When you encounter “calm waters” in business know it’s time for change – interview with Vladimir, Filip, and Dimitar

Check out the interview with our management team for the most popular business portal in the country, Faktor.mk 

In 2023, the digital agency Piksel marked 10 years since its foundation. After firmly positioning itself on the market as a reliable partner for strategic, creative, and consulting solutions for the needs of companies from various industries, Piksel has grown into a full-service company that today includes digital and traditional marketing in its wide portfolio of services. Their creative solutions continuously attract the attention of local and regional audiences and the marketing professionals who join their team.

In this interview, we talk to the co-owners of Piksel: Filip Ristevski, Partner and General Manager, Vladimir Ristevski, Partner and Creative Director, and Dimitar Jovevski, Partner and General Business Development Director.

We talked with the three partners about the origins, the company mission and vision, their market strategy, the challenges they face during economic changes, and their creative identity and point of view on new trends and technologies. Along the way, we discovered how a digital marketing company transforms and grows in this market.

Filip, as a partner in charge of managing the company, you play a key role in its positioning in the market. Can you share the story of the initial capsule for the birth of the Piksel?

Filip: Piksel has two birthdays. 🙂 The first is related to the company registration in March 2011, when we had the idea of developing a digital product. In exactly two years of trying to come up with an MVP solution to offer on the market and working on several things simultaneously, we started receiving requests from our acquaintances to perform services in the digital sphere.

Back then, requests were based on content creation, managing profiles on social networks, and creating and maintaining web pages, as services that gained momentum at the time.

In such a situation, we naturally saw the need for a company to appear on the market that, instead of being product-oriented, would focus on offering digital services from the sphere of marketing, design, and development. This ties in with the second birthday of Piksel, April 1, 2013, when we started operating as a service company. That’s the official “birthday” we celebrated last year.

But what is most important in the story of the “birth” of Piksel is the core drive – to make something of our own that will be recognized and work in the way that my partners and I would like it to work. A healthy working environment focused on people and an offer for customers as an added value in digital services.

business change Filip Ristevski - Piksel

The decade was marked by serious economic tectonic shifts, including the pandemic, an effect that was strongly felt in your industry. Despite the enormous financial challenges, as a company you managed not only to stabilize and cushion the effects but also to continue business growth and development. How did you manage this?

Filip: As a company that works with many clients on the domestic market, we face different challenges than those that do their business on the world market. Maybe we were a little lucky that until that moment we were more focused on digital services. During the pandemic these were the types of services that companies had to develop to survive in the market. Accordingly, we had somewhat of an advantage over those who offered mostly traditional services, primarily in marketing and design.

Thanks to the attitude that investments are made in times of crisis, we managed to grow during this period and not only to double but also to triple the number of employees and revenues. We entered with an offer of more traditional activities at the request of satisfied customers. This positioned us as a different company in the Macedonian market, offering a wide portfolio of digital and traditional services.

Over the years, although primarily functioning as a digital marketing agency, Piksel has grown into a full-service company that includes both digital and traditional marketing in its full portfolio of services. Did this merger come about spontaneously or was it the subject of a development strategy?

Dimitar: Spontaneity is a feature of short-termism, and strategy is a feature of planning. As we matured as a company, over the years we developed business units that we felt were necessary for the new era and the technological progress of the company’s operations.

Today, under one roof, we have 3 business units closely related to each other and at the client’s service to help them advance in their digital maturity through software development, design (UI&UX), and marketing (traditional and digital).

In the field of marketing, our key expertise is in the field of digital technologies. But today in the marketing sphere, an integrated/multi-channel approach to end consumers is crucial, and this is precisely the area where we plan to invest and develop in 2024.

business change Dimitar Jovevski - Piksel

Vladimir, as creative director and partner, your vision plays a key role in the company’s business success. Can you share the creative strategies that have helped Piksel develop its creative signature that also receives regional accolades?

My role in shaping Piksel’s creative vision involves a multifaceted strategy, in which our desire for growth and scalability plays a key role. Whenever we encounter “still waters” we know it’s time to make a change. And we, as business managers, usually start the changes with our training and improvement, which has so far proven to be a successful formula.

That is why we also invest in training the team with which we jointly recognize and apply permanent trends. Our work mantra is simple: first, we must believe in our ideas, then we shape them according to the project’s needs in Piksel style, and finally, we present them to our clients.

