Sharon Melamed of Matchboard tells us how they find businesses the best solutions for their needs, using their award-winning matching technology.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Matchboard.
Sharon Melamed: 10 years ago, I founded Matchboard – the B2B services equivalent of a dating site. Entrepreneurship was always in my blood, but most of my career was with a Japanese entrepreneurial company that went from startup to unicorn status on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. I ran their global business development from New York and lived and worked in 5 countries. Through this overseas experience, I got exposure to different cultures and ways of doing business, and I embedded the approaches that resonated with me the most in my startup.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Sharon Melamed: My experience with the Japanese taught me the importance of developing long-term relationships of trust, and that’s something I focus on in all aspects of my life. I also love the concept of “kizukai” –the idea of being thoughtful and considerate and pre-empting others’ needs.
A small habit I practice almost daily is a 1-hour walk in nature. It’s a great reliever of stress and an opportunity to clear the mind of day-to-day tasks and think creatively. Thankfully I live near a park I call the Garden of Eden as it’s full of animals – geese, swans, ducks, turtles, bats, dogs, and more – living in harmony with humans. I’m very much about harmony in life and business and have never had a legal action.
How does Matchboard market its product/services online?
Sharon Melamed: Like most online businesses, Matchboard relies heavily on SEO, so staying on top of the ever-changing Google algorithms is critical. We also have a great referral partner program that financially rewards people for introductions and a newsletter with several thousand subscribers that always generates repeat business. But Matchboard wouldn’t be where it is today without LinkedIn, which has been instrumental to its growth. We once did a calculation, using 12 months of data, that for every 1 hour spent on LinkedIn marketing, we generated more than $500 in revenues back. That’s a great ROI!
We’ve also won more than a dozen business awards (including Australia’s Business of the Year and Innovation of the Year). These award logos are badges of trust that enhance all our online marketing initiatives.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Sharon Melamed: Every year, we end up taking out another subscription to a tool that enhances our productivity or performance. We use Mailchimp for email marketing, Survey Monkey for surveys, Canva for graphic design, and where we would be without Google Analytics, which enables us to track our marketing efforts and predict revenue based on the Goals function. I also love the Real-time feature to observe how customers navigate the website. We’re now trialing a proactive chat function where we can intercept a session to offer the user additional information or assistance.
How are you funding your growth?
Sharon Melamed: Matchboard has won numerous Government grants to expand its business internationally, but we are profitable and otherwise self-funded. We’ve had massive growth through the pandemic as companies have sought out a range of services on our platforms, such as offshore staffing and digital marketing. COVID also prompted many businesses to re-evaluate their supplier relationships and find smarter, better value-for-money alternatives.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Sharon Melamed: From an SEO perspective, we have the dilemma of any marketplace, which is that we are competing with our own ecosystem of suppliers. To stay ahead, we spend more money on SEO than any other form of marketing.
While we were a pioneer of B2B matchmaking in Australia, a bunch of copycat companies have sprung up, which I see as both a compliment and a threat. We always try to have something unique that’s hard to copy. I have to say our business model, which is based on trusting our suppliers to report their wins to us honestly, is a radical differentiator. We make our money from matching buyers and suppliers but only when a deal takes place. As deals take place outside our platform, having relationships of trust with suppliers is critical. Everyone told me this model was crazy when I set up the business, but the proof’s in the pudding – it works!
Another competitive differentiator – which actually doesn’t cost anything – is the speed of service. When companies are in the market to buy a service, they want options immediately. So we aim to get back to clients who use our website in minutes. People are constantly amazed by this, as unfortunately, too many companies take days to address a web form sales inquiry.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Sharon Melamed: Success happens when everyone is happy with the outcome – the buyer, the buyer’s customers, the supplier, and of course, Matchboard as the “matchmaker .”One of the categories we’ve helped many companies with through the pandemic is finding staff to perform contact center and back-office roles offshore. For some companies, this is a question of survival to lower their costs. For others, it’s a case of not being able to find workers locally but leveraging talent available overseas. There’s no “best country,” or one size fits all, but one country where we’ve had so many success stories is Fiji. Fiji is just a few hours’ flights from Australia and New Zealand, with little or no difference in the time zone, and on a par cost-wise with the Philippines. The Fijians are loyal employees with a natural gift for customer service, and their English is fluent with a neutral accent. Through Matchboard, so many companies, from sectors like eCommerce, travel, and financial services, have found their “perfect match” provider in Fiji. The workers there are incredibly grateful for the opportunity of employment.
Your final thoughts.
Despite the terrible toll on people’s health, I think the pandemic has had a silver lining in that it’s forced most businesses to step back and look at things differently and be more open-minded. This has led to lots of exciting innovations, a more customer-centric, empathetic approach, and the adoption of new technologies enabling us to operate smarter and faster, which is a great thing!