StayUncle CMO, Bestselling Author & Keynote Speaker
I was born in a province in South-East Macedonia, presently North Macedonia. I had a varied career working in a bank in Macedonia and as a labour worker in Italy, before I used all of my savings to move to India for an internship as an AIESEC alumnus. It was in India that I honed my skills as a marketer and content writer, and I co-founded hotel booking website for couples, StayUncle, in 2015. I developed the content and marketed StayUncle, taking it from a landing page with no revenue to a multi-million dollar company. It was named as one of the 10 startups to watch by Forbes India in 2018.
Aside from StayUncle, I am also a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and angel investor with a keen eye for identifying strong stories and trends and converting them into engaging brand campaigns.
I propel brands and revenues into new, uncharted territories, without being marked as the enemy of the state.
I had been ‘marketing’ since my early childhood. In a country with little to no opportunities, marketing became a crucial survival skill for me, and was a craft I learned myself. You had to fight off a large number of candidates for a single chance at success. Recognising influencer marketing as the next big thing, I developed a blog at the age of 16, which I managed to sell one year later to a local job search portal in Macedonia. It was a career interview tips blog, which I sold for $1700 – a big paycheck for a 17 year old student. Through this, I discovered my passion and talent for content and branding, which allowed me to work with prospects as unlikely as VC funds in India, Miss India 2017, and some politicians.
In my opinion, the power of Influencer marketing remains significantly underrated, with most powerhouse brands still struggling to successfully incorporate it into their marketing mix. I think the emergence of platforms such as Twitch and Tik Tok speak to the growing.
importance of video and personalised 1-1 communication. I also see a huge trend for VR marketing coming down the tracks. I believe VR will overtake traditional billboard in the coming years.
Another trend I expect to see is the ‘fremium model’, masked as pirating. Paulo Coehlo is an advocate for pirating books, adding that if readers enjoy the ‘preview’ they will then go buy the physical book. In his opinion it works, and he has said this trend contributes to another 20% on top of his official sales figures. Musicians are also using this strategy, and Pirate Bay is one of the most overlooked distribution channels, especially for digital goods.
I wouldn’t call marketing a ‘career’, it’s more so a business skill, a 24/7 task. Through StayUncle, we managed to break centuries-old taboos in India. This was only possible through a thorough understanding of folklore and the stories that create impactful impressions. The passion to want to change people’s perceptions is essential to a company’s methods of operating, and I believe you won’t have this passion if you view marketing simply as a career option.
I’m always on the lookout to invest either time and/or money into interesting technology-powered projects which I think are scalable and harness potential to grow globally. I am currently writing my second book, and am already involved in several cross-continental initiatives for bolstering innovation and growth across Eastern Europe and the Balkans.
I think a key initiative for me has always been to be yourself. Informally chatting to your target audience and listening very carefully to what messages they have are vital to truly understanding their beliefs and opinions.
Reading religiously is also vital, from industry reports to historical books. I am a huge believer in continuous learning and keeping up to speed with emerging trends.
I believe a quality marketer pushes boundaries. In StayUncle, we received so many requests to hire a girl with room bookings, that we had to do something to raise awareness of human trafficking across the country. We created a fake website where users could ‘book’ girls for one night, and within the first 12 hours we received over 1,200 email registrations. We became a viral sensation overnight and global news within 24 hours. Through our unorthodox, impactful methods, we gained massive traction and highlighted an issue that might not have received as much attention had we used a conventional marketing method.
The most difficult moments I think are figuring out when your project no longer needs you. It isn’t easy to know exactly when you have outgrown your current project to be able to move on to your next big project. My most recent experience of this has been stepping aside from the marketing aspect of StayUncle. Once I had taught my marketing executives how to think, as opposed to what to do, I knew it was time for me to move on to my next venture.
I believe in letting people go to the forefront of the feedback machine, so they can learn directly and experience the direct effects of their work.
At StayUncle, every teammate had access to the support and resolution email inbox, and responses were periodically routed to members of the team to see the value of their work. When you receive replies along the lines of “You saved our relationship, you saved our lives”, it brings out your passion and motivation.
It’s important to trust your instincts and follow your beliefs. I would advise against shunning new trends, no matter how controversial or ‘off the wall’ they may seem.
Tools and platforms come and go every single day, but good marketers will always need strong stories in order to communicate effectively. I would advise marketers to be fluid in their choice of platforms, while remaining focused on finding the next story, or next emerging trend.
You won’t find many marketing trends at conferences, but you’ll find many of them on the streets.
Goal of the Day:
Be 1% better than yesterday.
Thought of the Day: Start with the last thing in mind.
Action of the Day: Touch soil with hands and feet.
Deed of the Day: Call or write someone asking how has their day been and what have they been up to lately.
Tip of the Day: Be aware of everything around you, not only in the marketing world. Oh, and practice mindfulness.