TDDD Interviews: C6 Consulting and DMC SA
This week on the blog, my featured story dived into some great networking tips for young marketers. Eager to find out more about networking in the digital marketing industry, I attended a networking event last week and was lucky enough to set up an interview with one of the key figures behind C6 Consulting and the Digital Marketing Collective (DMC SA).
I’d like to introduce you to Rian Carstens, CEO of C6 Consulting and founding host of the monthly DMC SA digital marketing networking event. Rian has extensive experience in the digital marketing world. He’s taken on managerial and team leader roles in a variety of disciplines, ranging from SEO, PPC, social media, conversion optimization, display & affiliate advertising and web development. Throughout Rian’s career, networking has played a key role in allowing him to move from strength to strength in digital marketing. This week, I was glad to sit down with Rian to hear a bit more about C6 Consulting, DMC SA and the role of networking in digital marketing.
TDDD: Your experience in digital spans some 13 years and many fields within the industry. What was the starting block of your career path in digital and what was it that got you hooked?
Rian: I started my career as a web-developer, which was an awesome job to start out. I was working for a company that had 114 URL’s with the goal of building all of these URL’s into websites. It was the early days of content management systems and I began building websites in a content management format. My boss’s main aim was to make sure that these websites were ranking well on search engines, but I was more concerned with making sure the websites looked amazing!
Once we started to see the traffic coming through to these websites along with the media accommodation we were selling – that’s where the excitement began and that’s what really got me hooked on digital.
TDDD: You’re currently CEO of a digital marketing consultancy called C6 Consulting. What sort of services does C6 Consulting provide to clients and agencies?
Rian: We have 2 major services at C6 Consulting. The first is a performance optimization service and involves us having a look at what our clients and their campaigns are currently doing in digital. We typically find that they are not optimized to the best of their campaign’s ability, so we look at how we can improve their campaign’s performance, whether it’s a PPC campaign, SEO, email, lead generation or whatever the case may be. We go with a guarantee of improving their campaign’s performance by 25%.
The second service is a digital transformation service. Often, we find that the problems in digital do not live within the agencies or the online infrastructure itself, but rather in the corporate structure and the people working on the client side. So through digital transformation, we help our clients to restructure their businesses to be more digitally enabled. We work on improving their processes, staff, education and decision-making. Our dashboard product allows these clients to make decisions on an informed and instantaneous basis.
TDDD: Before becoming CEO of C6 consulting in 2011, you were involved in a variety of agencies, consultancies, affiliates and companies at a management and team leader level. Did networking within the industry help you to climb your way towards where you are today?
Rian: Yes, absolutely! A very big part of my networking was done through attending industry events, especially those that were organized by Google. That’s where I got to meet the majority of the people that I got to know in the industry. It’s definitely worthwhile attending these sort of events and mingling with professionals who may be more senior than you or less senior than you.
You never know who you might get to meet or what opportunities can arise as a result.
TDDD: The C6 DMC events serve as a great networking, collaboration and learning platform for those in the digital industry. How did the DMC come about?
Rian: In February 2013, I came back from the UK after working there for 11 years. I didn’t know many professionals in South Africa, because most of my professional life and network was based in the UK. But the good weather and my family wasn’t based in the UK, so I came back to SA to continue my own consultancy, C6 Consulting. When I got back, I wanted to do some networking but found it difficult to find relevant networking events to meet amazing people in a relaxed environment. So in July of last year, I got together with some colleagues to tell them about the idea of a networking event. They joined in and our aim was to have around 20 people at our first event. So far, we’ve been averaging around 50 – 70 people, with the biggest being 94 people in the heat of summer! The event is growing and we’re starting to see at least 50% of attendees being new faces each time, which is really exciting.
TDDD: Have the DMC events assisted in creating a community element amongst digital professionals in Cape Town and SA?
Rian: At this stage, not quite throughout South Africa, but we’re definitely looking at expanding and starting a DMC in Joburg and Durban.
Our long-term vision is to play a role in changing the digital marketing industry.
In Cape Town, what we have tried to do is invite agencies that specialize in different fields and getting interesting guest speakers from a variety of these topics. So if you’re at an agency looking at PPC campaigns on a day to day basis, you probably don’t want to hear about another PPC campaign on a Thursday evening once a month – but you’re probably interested in hearing about what other amazing things are being done in the industry from a different perspective. We try to bring in senior guests who are good speakers and can supply some perspective about what’s happening outside of our attendees’ day to day roles.
TDDD: I was fortunate enough to attend the most recent DMC event and enjoyed your talk about 10 rising social networks to explore. Which of these social networks is your personal favourite from the list and what does it involve?
Rian: Thanks! I think my personal favourite was Vine. It’s an amazing way of taking a medium, which is not necessarily working as intended in countries like South Africa yet, and turning it into an easily consumable video medium. A 6 second video is much easier to consume than a 1 minute ad or a 5 minute feature. This forces publishers to be a lot more creative within in the video medium and I think that video is definitely going to be a big part of digital marketing in the future.
TDDD: It sounds like there are some interesting guest speakers lined up for the remaining DMC events of the year. Can you tell us who we can expect to hear from?
Rian: We’re looking at getting Mike Sharman to speak in October. Mike runs a company called Webfluential that allows you to look at who the biggest social media influences are within a particular industry. You’re then able to speak to those influences and pay them to post on behalf of your company. It’s an amazing technology and something that we should utilize in our industry. We’re looking forward to hearing more about that and Mike has a great reputation as a speaker and is a really funny guy too!
We’ve also go Pete Case from Gloo speaking in November. Pete is going to be talking about something that is really close to where we are at C6 with our clients. Gloo is exceptional at taking the digital experience and not just playing that online, but also crossing it over to the offline world. He’s going to be talking about how Gloo turns everyday situations into digital engagements. We’ll be looking forward to hearing from Pete.
TDDD: You must meet many new industry people through your consultancy and DMC events on a regular basis. Are you more likely to remember the names or faces of the people you come into contact with for the first time?
Rian: Embarrassingly, it’s always the faces! Quite often I seem to forget names. I remember recently, I was at the Science Museum, and the MD of one of the agencies we work with was there too. His name is Gary and I’ll remember that now after this mistake! I had a conversation with him and didn’t introduce him to my wife who was standing right next to me because I had forgotten his name! It was a really embarrassing thing and I try to avoid that as much as possible. (Sorry Gary!)
TDDD: In between your work in the digital industry, you’re the father to a family of 4 children. What do you always look forward to doing with your family during your time away from work?
Rian: I spend all of my weekends with my family. Spending time with my 3 boys and my 2-year-old daughter is amazing. We’re a very active family and try to get out to see shows, play at the park and visit the beach. Having 3 boys makes life very busy, but having a little girl too makes life twice as busy! I always make sure that nothing interrupts my weekend with the family, not doing any work or attending many events if I can help it, to spend time with the wife and the kids.
TDDD: Do you have any networking advice for young digital marketers to assist them in making the right connections and finding their way up the digital ladder?
Rian: Yes absolutely. Firstly, I’d recommend to attend these networking events. When you’re at these sort of events, it helps to have a friend there with you but you shouldn’t get stuck in your own circle the whole evening – make sure that you mingle! When you’re speaking to new people, make sure that you make eye-contact, give them attention and don’t keep looking over their shoulder. Ask more questions about these people and their careers than what you’re trying to tell others about your own career. People enjoy the engagement! Also, make sure that you don’t hog them the whole evening but rather rotate amongst the guests so that everyone else can have a chance to network with each other.