In this process, our key guides are the lessons learned from previous projects and campaigns. But we don’t stop there, we are open to learning from other people’s lessons. That’s why we are often present at various events, visit successful companies abroad, and cooperate with consultants.

Piksel’s diverse culture also permeates our work with clients, with whom we build strong relationships through a different, consultative approach. Their trust helps us work actively on their positioning towards the external public and on improving internal processes through digitization and automation.

business change Vladimir Ristevski - Piksel

What is your message for the future, not only for Piksel but for the entire industry, one helpful piece of advice to share regarding reaching digital maturity?

Filip: I would advise companies that use development, marketing, and design services. That is to be more courageous and relaxed in accepting what comes as a proposal from us who are on the other side of the process. Us, who offer services. Our goal is to see our customers succeed in the market, so they should not be afraid to accept innovations from experts who are there for them.

Vladimir: The sooner you start learning a digital skill, the sooner you will realize the beauty and necessity of it. You don’t need to be an expert in everything, it’s enough to know where to start. It’s easier when you understand things and have a vision. Then all you have to do is reach out to us. 🙂

Dimitar: From an individual point of view – never stop learning and working on your personal development. And from a business point of view, I am convinced that synergy is always greater than individualism!

Skala and Piksel have announced the opening of a new digital marketing academy

Digital marketing enthusiasts now have a new opportunity for quality theoretical and practical education thanks to the partnership project of the leading School of Design and Technology, Skala, and the leading company in the field of digital marketing in Macedonia, Piksel. The new digital marketing academy will enable students to learn how to create and implement effective strategies for the digital promotion of brands, products, and services.

The curriculum will cover all aspects of digital marketing, such as SEO, SEM, SMM, email marketing, content marketing, analytics and measurement, and many other vital skills to master the profession’s challenges comprehensively. Students will have the opportunity to work on real projects with Piksel customers and receive mentoring and advice from experienced lecturers from the company.

digital marketing academy

The academy will last six months, of which three months are planned for theoretical teaching and three months for practical work. Upon successful completion of the academy, trainees will receive a digital marketer certificate and employment opportunities at Piksel or other digital marketing agencies.

Dimitar Jovevski, partner and director of business development at Piksel, said, “We are very excited about this project because we believe that digital marketing is one of the key skills for modern business. With this academy, we want to share our knowledge and experience with the new generation of digital marketers, who will be able to contribute to the realization of the vision of many companies striving for growth and greater competitiveness in global markets.”

digital marketing academy

“This morning, I passed through Maksim Gorki Street in Skopje, past the popular avenue of Japanese cherry trees that will soon color the street with their distinctive pink flowers. But we will never have the opportunity to taste the fruit of that flower. It is only a grafted aesthetic correction of the remains of wooden columns.

If I continue with a botanical metaphor, the grafting of Skala and Piksel is not just an aesthetic correction but an essential connection for juicy and tasty fruit. We reached key conclusions that we will apply in this academic program. We go scale by scale with knowledge, experience, and synergy. Cheers,” says Dejan Jolev, founder and executive director of Skala Academy.”

digital marketing academy

Skala (formerly “Jolev and the Arts”) has been operating as a School of Design and Technology for 12 years, focused on developing and implementing progressive educational programs and practices in the creative industries. With a commitment to innovation, they integrate new digital technologies and methods into the educational process, creating experiences that prepare students for the challenges of modern society.

digital marketing agency

In 2023, Piksel marked ten years since its founding as a digital marketing agency whose creative solutions continuously attract the attention of local and regional audiences and the marketing professionals who join its team. After firmly positioning itself as a reliable partner for strategic, creative, and consulting solutions for the needs of companies from various industries, Piksel today is a full-service company that includes both digital and traditional marketing in its broad portfolio of services.

digital marketing academy

For more information and to register for the Digital Marketing Academy, visit the website skala.edu.mk/akademija-za-digitalen-marketing/ or contact the Skala team at phone number 076 266 740 or by email at info@skala.school

Big thanks to CrnoBelo for the media support.

Enes Karakash, our proud representative at SoMo Borac two years in a row 

Fresh from the buzz of SoMo Borac 2022 in Zagreb, Piksel had a story to tell, an exciting one. Last year’s edition gathered 221 award applications in various categories.  

