Shama Kabani is an online marketing expert. She is the founder of The Marketing Zen Group, a full service online marketing firm that serves clients around the world. Shama teaches clients how to leverage the internet to establish themselves as industry experts, acquire more clients, create valuable services, and ultimately increase profit through her one- on- one consulting work, and through her company’s several online marketing services.
She holds a Masters degree in Organizational Communication from the University of Texas at Austin, and prides herself in being a constant learner. Her website, http://www.MarketingZen.com, has turned into a high-traffic destination for people looking for advice on how to market their businesses successfully. Her clients have garnered national media attention, and companies often look to Shama to guide them when it comes to the vast world of social media marketing. She has been named one of the 10 Most Influential and Powerful Women in Social Media.
Shama, you started your first business at 9 and now you’re managing your own marketing company, i guess you’ve come a long way?
= ) It’s a journey, that’s for sure!
Briefly give us some background information about yourself and what you do?
Well, I run The Marketing Zen Group – which is a full service web marketing firm in Dallas. I, personally, specialize in social media marketing.
So what inspired you to finally start your marketing company?
I was studying social networking in graduate school – and I loved the practical implications of it! It made sense to transfer that to the “real world.”
So how did you finance your company?
Completely bootstrapped it! : ) It was an amazing experience – and continues to be. As a small business, you are always looking at the numbers.
Can you give some brief description what your company does and what you do in it?
Sure! The Marketing Zen Group is a full service web marketing firm – which pretty much means we help clients market online. In fact, we take over online marketing for a lot of companies. My job is to strategize the best plan for our clients, and then help our team carry it out efficiently.
What tips would you give anyone starting up their business and looking to market and put their company out there?
A few things:
1) Learn to be an editor! You will never get it perfect. Start somewhere.
2) Learn from others! If someone has done it –learn from them.
3) There are no short cuts. It takes hard work and late nights. Be prepared for that!
I mean running a company with virtual employees, how do you communicate efficiently? How can small businesses maximize the potential of virtual employees?
Get a project management system and manage expectations from the start! That is very key.
How many employees do you have? Full- or part-time?
7 full time, 2 part time.
What is an average workday like for you?
Start at 9 am. Check email – usually takes an hour! Attend meetings. Answer press calls. Attend conference calls. Pretty much goes until midnight. And that’s when I am not travelling!
What plans do you have now to expand your business further?
Hiring more great folks. The team is SO key! And, we are going to continue to make sure we are increasing value for our clients.
How much power do you feel the internet has in promoting a company/product/service?
Only as much power as the product/service allows it. Meaning no amount of marketing will help a product that’s not good. That being said, billions of dollars are generated in revenue thanks to the web.
How do you build a successful customer base?
Begin by picking good customers and clients. People who appreciate you and your work! Then, build from there.
What are your favourite marketing tools?
Facebook, Twitter, VIDEO!
What is one thing that people wouldn’t believe you do?
Act goofy with my team. : ) I have an awful sense of humour, but I practice it on a regular basis on my team. They humour me. : )
How important have good employees been to your success?
KEY! The team you build is everything.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
As a growing business, you learn lessons every day. The goal is to take what you can from them, but don’t take business failure as personal failure.
What book has inspired you the most?
TOO many to list! = ) I am a big Seth Godin fan.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Getting honoured by Businesses Week as a Top 25 under 25 business. That was an amazing feeling. That article ended up on the home page of Yahoo and WOW. That was the best moment. = )
In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur?
GO! = )
Thanks for your time.