Digital Marketing

Expert Insights on Marketing Communications; Interview With Diana Akchurina, Founder of Easy Communications.

Expert Insights on Marketing Communications

We live in a fast-changing world where making a year-long marketing plan is a luxury. Plans need to be reassessed every quarter or even every month. Additionally, the rapid development of AI tools means marketers must rely on soft skills to stay ahead. Compounding this challenge, many companies are cutting their marketing budgets. We spoke with Diana Akchurina to learn about effective strategies for raising brand awareness and generating leads on a tight budget, and to understand what marketers should do to succeed in their roles.

Please tell us a little more about yourself.

My name is Diana Akchurina, and I have 17 years of experience in business development and organic marketing communications, including social media marketing, public relations, content management, partnership marketing, and influencer marketing. Organic marketing communications refer to strategies used to promote a brand, product, or service through non-paid methods. In 2016, I founded Easy Communications, focusing on brand awareness and lead generation for technology companies such as Plantronics, Infinidat, OneMob, and SteelSeries.

I also serve as a judge for The International Business Awards and The 2024 Stevie Awards for Technology Excellence. Additionally, I am a proud member of the Guild of Marketers and a mentor for Women in Tech, Technovation Girls, and ADPList. These roles allow me to share my passion for technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

What unique services do you provide at Easy Communications, and what makes you an expert in marketing communications?

At Easy Communications, we specialize in organic marketing communications. These methods focus on creating genuine connections and providing value to the audience without relying on paid advertising. Our key differentiator is our ability to raise brand awareness and attract leads without large marketing budgets. We discover creative solutions and unique aspects in each client to develop an effective communication strategy. 

The recent introduction of a humor category at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity highlights the importance of creativity in communication. I am confident that our expertise in crafting creative, unconventional, and personalized solutions for promoting companies will be increasingly in demand.

A key feature of my agency is our extensive experience in technology. This is a unique mindset, as not everyone is prepared to work in and delve into technological topics, such as understanding data storage systems or unified communications. However, understanding these fundamentals is crucial.

Another one of my strengths is strong international expertise. Having worked in various positions handling international projects, and being a digital nomad for over seven years, I have gained deep insights into different cultures, approaches, and communication strategies. This experience allows me to execute projects more effectively for our customers.

What are the key trends in marketing communications that businesses should be aware of in 2024? Can you share some insights on how these trends are shaping the industry and impacting marketing strategies?

In 2024, marketing communications are being shaped by several key trends. With the incredible development of AI tools, significant attention is being and will be paid to the quality of content. Clients will expect a personalized approach rather than another AI-generated message. The target audience seeks authenticity and genuine communication, not messages from “big corporations,” but humanized interactions. Humanization of communications is the trend. 

These trends affect both information distribution channels and formats. As the amount of generated information grows, consumer attention becomes diluted. Therefore, I recommend distributing your content across as many communication channels as possible and remembering that short videos remain popular.

What are some of the most effective organic marketing tools for promoting companies with minimal expenses? Could you provide examples of how you’ve successfully utilized these tools in your own campaigns?

Effective organic marketing tools for promoting companies with minimal expenses include content marketing, social media, SEO, email marketing, public relations, and influencer marketing. At Easy Communications, we’ve successfully utilized these strategies, such as leveraging micro-influencers and barter-based partnerships to boost brand visibility. 

Additionally, partnership marketing and co-marketing activities have helped us create mutually beneficial collaborations. For example, over a six-month period, we increased a customer’s organic traffic by 30% through content marketing and SEO, and grew another customer’s social media followers by 50% through strategic social media campaigns and influencer partnerships.

What are the main differences you’ve experienced between working as an in-house marketer and running your own agency, Easy Communications? What challenges and opportunities have you encountered in each role?

Working as an in-house marketer and running my own agency, Easy Communications, has presented distinct differences, challenges, and opportunities. In-house marketing, as a rule, offers a deep understanding of a single brand, allowing for long-term strategic planning. However, it can be limiting in terms of creativity and variety.