Piksel attended the award ceremony and was one of the winners in the “Best Storytelling” category with the project created for the needs of the campaign of the three pension companies called “Plant a wish,” which was Piksel’s first entry in a regional competition.   

This year’s edition received over 230 applications for the SoMo Borac Awards in the SoMo Advertising and SoMo Media groups. А full-day conference was held for the first time, with more than 30 regional and international experts sharing their knowledge and experiences. The feedback is still coming in.  

In this interview, we talk with Enes Karakash, Head of Marketing at Piksel and a jury member at this year’s SoMo Borac Awards. We’ll dig into his insights on the exceptional projects, the challenges faced by the jury, and what these events mean for the dynamic digital marketing industry.   

Can you share the key elements that you believe contributed to the success of the storytelling campaign that won last year’s SoMo Borac award?  

The key elements that brought us this award are probably the ones that were the most challenging during the creation of the campaign concept. 🙂 You know, the classics – How to reinvent something already seen and done throughout the years?  

But, as the saying goes, The harder the struggle, the greater the reward. And the result of our creative struggle was indeed different in every way possible, focused on Storytelling through the growing-up of the main character, closely connected with the target audience and all the elements that followed that story, which gave the campaign a whole new life and meaning. 

Design for Sava Penzisko's 'Zasadi Zelba'

What was your team’s approach to crafting a compelling narrative that resonates with the target audience?  

It all started with the simple question – Why? Why would a campaign about pension companies and funds provoke interest among the target audience and not be just another yearly educational campaign that quickly fades into forgiveness? As a bonus, from the very beginning, although nothing was guaranteed, we set the objectives for the next two iterations of the same campaign. This approach added value to the campaign and the client, in this case, the three private pension companies in our country. 

How do you determine the most effective channels for delivering a storytelling campaign, and how has that evolved with changing media landscapes?  

As everything evolves, everything stays the same in the marketing world. 😊 We were motivated by the everyday habits of the target audience and focused our effort on digital channels, mainly social media. But, the real joy to do and see were the plantings of new Pension parks in multiple middle-school yards throughout the country done together by the pension companies’ representatives and the pupils.   

zasadi zelba somo borac

As part of the jury committee, what criteria did you consider when evaluating this year’s campaigns?  

This year, for the first time in the decade-long history of SoMoBorac, the jury members were divided into separate teams so every member could evaluate in three categories. That made the task a bit easier but also gave me time to give each submission a more detailed look.    

For me, the main criteria were creativity and the implementation of new technologies to tell stories in a completely new way.   

Given the increasing number of submissions this year, how did the jury at SoMo Borac approach the challenging task of selecting the shortlisted projects in your appointed categories SoMo Web, SoMo Tech, and SoMoritanac?  

Something that the SoMoBorac organizers should be proud of is the system of voting that doesn’t leave room for speculation and the question – How in the hell did this campaign make it to the final? It’s simple – every jury member evaluates, often leaving comments and opinions about the submission. We even had the case of a campaign being completely scratched from the submitted category because it didn’t meet some of the main criteria we were looking for.   

As a jury committee member, what qualities did you look for in the campaigns that stood out to you?  

As I said before, creativity and new technologies. And, for a category such as SoMoritanac, a story that made a difference, promoting an issue that helped the ones that really needed that help, and hit all the right buttons on emotional and empathy levels. 

In what ways do you think the projects showcased at SoMo Borac reflect the current trends and challenges in the digital marketing landscape?  

Every new SoMo Borac is practically a case study of the evolution of the region’s digital landscape. A ‘case study’ that proves that this region is full of creative marketing people capable of producing world-class campaigns. Like this one: 

Based on your experience as a jury member, what common mistakes do you see?  

Trying to tell too many cool things they’ve done in the short 3-minute window that is allowed. Future tip for everyone – make it short, sweet, and to the point. And try to do it in 120 seconds.   

Did being on the other side of the process influence how you approach marketing campaigns now?  

Being on the other side just reminded me of why we do what we do. And that is to give our clients and brands a new scene to shine and add value with every campaign segment. 

As a marketing professional, how do you perceive the role of events like SoMo Borac in bridging the gap between regional markets and global standards in digital media?  

Looking at everything that marketers from the region created in the last couple of years, I don’t see that gap at all. 

What key insights or takeaways from the SoMo Borac Awards do you believe will influence the future strategies and campaigns at Piksel?  

Innovation and uniqueness. That is the way, the only way.   

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