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Why having an idea and developing it beyond the client’s needs, is not a good thing

Ljubljana, May 17th, 2017

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CNJ digital—the abbreviation stands for Coffee N’JUICE—is a collection of strategic thinkers, problem solvers, designers and developers based in Ljubljana, Slovenia. CNJ digital started in 2011, when two founding members realised that their morning routine, i.e. meeting in a cafe and drinking a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice and a cup of coffee—made all the difference between getting a good or bad start to a day.

That’s how the name of the company came to be. The company started with modest, low-key project, directed exclusively towards advertising content. Their impressive banners, attracted major marketing agencies and other clients who wanted to work with CNJ on a number of different projects.

“We grew and became even more experienced,” says Mak Kordic, CEO of CNJ digital and adds, “We love to embark on pathfinding missions, exploring the latest trends and technological advancements. Our primary focus is on digital, but we also keep our creative taps open for any other exciting ideas. We take pride in managing projects in the fields of digital, IoT and communications”.

In early 2013, they had outgrown their premises and moved to new offices, which gave them the additional space needed to recruit inspiring new team members, and get a dog. “Yes, we do have a small dog, a gentle young poodle by the name of Dolly,” confirms Mak.

In 2016 the agency changed its name from Coffee N’JUICE to CNJ digital. “Our mission is to use our technological and business knowledge to create smart digital solutions for our clients,” says Mak, who started in the industry as a flash banner designer and never looked back. We asked him to tell us more.

What is the creative agency market like in Slovenia?

The digital agency market in Slovenia is slowly but surely waking up. The market is small and everybody knows each other so if you mess up, the client makes sure everybody knows. That quickly weeds out incapable agencies and individuals.

There are few smaller agencies which have been on the market for some time now and are just now getting the exposure they deserve. We are one of them. The competition is fierce but competition is good, we are all better because of it. Thick skin and constant delivery of good projects is what keeps you in the loop.

The case studies you have on your website include thermostats, does the smart home industry play a big role in the country and hence they need a better proposition to succeed in a competitive market?

As it is with all trends, Slovenia is a little late to the table, but there is quite a few companies here working on IoT, smart home, cloud services etc. We are lucky we got to work on few IoT projects already, so we are one step ahead in that regard. Most of our smart home/IoT work is for foreign clients and international markets, which are craving for new connected appliances such as thermostats, locks, etc.

We were also involved in Smart home group organized by Slovenian Chamber of commerce and industry, where we got to meet a lot of Slovenian companies which work in this field. Slovenia as a country has big plans in updating its infrastructure to become smarter and this group was organized to help them with creating a brief and a roadmap. I think Slovenia has a lot to offer in this field, which will become apparent in months to come.

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Do you have a typical type of client?

We love working with all kinds of clients. From small startups to big multinational companies. In the end you always have one person you talk to. If the project is interesting we will take it. We also work with a lot of advertising agencies so maybe our typical client could be an advertising agency.

Can you describe your agency in three words?

  • Flexible -> we try to offer the most to every client and every project
  • Smart -> working smart is better than working more
  • Curious -> Always exploring new ideas and possibilities

What are the best practices to develop excellent customer relationship?

I believe in honest and open relationships. Also there has to be some chemistry between the client and the agency. If that is not there, no relationship can last. My best practices are: be honest and mean what you say, talk openly and speak your mind, if you don’t feel a connection end it asap.

Can you give me an example of when you have worked with multiple clients at the same time and how did you managed?

One example? We do that all the time managing clients is not an easy task, there are people involved which is always a gamble. Communicating quickly and efficiently, anticipating problems and offering solutions is what keeps you going.

We usually assign a key contact person in our agency who talks to the client so they develop a bond. When that is achieved, working with a client becomes almost as hanging out with a friend.

Can you share an example where you have had to resolve an issue between a creative team and a client?

Creatives usually fall for an idea and develop it well beyond the client’s needs and expectations. And that is not always a good thing. Key to every project is having a capable project manager which knows client needs and can steer the creative team to fill those.

We had a project once where client demanded the project to be done in a old school way without any “trendy” features such as responsiveness, retina ready, etc. Creative team just wasn’t buying it, because that was obviously not the best choice for clients customers. It started with a bang but finished with fanfare. We launched version 1.0 (according to client wishes) after which client quickly realized that we were right, so we launched 2.0 (our version) shortly after. Everybody was happy in the end.

What is the communication style within your team? Do you use any apps or tools?

I like my team to talk as much as possible because I believe much is lost when people keep to themselves. We use Skype for inside/outside communication, we use Asana in collaboration with Instagantt for task management and we use Harvest for time and project tracking. Besides that we have weekly meetings and monthly align meetings where the whole team aligns in the right direction. All communication is laid back, because the most important thing is to get the information thru.

How do you monitor and review the delegated responsibilities?

We monitor Asana which gives us a task overview per project and per person. The Asana also syncs with Harvest so we have an insight how much time is used on each task. We follow daily activities of the team so we quickly pickup if there are any issues. Every created task has an assignee and a deadline, those are key elements. Everyone is responsible for their own tasks and have to finish them by the given deadline.

How would you deal with an angry customer?

I don’t. I usually wait for people to cool down and then discuss the issues. In the heat of the moment everybody thinks that they are right and there is no way of solving it then. What is a big no-go is solving problems via email or text. People are social species and communicating with email or in person where you can see facial expressions and body language is worlds apart.

How do you communicate bad news?

Quickly and straight to the point. No point in sugar coating.

Name a challenge your team is currently facing.

As usual, catching a tight deadline for a mobile app launch because some changes in the market, which made it vital to the client to launch as soon as possible. We will dedicate as many people to the project as possible and find smart solutions to make it happen. I like working under pressure, makes you more resourceful and creative.

What piece of advice would you give a recent grad looking to work in digital marketing?

Start working asap, paid or for free, doesn’t mather. The key is to understand the business and get some work done on real projects. Don’t wait for that golden opportunity, start working in the business asap, just to be around it and you will figure it out from there.

Are there online publications, professionals, industry leaders you follow?

Elon Musk is a true revolutionary, I like what he has to say. I read the mainstream tech news outlets such as the verge, gizmodo, techcrunch etc. Also love reading Medium and Qz.com.

Please list a few of your favourite digital brands:

N26, Facebook, Amazon,…

What do you like doing in your free time?

My work is my free time and my free time is my work. So besides work, I love riding motorcycles, spearfishing and just enjoying leisure time with my girlfriend and our poodle Dolly.

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By Geny Caloisi.
genyc@topinteractiveagencies.com

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