Running my own agency provides diverse projects, fostering creativity and innovation. The challenges include managing multiple clients, handling administrative tasks, and ensuring consistent quality across various industries. The opportunities lie in building a personal brand, expanding my professional network, and developing a versatile skill set.

What are the primary differences between promoting startups and larger enterprises? 

Promoting startups and larger enterprises involves distinct strategies. Startups often have limited budgets and need to focus on building brand awareness and credibility from scratch. This requires creative, cost-effective tactics such as grassroots marketing, social media engagement, and influencer partnerships. 

Larger enterprises, on the other hand, have established brands and larger budgets, allowing for broader, multi-channel campaigns and more extensive market research. For larger clients, we implemented comprehensive marketing strategies that leverage their existing brand recognition to drive further growth. These examples illustrate the need for flexibility and tailored approaches depending on the size and stage of the company.

How did winning the Women Startup Challenge in Barcelona in 2023 impact your work and vision for Speakabara? 

Speakabara is a platform designed to improve foreign language speaking skills. Currently based in Barcelona, I began learning Spanish two years ago and realized that the most challenging step is starting to speak the new language. I noticed the same difficulty among other learners, which inspired us to create Speakabara. 

Winning the Women Startup Challenge in Barcelona in 2023 provided valuable validation and visibility for Speakabara. This recognition has reinforced our belief that there is a market need for our product. Currently, we are conducting market research, testing our idea, and performing customer development interviews to refine our platform. 

Can you discuss your experiences with expanding your business into international markets? What are the key differences you’ve encountered compared to domestic marketing efforts?

Expanding Easy Communications into international markets has been a transformative experience. The key differences compared to domestic marketing include understanding and adapting to cultural nuances, local consumer behavior, and regulatory environments. International marketing requires more extensive research to tailor strategies that resonate with diverse audiences. Additionally, logistical challenges such as time zone differences and language barriers must be managed effectively. This expansion has provided opportunities to innovate and customize our approach, ultimately enhancing our adaptability and broadening our expertise in the global marketing landscape.

Your recent speech at The Marketing Meetup focused on essential soft skills for marketers. What are these key skills, and why are they important? How can marketers develop and improve these skills to enhance their career prospects?

Oh, that was a great experience. Speaking in front of 50 brilliant marketing professionals at a top-notch Gartner venue was incredible. In my recent speech at The Marketing Meetup in Barcelona, I emphasized the importance of key soft skills for marketers such as adaptability, problem solving, creativity, innovative thinking, curiosity and observation skills. These skills are crucial for conveying ideas, developing unique strategies, adjusting to market changes, building relationships, and making informed decisions. Marketers can enhance these skills through continuous learning, seeking feedback, and engaging in diverse experiences, which collectively improve their career prospects and effectiveness in the industry.

What does it mean to you to be a jury member for The International Business Awards by Stevie Awards and The 2024 Stevie Awards for Technology Excellence? How does this role align with your professional goals and personal values?

Being a jury member for Stevie Awards is a significant honor. It allows me to contribute to the recognition of outstanding achievements in business and technology, aligning with my professional goal of promoting excellence and innovation in these fields. Personally, this role resonates with my values of integrity, continuous learning, and supporting industry growth. It provides an opportunity to stay at the forefront of industry trends and to acknowledge the hard work and creativity of leading professionals.

When evaluating entries for Stevie Awards, I look for qualities such as innovation, impact, execution, and overall excellence. Achievements that demonstrate a significant improvement in business processes, customer satisfaction, or technological advancement are highly valued. 

Do you have more tips to share with our readers today?

Optimize your website for SEO to attract organic traffic, leverage social media to engage with your audience and build a strong community. Focus on creating valuable, sometimes funny, high-quality content that addresses your audience’s needs. Build relationships with industry influencers and partners to expand your reach, and utilize personalized email marketing campaigns to keep your audience engaged. These strategies help maximize brand visibility and generate leads without large budgets.

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