Your Eminence agency celebrates its 15th anniversary this month…
A great opportunity to take stock and retrace your journey together, share the lessons you have learned, the encounters that have left their mark on you, and the events that have marked these past 15 years. Ready for a dive into your world?
Yes, of course, with pleasure!
Indeed, this is an important milestone for me, resonating as a new chapter within myself, and also the launch of Eminence 2.0 🚀
But I won’t spoil everything for you right away!
It’s already been 15 years since I embarked on this beautiful entrepreneurial journey.
I was alone back in 2008, and now we are 21 people contributing to the agency’s success!
What a journey it has been!
Let’s start at the beginning…
What is your journey in a few words?
When I was a child, I used to dream of being a music concert organizer!
I wanted to create the show, make things move.
That was before!
Before I became passionate about the strategic dimension of corporate policies.
Ultimately, I naturally gravitated towards what we can now call “traditional” marketing at the University of Geneva.
I was constantly brimming with ideas, so the field of marketing was the perfect specialty in which I was sure to thrive!
Why did you choose to focus on digital?
In 2008, I began to take a growing interest in the digital realm. I saw in this specialization the ability to multiply touchpoints with the target audience. It opened up significant opportunities alongside traditional marketing in the media!
I had the privilege of joining a research laboratory on multimedia communication and AI between 2003 and 2005. During that time, I was able to leverage my marketing knowledge and develop my skills in the technological aspect. It was a valuable learning experience and highly informative for the rest of my journey!
What inspired you to create a digital agency? What was the trigger?
Actually, being an entrepreneur wasn’t an ultimate goal or an absolute desire.
The trigger for me was listening to the frustration I experienced during my recent professional experiences: frustrated with traditional media advertising, frustrated by seeing new communication opportunities emerging, particularly with the rise of Facebook…
In reality, I had a genuine desire to shake things up, but the companies I worked for at the time weren’t quite ready to take the leap.
Back then, there were mostly agencies specializing in email marketing or website development.
So, in my eyes, there were opportunities to be seized in the realm of strategy, which I envisioned combining with data and web development.
I followed my instinct and vision, which turned out to be correct. My impulsive side gave me the push to launch myself!
Starting a solo entrepreneurship journey isn’t always easy. Did you begin from scratch, or did you already have leads such as potential clients, preferred domains, or financing in place?
Indeed, it’s not easy at all!
Would you like to know my biggest mistake?
It was underestimating the necessary cash flow to start my business. I thought that having saved up 20,000 CHF would be quite comfortable.
However, I hadn’t imagined that it would take nearly 6 months for me to start generating income!
Fortunately, during the periods of doubt and stress that punctuated my early years, I could rely on the unwavering support of my wife, family, and friends.
I can only thank them for encouraging me to continue the Eminence adventure!
As mentioned earlier, I had a strong belief that my focus on strategy and data would be fruitful. Companies need numbers, KPIs, and factual elements to analyze and shape their strategies.
Combining these two aspects was a no-brainer for me.
So, I started in the digital space by offering brand-building strategies on Facebook to boost engagement. I was one of the first to offer this service in the market. And, almost pun intended, it paid off!
How did you come up with the name Eminence?
My poetic soul and a rhyme with “agency”? Unfortunately, that’s far from it.
An homage to French underwear brand @Eminence? Not that either.
The reality is quite different: many brand names and internet domains are already reserved, so the choices can quickly become limited.
I wanted a name that would reflect the DNA of Eminence, which includes the advisory aspect, the visionary element, and the pursuit of excellence.
After brainstorming with my friends, Eminence emerged as an obvious choice (😉, yet another rhyme… It must be a sign!)
I wasn’t targeting the French market specifically, so the existence of the eminence.fr website wasn’t a problem.
And why did you choose a pink logo?
It must be my feminine side coming through!
Pink is a cheerful, dynamic color that evokes happiness, childhood, and optimism. It adds vibrancy and a warm touch to my agency, while also symbolizing the emotional connection I have with my teams, partners, or clients.
Who is Pinkie?
If you’ve been following me for a (very) long time, you might have seen it in the background of a YouTube video.
