Our VP of Partnerships Zak Pines recently sat down with Leigh Whitney, Managing Director for Konstructive, as part of our ongoing Partner Interview Series. Zak and Leigh had a far-ranging conversation that touched on trends in retail and professional services marketing; working in the oil and gas sector versus web design; and using Formstack as a single point of entry for secure data collection, connected to customer CRMs. Here’s an abridged transcript of the chat.
Konstructive: Web Design for Retail & Professional Services
Zak: Can you start by telling me about Konstructive?
Leigh: Konstructive is a web design and build agency. We are focussed on the retail and professional services sectors and have been doing this for over 20 years.
Zak: How do you look at the landscape that you’re working in today with customers?
Leigh: Software is starting to mature, and there are so many different tech platforms from content management systems to eCommerce. The pace of business change is accelerating with an ever-increasing need for integrations with other systems. In the agency and consulting world, we need to have the knowledge and the toolkit to adapt and move quickly against ever-increasing demands from our clients.
Zak: What trends specifically are you seeing in the retail space?
Leigh: The biggest shift we’ve seen is retailers realizing all the elements involved in going global. It’s not just about switching on multiple currencies. It’s about the people, process, and technology. It’s delivering local language across multiple regions. Jurisdictional elements of tax. Localizing promotional schedules. There is a lot more involved than you might think at first.
There’s also a lot more integration—say, with CRM systems. There’s security and single sign-on. Tightening up security around GDPR and Section 508. There’s a need and demand for retail marketers to merchandise, personalize, target, and track consumers in their behavior, while balancing privacy requirements such as GDPR.
Zak: Well said, Leigh. I like the point you just made to recap that. How about in professional services, is that the B2B space?
Leigh: Professional services encompass law firms, accountancy firms, and real estate marketing organizations. And yes, the key question for these firms becomes, “How do you remain engaged over a longer period of time so you maintain interest when the customer is looking to buy?” The brand needs to maintain that relationship and engagement often over extended periods of time. This requires demonstration of knowledge, insight, and thought leadership.
Technically speaking, it involves progressively capturing data and feeding that into sales and marketing systems such as Salesforce, HubSpot, or Marketo so you can track it and put it to use. Then you want to leverage that data to both segment your database and personalize their content and experience over time.
Zak: What are the roles of your typical customers inside their organization?
Leigh: Usually it’s marketing at first. We then help the customer to engage IT and security and other parts of the organization, as required, to help the marketing teams realize their goals.
Zak: How about geographic focus?
Leigh: We are headquartered in the UK. Sometimes I wish we had more specific focus. We are working with customers across all of Europe and the east coast of the US. We have a number of clients in New York and Washington DC, for example.
Leigh’s Background & Role at Konstructive
Zak: You mentioned that the agency has been around for over 20 years. How was it started?
Leigh: Christian, our Creative Director, set up the business around 1997. It was very much a creative organization at that time. The Internet was taking off.
I joined around 2000. We were early adopters of big CMS platforms such as Broadvision and Vignette. We coded websites using technologies such as ColdFusion and C++.
One of our first clients was FreeServe, the AOL of the UK. We built their warehouses and marketplaces. We’ve been at the forefront of the web throughout our 20 years.
Zak: And what is your role specifically?
Leigh: I’m the Managing Director. So I load the dishwasher every now and again [laughs]. Our Commercial Director, Robert Barnes, handles sales and marketing activities, and I focus more on the management of the organization, the technical team, and product development.
Zak: What does the organization of those internal teams look like?
Leigh: Our technical teams are organized by the underlying technology. We have a PHP team looking after Magento and WordPress. Our Java team works on Magnolia, Commerce Kit, and Java-oriented products.
Alongside that, we have our creative service team. They are doing services such as A/B testing, UX, wireframing, design, SEO, WCAG, and website audits.
Zak: What were you doing prior to Konstructive?
Leigh: I was in a totally different section—the oil and gas industry. I wrote data warehouses. I was part of the team that developed ISO data models for the sector, working between Shell, BP, and Oracle. We built the largest data warehouses for offshore oil rig and refinery.
Zak: Wow. How do you compare the agency world to those days?
Leigh: [Laughs] Well, agencies can be hard, but they are a lot easier than oil and gas. In oil and gas software, you have literally zero margin for error. That crane costs a million dollars a day, so you absolutely cannot be late. It’s one of the reasons that we deliver our projects on time.
Single Point of Entry for Secure Data Collection, Connected to CRM
Zak: Do you recall when you started working with Formstack?
Leigh: Yes, it was about 18 months ago. Many customers are asking us for best practices around GDPR and Section 508 for data capture and security standards. What are the right ways to store and capture data? How do we govern that information?
We wanted a better solution for having a single entry point for data—one that could be synced to a CRM and/or a marketing automation system in order to maintain consistency across those environments.
We had some customers who had forms trigger emails that were not secure. With GDPR, we know a customer’s data needs to be secure both in transit and at rest.
Formstack helps solve that problem for us and our customers. It allows us to capture information and ensure it’s being encrypted and stored securely. Data you are capturing on your website is crucial as it’s an asset you’re building through your own first-party data.
We can capture the data and ensure it gets to the place we need it to go, such as a CRM system. If we need to notify people or they need access to the data captured, they can receive a notification and gain access. It helps us increase the trust a customer has in their data and the integration between data we capture on a website and their system of record, usually a CRM system.
Zak: You are a reseller partner using our parent account and sub-account model. Why was that a good fit for you?
Leigh: A couple of big reasons. As an agency, it allows us to have a single dashboard to manage all of our customers—who, in turn, have their own unique, secure accounts. This allows us to support our clients better and provides clear billing management with our accounts team.
Each customer can choose their own plan, and we know that their data is partitioned off into their own account, which is critical from a GDPR, security, and data protection standpoint.
Zak: Super! We’re seeing a lot of interest in this from our agency partners, and I’m glad to hear it’s working well for you. Do you have any specific customer examples you can share?
Leigh: Liberis Finance is using Formstack. They sell finance through payment devices to SME-type retail businesses. We built five separate websites for them using Magnolia CMS in just eight weeks.
We embed Formstack forms into the site for data capture, feeding to different departments based on the type of leads. Given the rapid turnaround—the first site was delivered in five weeks, and all the sites in eight—it helped tremendously to have a standard forms product and not be messing around with custom code. It also makes it much easier to evolve and manage for both us and the customer.
Zak: Let’s wrap up with the lightning round. What are some of your personal interests or hobbies?
Leigh: When I have time, I like golf. And last year I became a sailing instructor.
Zak: Do you have a productivity tip you can share?
Leigh: Turn off email. Also, ditch caffeine. In the summer, I went caffeine-free, and it’s been brilliant.
Zak: Be careful what you say, Leigh. I need that cup of coffee or two every morning. So I’m envious of you for that. What’s your favorite TV show?
Leigh: Whatever I can find on Netflix.
Zak: What’s your go-to lunch during the workday?
Leigh: Soup. Preferably something with red peppers.
Zak: And, last question, is a hot dog a sandwich?
Leigh: No. Well, hang on, let me think for a moment. OK, I guess it is.
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