Pandemic-driven success pushes agency to 403% growth

Pandemic-driven success pushes agency to 403% growth

/ 02:55 PM May 12, 2023

The Covid-19 pandemic—which caused physically- and economically-crippling lockdowns in the Philippines in 2020 and 2021—had an upside. The adverse health situation caused the demand for digital services and e-commerce to spike. One beneficiary of this demand pivot was Streamlined Campaigns (SC), a Manila-headquartered digital marketing agency founded in 2017 by Kaiser Estrada, an ex-SGV tax and risk auditor, an alumnus of the Hult International Business School London, and one of the Circle of Excellence Awardees as Young Leader of the Year in the Asia CEO Awards in 2022. And a millennial.

SC’s independent auditor, Rechelle M. Faraon, CPA, reported revenue growth of 403 percent for the company as of January 2023, beginning January 2020, according to Estrada. Ive always been interested in marketing, even back when I was taking up my accountancy course,” said the CEO, who had a bunch of side hustles related to marketing and promotion during his college days. “My interest in marketing grew when I pursued my master’s degree in international business at Hult in 2016 to 2017, and I really could see the potential of digital marketing and the impact it could have on businesses. Here in the Philippines, there was so much unrealized potential back then. A lot of companies weren’t open to digital marketing nor did they see digital marketing the way I did. This sea of opportunities made me consider making a name in the industry. And thats how SC Philippines was born.”


Streamlined Campaigns CEO Kaiser Estrada at the 2022 Asia CEO Awards

Starting with zero clients and two people in a 10-square-meter space six years ago, SC—now an agency of 30 team members occupying a 200-square-meter office—provides marketing services to notable brands such as RiteMED Philippines, Bistro Group, Efficascent Oil, Sunpride Foods, LifeFood (the nutraceutical brand of Unilab), Casino Ethyl Alcohol, Bioderm Germicidal Soap and Mestiza Soap.

“It was an impressive achievement—especially since almost half of those five years were plagued by the pandemic,” recalled Estrada about the business side of SC’s growth. Clad in his daily CEO uniform, a black t-shirt covering deltoids and pectorals constructed by heavy lifting, he cradles a wine glass during the interview with this writer at a business networking event in a culinary school in BGC, Taguig City. Of course, the pandemic drove everyone to go digital—this gave us great momentum. But thats just half of the story. The other half was really hard work. During the pandemic, we focused on delivering high-quality work to our clients. When we talk of quality, it doesn’t only include the quality of content but also the quality of the strategies and troubleshooting that we prepared for our clients. The market was unpredictable back then so we had to do a lot of troubleshooting or realignment of marketing plans for our clients. Our quality of work enabled us to build a good relationship with our clients and this led to a better reputation for the company. Hard work, a good relationship with our clients, and a strong reputation really helped us grow and scale up.”

On the personal side, the business extracted a heavy toll on Estrada. “It took a ton of discipline, patience, and accountability. Discipline, because I had to set certain standards for myself so I could lead by example and find the time to do a lot of things. Patience, because during the pandemic, it was a challenge to recruit and train people. And back then I had to wear many hats. I was a marketing executive, HR person, sales person, and everything in between, because we didnt have a lot of employees back then. This taught me how to be accountable,” he said. 

The young founder’s formula for success has been based on three pillars: technology, relationships and people. We prioritized leveraging technology. We slowly, but surely, built exceptional client relationships,” said Estrada. “We listened. It’s important to us to really hear, pinpoint, and address the exact needs of our clients. Giving that positive experience to our clients paved the way for getting more referrals. And not just that—our clients provided us with a steady stream of work because they retain our services. We also prioritized having people in our team that are knowledgeable about the relevant technology that our business could use in order to serve our clients well. I didnt look for perfection in a prospective employee. I learned that perfection could be very subjective. Instead, I scouted people with a heart for the industry and whose goals aligned with ours.”

Supporting the three pillars of SC were three key agency characteristics that enabled it to beat other startups (and a few established shops, as well): proactiveness, strategic thinking and adaptability. “We anticipated challenges before they arrived and prepared for them. We were strategic by taking risks on new ideas, being fearless by implementing innovative solutions and making unique pitches. And we were adaptable because we embraced new ways of thinking, working and behaving,” explained Estrada, who was featured as a mentor for participants in “The Final Pitch” on CNN Philippines last year.   

Indeed, Estrada has proven that if a company prioritizes innovation, creativity, and flexibility over established business practices and norms and doesn’t confine its people in a 9 to 5 setup, that company can thrive. “Micromanaging is not in our culture. That’s not how we foster creativity,” he affirmed. “At SC, we work during our most productive hours and in an environment that’s most conducive to our work style— even if it doesn’t fit the 9 to 5 norm. Until now, SC still does this and I think it really makes a difference. Being out there in the market really gives us inspiration and an opportunity to really grasp what kind of market that we are dealing with for our clients. And best of all, this setup provides the work and life balance that most people look for.”

In preparation for the years ahead, SC’s people are equipping themselves with the latest tools that will enhance their ability to provide better services for clients. SC management’s plan to bolster its influencer marketing network is already in motion, as the agency is at the stage where it has already assembled the tools to expand its influencer list. “Influencer marketing will continue to grow and this is how we prepare for it. Aside from that, SC regularly participates in industry seminars that discuss and introduce new digital tools that we can master and use to be a more efficient marketing agency. Most importantly, SC aims to be forever agile—agile enough to steer our way toward opportunities that suddenly appear,” said Estrada.

The CEO, facing a future fraught with unknowns and challenges, further declared: “The creative industry is one of the most adaptable industries in the world. It continuously evolves and grows according to ever-changing market preferences. Right now we’re looking at an increase in the use of immersive technology—virtual reality and interactive experiences—and the continued growth of influencer marketing, and a greater emphasis on storytelling. While its true that the use of AI is on the rise, theres one thing that bots cannot capture—human emotion. Thats why I will still put emphasis on effective storytelling.”   


TAGS: Asia CEO Awards, BrandRoom, pandemic

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