🐘 The elephant is an animal that, for me, symbolizes kindness, benevolence, as well as wisdom and longevity.
It represents the trust-based, long-term relationship I aim to build with my clients, in a partnership.
And, it’s also a nod to the pink elephant, the famous elephant that can fly in the sky. Who knows, maybe virtual reality will allow us to catch a glimpse of it in the future?
The foundations of Eminence
How did you land your first clients?
When starting a new business, we all face this challenge… How to find our first clients!
It’s so crucial.
It comes naturally to some.
But it can be quite difficult for others, like me, who don’t have a natural sales temperament.
Fortunately, I was lucky! 🍀
I owe this luck to having a well-developed network, which allowed me to gain visibility.
It was through this network that my contacts gave me the opportunity to work on digital projects within their companies.
They, in turn, recommended me to their circle of acquaintances.
I can never thank them enough for trusting me in the early days!
How did you make yourself known?
🗣 My best sales tools, as you may have guessed, are word-of-mouth and recommendations!
LinkedIn wasn’t as developed as it is today. We are fortunate to be able to take advantage of the opportunities it offers for research, networking, information, and the doors it can open for us!
Clients, as well as partners, and much more: the team members of my agency as well!
Have there been any meetings that have particularly marked you?
Each of my advancements, in the end, is the result of a meeting.
That’s what I realize with hindsight when I look back at these past 15 years!
🏢 I could mention the meeting with my accountant, David, with whom I shared my first office space a few months later.
✍🏻 Or my network that opened doors for me and allowed me to meet my first clients. Then, new clients with strong reputations, who, in turn, opened other doors for me through the projects we completed!
By carefully listening to their needs and aligning them with digital technologies and trends, I am constantly challenged!
👩🏻🦱 And when I talk about meetings, I can’t help but mention Roudi, my invaluable CTO! Someone I’ve always been able to rely on!
During our first interview in 2013, I immediately saw her human qualities and commitment.
And the idea of hiring a woman as a CTO appealed to me, even though it was uncommon at the time!
And my intuition was right: her technical digital skills and personality have propelled Eminence forward.
All these encounters with my clients, partners, and team members have borne fruit and sown the seeds that have given rise to more than 1000 digital projects!
We need others, whether it’s for exchanging, learning, progressing, or renewing ourselves.
Everyone benefits from each other. And I am no exception!
How do you differentiate yourself from your “competitors” or other players in the market: your unique advantage, your added value?
Is that question a bit intrusive, isn’t it?
In reality, there is currently so much demand for digital services that everyone can find their place by adopting a niche positioning: targeting specific company sizes, industries, geographical locations, etc. Or by specializing in a specific field such as strategy, design, data, development, content creation, etc.
If I were to compare myself with similar-sized players in the Romand market, I would say that the strong point I emphasize is my sense of commitment and dedication to my clients.
Signing a contract goes beyond the written word and represents a moral agreement for me.
I will go above and beyond to ensure their satisfaction, provide the best advice, and support them throughout our collaboration.
Since 2008, I chose to position myself as a strategic and technological agency, areas I mastered better than the creative aspect. So, I specialized in:
- strategy because every digital action must align with a clear and measurable objective, or it risks underperforming. My mission is to build it based on our clients’ needs, analyzing the market situation and practices.
- technology, which is essential to master as the digital landscape is constantly evolving with ever more innovative and sophisticated techniques and tools.
To these two pillars, we now add:
- data, as data is a goldmine of information to be leveraged for refining any strategy and optimizing its ROI (Return on Investment).
- acquisition, which encompasses SEO, SEA, Social Media, Automation, and many other existing methods to enhance one’s visibility, boost sales, and foster customer loyalty.
So, what ultimately sets me apart from my competitors?
It’s the mastery of these four valuable pillars of the digital ecosystem, enabling me to provide a comprehensive offering to my clients.
Your daily routine
Do you find that clients have evolved over the years (in terms of behavior and demands)?
Over the course of 15 years, I’ve worked with more than a hundred clients, and I must admit that it’s easier to collaborate with some than others. And I don’t think you’d disagree with that.
