Michael Ksela Redefining Marketing
In an exclusive cover story with grazIN magazine, our CEO and MarTech Hero Michael Ksela talks about SCOOP & SPOON’s unique philosophy, what it’s like to work at a leading international marketing brand, and how SCOOP & SPOON is revolutionising the corporate value chain with cutting-edge digital technology.
From right here in Graz, SCOOP & SPOON is revolutionising the corporate value chain with cutting-edge digital technology. Founder, CEO and “MarTech Hero” Michael Ksela explains how.
The COVID-19 situation has accelerated the shift towards digitalisation around the world. How do you see what’s currently happening?
We’re experiencing an intensified, accelerated development today that can only be countered with a high level of expertise. Digitalisation is changing our society – our working relationships, processes, products and services – and opening a range of new creative possibilities for the exchange processes between companies and their customers. In 2005, I founded SCOOP & SPOON in Graz, and we’ve become one of the largest, most innovative independent marketing brands in Europe. Our team, spread across five European locations, carries out projects for clients around the world, from the Austrian National Tourist Office to the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
The digital industry is one of the few winners of 2020. SCOOP & SPOON’s solutions were popular internationally and highly sought after. In 2020, you were also voted among the most influential marketing technology drivers in the world. Congratulations is in order!
Yes, we were able to show our customers what kind of company we are and win several renowned industry awards with our projects, modules and solutions. The approaches that we’ve been using for years – and that our team has been successfully implementing – were recognised worldwide.
Can you describe these approaches in more detail?
Digital solutions are leading the way in developing and implementing marketing strategies, whether for a company’s digital events or its digital ecosystem. We digitise from a marketing perspective. It’s important to define the technological requirements in such a way that marketing-oriented system architects and requirement engineers can successfully carry out their projects in line with the marketing strategy. That’s why SCOOP & SPOON developed a variety of methods and tools that we call the “New SCOOP Marketing Landscape”. Customers find pinpoint solutions that provide them with orientation in the digitalisation process and, at the same time, recommend actions for marketing experts.
How can we imagine your marketing strategy and these various solutions?
Based on our experience, we’ve developed new digital marketing instruments. These cover a range of processes, from data accessibility, limitless interaction and customer profiling, on the one end of the spectrum, to new methods and business models on the other. It doesn’t matter whether it’s with headless API approaches, microservice architectures or separating content from technology. What’s important is making complex relationships accessible to our clients, which helps them successfully digitise their business. When a company succeeds in digitising its value chain in such a way that systemic communication with its customers becomes possible, we call this “The Beauty of Marketing”.
What distinguishes your solutions from those of conventional providers?
Traditionally, websites have been based on sitemaps. This means users have to follow the mental model of a company, which has usually created the sitemap based on its own structure. Users can only navigate the website through predefined paths. But SCOOP & SPOON’s latest internet technologies offer a much wider range of tools and control variables, all of which give users the freedom and opportunity to consume a company’s content according to their own mental model. For example, we use artificial intelligence, coupled with new interaction mechanisms, for customer profiling. The combined effect is that the user can move freely in a digital ecosystem and, in the end, consume the content that they really want.
You’ve also entered “classic” areas and developed an event platform?
Prompted by the pandemic, we started applying our digital expertise to events in 2020. A hybrid approach is still important to us, as everything that works for a classic event should stay so in the future. Today, digital event platforms are becoming year-round tools for companies, and this will continue to be the case in the future. It’s crucial that on digital platforms, event participants become users wanting to interact with the content. While knowledge and information gain can be better presented in a digital environment, background discussions and personal encounters can’t be replaced. We won the European Digital Award in 2020 with our SCOOP 360° event platform, a good example for new hybrid events.
What’s another example?
Take the emotional presentation of Austria as a tourist destination. The Austrian National Tourist Office presents a very professional picture of the “Austrian brand”, so we’re pleased we were able to get a worldwide audience excited about our beautiful country with breath-taking 360° rooms and the associated intelligent functionalities.
What does SCOOP & SPOON’s slogan “Crafted by Humans” mean?
Our credo “Crafted by Humans” describes our company’s core spirit: Our employees, the people who do their work every day with love and passion. Day in and day out, they’re the ones who live our core values: creativity and concentration.
How do you get your employees to do such great work?
We don’t see our employees as resources, because you don’t build relationships with resources. But it’s the relationships with our employees and the relationships with each other that are the strength of our team. As humans, we develop and evolve not only through our own efforts, but through our relationships with others. In today’s fast-paced world, these relationships are more important than ever. Relationships transcend all physical borders and lead to a unique team spirit that spans half of Europe.
Can you describe your leadership philosophy?
Our leadership philosophy is based on the principles of “Positive Leadership”. For us that means instead of focusing on weaknesses and building a culture of mistakes, we emphasise strengths and promote a culture of learning. We don’t manage employees. We lead people, responsibly and with mutual trust. We recognise their effort, and we encourage them. People flourish only if they can live and experience their strengths every day. We’re convinced that nothing strengthens a person more than the trust we place in them. We focus on positive emotions, encourage commitment, pay attention to mutual relationships, communicate the meaning of our work and celebrate the goals we achieve together.
You also have a training programme for your employees?
Our Academy of Excellence, created by CFO Sabine Ksela, offers our employees space and time for a sustainable learning experience. We inspire each other, grow with each other and strive for excellence. “We rise by lifting others”. With this motto, we share our knowledge, best practices and experiences. It’s only by offering personal and professional development to our teams that we can grow and achieve excellence together. That’s what sets us apart.
What makes you stand out as an employer?
Our interdisciplinary teams, from all of our locations, are always working on innovative, international projects for large, globally relevant brands. Employees have the chance to grow and develop in the process. Flat hierarchies, intercultural collaboration, a mobile office policy (independent of location), flexible working hours and regular team events (in normal, non-pandemic times). All of this rounds off our offer as an employer.