please tell our audience about both of these ventures and what are your aims and objectives?
Donald: With IMPACT, it was straightforward as I was essentially transiting from running marketing agencies for other people to starting my own. The main challenge was figuring out what we wanted it to be all about and making sure we got better each and every year.
With MarTech Wise, I started it as a way to solve our own problems. During IMPACT’s transition from a creative agency to a specialist digital marketing agency, I had to learn everything from scratch – web design, content, SEO, social, paid media, email marketing, and more.
So we did all the usual stuff, such as doing our online research, asking questions in forums, and seeking advice from those more experienced. But the information we gleaned was always a mixed bag. Some were useful, some confusing, and some just plain misguided.
Nonetheless, we managed to find our way in the end and transformed ourselves into a full-service digital marketing agency, which is IMPACT.
Along the way, I started and built up my own online community to share and exchange knowledge on marketing strategies and tools. That became MarTech Wise, and since then, we’ve been trying to make it an excellent resource for those looking to grow their business online or to grow their online business.
Ashmal: In your opinion, what’s the importance of community marketing, and how should one lead this function for their startups?
Donald: From our own experience building up MarTech Wise, we can see that it can be a very powerful platform and a way to differentiate your startup from competitors. Your community can be your sounding board and your best support if you treat them right.
I think the best way to go about it is to build a community without too many preconceived notions of what it should be like or what’s the ROI. You need to listen to your community and build something that makes sense – what the members like and enjoy and what’s good for your business or startup.
Ashmal: Being a Founder, what tools do you use daily, and how do you track your day-to-day activities?
Donald: According to my team, I use way too many tools! But what would you expect from someone that runs a community focused on growth marketing tools 😉
For our workspace, we use both Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, but we’ve more or less embraced Microsoft Teams (together with OneDrive and SharePoint) as our leading digital workspace platform. When it comes to running our agency, we’ve gone all-in with ClickUp for our project management tool. We also use Filestage a lot for creative approvals.
On the digital marketing front, we use a range of platforms such as Hubspot and SharpSpring. For web design and building, we use WordPress, Elementor, Gutenberg, and Cloudways (for hosting). For our enterprise clients, we’re getting more involved in using Marketo and Salesforce (that’s the preferred tech stack for most enterprise clients we see).
Ashmal: What’s your most successful growth hacking strategy?
Donald: I would say that a combination of SEO, content marketing, LinkedIn, social community building, and podcasting. With SEO and content marketing, I think the benefits are clear enough, but it takes time and resources to ramp up properly.
LinkedIn, social community building and podcasting help us – as a B2B digital marketing agency – with building influence and relationships at scale. I think this is something that many startups will need to look into as we see most traditional digital marketing channels getting increasingly crowded.
Ashmal: Please share some learning materials or guide that you follow for learning and practicing to become a better version of yourself.
Donald: These days, I mostly watch YouTube, listen to podcasts or learn from my peers on LinkedIn for my learning. I have my curated list of places that I constantly check out, but they are primarily concerned with more technical aspects of my work, such as B2B marketing, content, SEO, marketing automation, and LinkedIn.
Some of the podcasts I have been consistently listening to over the years include the Tropical MBA podcast and the Build A Better Agency podcast.
Ashmal: What are your future plans? Are you planning to work on any other venture? If yes, what is it all about?
Donald: For 2022, we’re just looking to focus on our current businesses, trying to get them to perform better and be less dependent on the founder (that’s me). I’m starting a new podcast for my industry in the last quarter of 2022. I’m also blogging about remote work on my personal blog.
Ashmal: What’s the biggest motivation in your life?
Donald: I would say it’s my family and making sure I provide a good life for them. I think the other aspect of it – which is part of my character – is just to keep trying to keep evolving and becoming better at the things we commit to ourselves.
Ashmal: Please share your professional pro-tips about SaaS products with our readers?
Donald: I think it’s helpful to start with popular SaaS tech stacks recommended by others. But you have to understand what works for your business at that current point in time. A case in point is ClickUp.
I tried it many times throughout our agency timeline and always kept dropping it. I think it was a case of the tool being too complex for us at the time and myself not liking some of the ways it worked.
But eventually, we adopted ClickUp in full when our agency reached a certain degree of complexity and maturity that required a greater need for visibility, accountability, and handover between departments.
Over time, the tool had also matured to something that we were comfortable with. Coupled with a few killer unique features – their integration with Outlook and Microsoft 365 – we plan to stick with them for a long time.
Ashmal: It’s time for rapid-fire!
Rapid Fire Round
|Product Management or Product Marketing||Product Marketing 😊|
|Tea or Coffee?||Coffee ☕|
|LinkedIn or Twitter||LinkedIn for the networking 🤝|
|Traveling or Watching a Movie||Honestly, both!|
Ashmal: Apart from work, how do you spend the rest of your day? Also, please share an image of your workstation or favorite memories. (If possible)
And that’s a wrap-up! We are thankful to Donald Chan for his precious time and sharing his detailed experiences with our champ audience.