1️⃣ “I want it by yesterday” or “I need it by today.”
Ah, this phrase, how many times have I heard it, and I’m not alone!
I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry… maybe I should just get used to it. Anticipate even more!
⏱ We’re all pressed for time, with increasingly tight deadlines to meet. Unfortunately, that’s the reality of the society we live in today, and I’ve noticed it much more in the past 6-8 years.
Yet, sometimes, I prefer to take a bit more time and deliver high-quality work that requires little to no revisions, rather than rush through a project. The time saved on one end is gained on the other, with greater satisfaction in the end. What do you think?
Of course, I always do my best to meet my clients’ urgent requests, as it has been my motto since the launch of Eminence.
2️⃣ “You’re too expensive.”
Every service provider must regularly hear this phrase echoing in their head! This famous statement has become part of the negotiation game in the face of competition.
💰 Too expensive compared to what exactly? Quality work, with its technical constraints, web development, content creation, cannot be undervalued.
I realize that even though the digital realm is widespread and a part of our daily lives, not everyone has a clear understanding of the financial resources required for its various facets.
In fact, I would say that not all companies are yet ready to embrace digital.
I often observe this during incoming calls or meetings with prospects. Small businesses, in particular, tend to underestimate the costs associated with the web: website development, ad campaigns, social media content creation, and more.
Most of our services require the involvement of multiple specialists: designers, developers, data analysts, copywriters, reporting experts, client support, which we don’t necessarily all realize.
What have been the craziest or most surprising requests from your clients?
My biggest professional challenge? A crazy request from a client!
As I mentioned earlier, companies that consult with us increasingly seek proposals or deliverables in shorter and shorter timeframes.
The craziest request I ever received goes back a few years to 2016 when a company contacted me between Christmas and New Year, on December 26th. They were particularly impressed with a project we had completed for one of their clients and wanted the same for their own company!
Except that their marketing budget was set to expire on December 31st. Anything unspent would be “lost.” So, in just 4 days, they wanted to obtain a quote, get it approved and signed, and receive prototypes!
😨 You can imagine the stress I felt after ending that call. It was an ambitious project for a renowned company, with a significant revenue potential!
🙏🏻 Fortunately, I was lucky to have a team I could rely on, and some colleagues came back from their vacation to respond to this request for proposal and create the initial prototypes, unlocking the budget.
An unexpected Christmas gift and a memorable moment for Eminence!
What I take away from this is that with determination, a cohesive team, and strong skills, we can take on significant challenges!
What are the tasks you enjoy the most and the ones you appreciate the least?
❤️ Client strategy
This is truly my area of expertise and the reason why I decided to found Eminence.
I particularly enjoy pondering over challenges, analyzing the environment, and finding the right digital solution to achieve the goals desired by my clients.
I talk about client strategy, but I must, of course, work on Eminence’s own strategy:
– Creating a skills map to visualize training opportunities.
– Distributing the workload among the team in consultation with Audrey.
– Ensuring the profitability of projects to avoid working at a loss, especially when responding to proposals.
– Anticipating recruitment when I see new projects on the horizon, so we’re ready when the time comes.
Every day is unique and leaves no room for routine. That’s what keeps me excited every day!
❤️🩹 Humanity: both my strength and my weakness.
I love people, talking, exchanging ideas, and spending time with them.
However, I encounter difficulties as a manager in handling individuals and certain situations because emotions come into play. Behind each person, there is a story, a history, responsibilities, strengths, and weaknesses… You can’t treat people like files.
Sometimes, it requires having psychological knowledge to manage the human dimension effectively. Knowing how to encourage, appreciate, or provide constructive feedback is not easy on a daily basis.
Despite having management courses at university, the reality in the field is very different from the theory taught.
👉🏻 So, I didn’t hesitate to seek the assistance of a coach to accompany me and help me evolve in my role as a manager.
Exactly, what type of manager are you?
Being a manager was never an innate skill or a calling… In fact, I became a manager out of necessity. If I wanted to grow my agency, I had to surround myself with complementary skills through a reliable team.
