Natalya Podgoretskaya: Exporting Success
‘Foreigners have lots of illusions about the Russian market and its business and consumer culture.
Published: April 10, 2014 (Issue # 1805)
Export management is an emerging and exciting business, says Natalya Podgoretskaya, the founder and the head of the Direct business communications agency. After only five years, Direct has already achieved success, with branches of the company now in countries around the world. The idea of export management is new to the Russian market. Very few companies in Russia dare to help their clients conquer foreign markets and develop their business abroad. Podgoretskaya is unafraid of the problems that arise from such endeavors. In fact, she welcomes the challenge and makes the most out of working in difficult circumstances.
Podgoretskaya spoke to The St. Petersburg Times about her company, what she had learned from the economic crisis and what it’s like to be a woman in big business.
Q: How did the idea of Direct emerge? Was this your first business venture?
A: Yes, Direct is my first company. In 2009, the agency specialized in PR and advertising. As time passed, more and more of our projects led to marketing. One of our foreign clients in 2011 inspired us to try export management, when you handle a client’s business in a foreign region. This means being completely responsible for marketing and sales. Of course, we learned a lot from working with foreign companies and some things we learned on our own.
Q: Your agency was created in 2009 during the economic crisis. Did it have an impact on the development of your business?
A: Sure. That experience was difficult but I’m now grateful for it. It took away all my youthful pride before it had a chance to develop. It’s like pouring cold water on yourself. During a crisis the client has higher demands for the quality of services and is more aware of their budget. As a result you are in a situation where you are either the best or you fail. We’re still close to many of the clients with whom we worked during this period.
Q: Was it difficult to promote your business at first?
A: It was not easy. We developed the format and carefully investigated the market. Export management was quite a new industry at that time and people regarded it with suspicion. Consulting companies in Russia provide information about the availability of the client’s desired export but they don’t guarantee business with foreign partners. We give this guarantee if the client is deemed successful and our foreign specialists give a positive forecast for the Russian company’s prospects in that particular market. Moreover, we provide the client with a private manager abroad, conduct all negotiations and continue to support and promote the company after their items start selling.
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