Before, I had never been a manager; I had always been in the role of the managed. Like everyone, I internally criticized my managers, thinking that I could have done better…
And then the day came. It was in 2010: my first recruitment.
I became a manager and responsible for someone. Responsible for their well-being at work, their deliverables to clients, and their skill development. And it’s not an easy role!
🔮 I’ve always had this visionary aspect, wanting to be a pioneer, ahead of the market.
I had this “thirst for learning,” to understand the multiple facets of marketing, which was evolving into the digital realm at the time. Even today, I seek new trends and continue to learn because it’s crucial.
🎓 I encourage my colleagues to stay informed about new technologies, to take courses and obtain digital certifications to update their knowledge and contribute to their personal development.
I have a very human personality and am naturally talkative. In my opinion, good communication is the foundation of any personal or professional relationship. It’s important to be able to speak up, explain when things are not going well, suggest improvements, but also not hesitate to compliment when you’re satisfied with the work done.
🤝 I trust my team, but of course, it should not be taken for granted. I’ve learned to delegate, which is not always easy when you’re used to doing everything yourself.
The secret to organization, in my view, is delegating with follow-up. Delegation should be clear with objectives to be successful: gather the right people, provide a good summary, and assign tasks to the right people.
I value a good team spirit, where we can help each other and rely on one another. This includes sharing knowledge and skills, as well as having after-work gatherings! 🍸
Building a reliable and high-performing team is crucial. What would be your 5 tips for selecting your collaborators and forming your team?
Shh, it’s a secret, but for you, I’ll share my magic potion:
🦾 Ingredient #1. Know-how and skills.
This is the number one key to being fulfilled in my opinion. The right person in the right place, this principle is valid for both an employer and their employee.
For this, I clearly state in job offers the tasks that will be assigned and the skills or experiences expected.
📈 Ingredient #2: Grit
I appreciate people who have the desire and the determination to progress, understand, and learn. The digital realm is a field that constantly and swiftly evolves; one must be passionate and ready for continuous learning to keep up with the trends.
💝 Ingredient #3: Humanity and Team Spirit
This is a crucial point in my view because humans are the glue of a team, essential for its unity. I pay special attention to mutual assistance, respect, and trust.
A strong fit among team members is necessary for cohesion and readiness to tackle all challenges!
At the halfway point, a new member joined the adventure… your son! What was the impact of this joyful event?
Yes, indeed, it was on April 19, 2016, the birth of my son, Elias 👶🏻
At first, to be honest, it didn’t impact my pace. In reality, my awareness began about a year later when he started to grow. The more our interactions developed and intensified, the more I realized the happiness I had before my eyes and in my arms, having a son, having created a family.
At that time, my three priorities were in balance: Family, Work, and Money.
Since 2019, the equation has changed: my priority is now my family. I have redefined my organization to give them more time. A joy!
We should always take the time to redefine our priorities, without waiting. Because time passes, and it doesn’t wait for us and can’t be regained. This, of course, requires sacrifices and reallocations in our lives, but our well-being and balance are priceless!
How do you manage to balance work and personal life?
Being an entrepreneur, leader, husband, and father does indeed require wearing many hats! To successfully balance personal and professional life, I, like many others, sometimes wish I had the power to:
🌎 Teleport myself, 🕰 Stop time, 🔮 See the future, and 💡 Be an expert in everything…
But clearly, I’m not a Marvel superhero like the ones my son loves! I’m also not a cat with nine lives. Like all of you, I have only one life, and I want to enjoy it fully without regrets.
So, for me, the most important thing is not to exhaust myself and drain all my energy. My best advice is relatively simple: learn to adjust your ambitions at times.
👉🏻 The key is not to aim too high and to progress step by step.
This allows you to better allocate quality time to each component of your balance: your loved ones, your hobbies, and your professional activities.
Following this advice isn’t always easy, especially when you’re passionate about a project and building something from the ground up. But taking time for yourself and your family is vital and contributes significantly to your balance by allowing you to take breaks, clear your mind, and ultimately increase your productivity.
– I no longer work on Wednesday mornings to spend time with my son.
– I’ve become a pro at building Lego thanks to him.
– I finish work earlier on Friday afternoons to clear my mind with a walk.
– I’ve reduced my business trips and even walk to the office one day a week, which is a 40-minute walk.
– I attend fewer events and encourage my team to attend those that are relevant and beneficial to their roles.
– I go on vacation more often with my family, while reserving some days for remote work.
I should have adopted this organization earlier, but like most of us, I was caught up in the creation and development of Eminence. I struggled to gain perspective and understand that one can be more productive and efficient by working less but better and by delegating more.
Reflecting on your experience
What is or are your fondest memories?
My fondest memory? I’ve always had trouble choosing, so I’ll have to share several with you!
👨🏻💼 At the professional level
I experienced several emotional highlights at different stages of Eminence’s evolution:
💙 At the creation of the agency in 2008: that moment when I took the leap to register my company. The very moment when I thought to myself, “It’s your turn now!”, with a mix of anxiety, enthusiasm, impatience, and joy.
💙 When acquiring renowned clients in various sectors, such as Trisa (social media strategy), Chiquita (digital campaigns), McDonald’s (multilingual SEO strategy and EM migration), Emil Frey (e-commerce website), and more. I felt a great sense of satisfaction and gratitude toward my team and the work they put in. It was the result of collective effort. 👏🏻
💙 During the Best of the Web Awards ceremony in 2022: it was a pleasant surprise when I heard the name Eminence announced! It represents recognition in the digital field and our expertise.
💙 When recruiting certain individuals into my team. Beautiful connections and relationships have formed over months and years of collaboration. These encounters have shaped the agency, its range of services, its strategy, and its team. However, I must keep their names a secret to avoid any jealousy!
👨👨👦 On a personal level
I’m just a man, like most others, or almost. I’m quite sentimental.
💜 When I think about beautiful memories, I immediately recall meeting my wife, Hela, also in 2008, just like my agency: it’s undeniably a sign! She has been by my side since the beginning and has greatly encouraged and boosted me during moments of doubt.
💜 Then, in 2016, our family grew with the birth of my son, Elias, a real upheaval in my life. I became responsible for a little being, embarking on a new apprenticeship, without tutorials, one of those that truly only exists in practice: that of being a father! 👶🏻
What are the biggest challenges you have encountered?
1️⃣ The Cash Flow 💰
As I mentioned in a previous post, cash flow has been a source of deep concern for me during my startup phase and even gave me chills during Halloween season! It’s the key indicator for me that represents my ability to manage a company and make it viable, beyond just the revenue.
If I couldn’t be profitable on my own, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to project into the future, start building a team, and thus grow Eminence.
It’s worth noting that Eminence has always been self-funded!
2️⃣ The Covid 😷
Like all companies we have suffered the full force of the pandemic:
- Ads and Paid campaigns slowed down,
- RDV prospects were harder to obtain with the home office,
- companies were more cautious due to the uncertainty over the duration of confinements…
Covid also had an impact on team cohesion. Most of my staff were working from home and that had an impact on team spirit, especially as I’d just taken on new members.
Fortunately, the return to face-to-face meetings quickly enabled us to get back into the swing of things!
3️⃣ Departure from the team 👋🏻
It was in 2010 that I was able to take the plunge and recruit for the first time. In the beginning, I sometimes found it difficult to keep some of my staff, because I didn’t have much money.
Every departure, whether resignation or redundancy, is a reappraisal:
– resignation: you wonder why, what could have been done better… I often ask myself a lot of questions and that creates moments of doubt.
– dismissal: this often reflects a casting error; sometimes I tend to take too much account of feeling and personality, to the detriment of experience and skills. It’s my human side that plays tricks on me.
Fortunately, my instinct allows me to bring great people into my team! And it was really in 2014 that I had a complementary and highly competent team that enabled me to project myself into the future with a solid foundation.
4️⃣ Company size 🧑🤝🧑
“She’s got it all! That’s what I sometimes like to say to my prospects…
I’m lucky enough to have a great team with a wide range of complementary skills, which enables me to respond to all kinds of projects. But sometimes large companies doubt the ability of a human-sized agency to handle large-scale projects. And yet we are often more flexible…
When you see how far you’ve come, what are you most proud of?
Looking back, there are 3 things I’m really proud of today:
☀️ Eminence’s reputation
Mine was at stake too! Fortunately, I’m delighted to receive positive feedback on what I deliver to my customers. It’s the fruit of the work of an entire team, which has been built up year after year, project after project.
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained! So at the end of 2022, for the 1st time I entered the digital competition in French-speaking Switzerland: Le Meilleur du Web. And we won the trophy in the Online Marketing and Business Efficiency category! 🏆
I can’t hide the emotion I felt when @Victoria Marchand mentioned @Agence Eminence… A great sense of pride and gratitude toward my team who:
- Took on the challenge of putting together the competition entry in a very short time.
- Did an outstanding job in improving the traffic to McDonald’s Switzerland website, thanks to an effective multilingual SEO strategy, focused on comprehensive content optimization and relevant use of keywords, particularly oriented towards Intent marketing.
⚖️ Finding the balance
This takes me back to my psychology classes and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Gradually, I manage to create the right balance between my professional and personal life, even though it’s not always easy, especially when dealing with emergencies and unforeseen events.
But it’s a choice I don’t regret.
What if you could do it all over again? Would you do it the same way or differently?
I would change some things, but not much. Because it’s through doing that we learn, and it’s through failures that we grow.
💰 I admit that I might wait a bit longer to have more savings before starting, as it was tough and very stressful to begin with limited resources!
⚙️ I would also definitely change my management style in terms of delegation. Before, I didn’t set clear boundaries. Now, I establish the groundwork, discuss my expectations and the desired goals, with a clear follow-up.
This represents a gain in both satisfaction and time for both my team and myself!
🏝 I would allow myself more “Quality time” to disconnect from work, enjoy what life has to offer, and embrace the present moment. I’ve only recently started doing this:
- Spending time with my family and traveling.
- Rediscovering my inner child by playing with my son Elias.
- Going out with friends, dancing, or indulging in seafood feasts by the sea 😄.
In short, I have no regrets about this beautiful entrepreneurial journey, and I would do it all over again!
The Future of Eminence
This year, Eminence celebrates its 15th anniversary! A significant milestone, especially as the digital landscape is constantly evolving. So, let’s talk about the future now.
What are Eminence’s plans for the upcoming years? Local initiatives, website enhancements, and positioning.
Over the past four weeks, I’ve shared a lot about the past and the present with you. You’ve learned a great deal about me, my journey, my strengths, and my weaknesses.
- A pivotal year that signifies the start of a new era, a new mindset, and a new vision for the offering.
1️⃣ We are strengthening the Eminence team
The team has been restructured to manage projects even more efficiently and bring in a fresh perspective and new skills to anticipate or meet our clients’ needs.
Numerous opportunities arise daily with AI. We aim to be proactive and leverage these technological advancements for our clients by integrating them into our offerings in the near future.
2️⃣ We revamped our visual identity at the beginning of the year:
- A new, more modern and evocative logo.
- A newsletter with a fresh design and content.
- Implementation across our internal documents.
3️⃣ We just launched our new website in October: www.eminence.ch ! You will find all the information about our services, case studies, blog articles covering various aspects of digital (tools, news, tips, etc.).
4️⃣ We continue to expand our presence on social media through:
- Our technical Q&A sessions “E.xperts,” focusing on web development, data, UX/UI design, and SEO/SEA.
- Our marketing tips “E.fficiency,” oriented towards digital strategy, acquisition, social media, and sales.
- New blog posts, case studies, or podcasts.
- Updates about the agency’s latest news and developments.
5️⃣ We are currently in the process of moving!
We are leaving our offices in Carouge in October to relocate to new premises at 64 Rue Grand Pré in Geneva. Feel free to come and visit us!
Why this move? To be closer to the train station and promote sustainable mobility, while offering a more spacious and modern working environment for my teams.
As you can see, many developments and projects have been undertaken this year! I can’t wait to see what 2024 has in store 😂.
And now, let’s set our sights on the 20th anniversary! ❤️