Rafael Romis Says This Is the No. 1 Mistake That Online Businesses Make
It's all about the 'Unicorn Principle.'
In this series called Member Showcase, we publish interviews with members of The Oracles. This interview is with Rafael Romis, founder and CEO of Weberous, an award-winning web design agency in Los Angeles. It was condensed by The Oracles.
Who are you?
Rafael Romis: I was born and raised in Greece and studied and worked in London at a pharmaceutical company. When I was 21, the owner thought I was a corporate spy because I networked with so many suppliers — but that's a long story.
After a brief stint back in Greece, where I opened a retail store, I decided to move to Los Angeles. I found my home there in many ways. It's where I started my digital agency, Weberous, met my wonderful wife, adopted our dog, and recently welcomed our daughter.
In my two years running a marketing agency and seven years running Weberous, I have been involved in hundreds of digital projects, with clients ranging from startups all the way to billion-dollar corporations. I recently started Generate Culture, a consulting company where I share what I've learned.
Who was your biggest influence growing up?
Rafael Romis: My father. Growing up, I watched him run his retail businesses and work harder than anyone else to provide for us. At the same time, he made time to be present. He was always there and still is, though now it's via Skype since he lives in Greece.
Looking back, I still don't know how he did it. But that had such a powerful impact on me that since I was 10, I've wanted to be a business owner like him. That's when I started my first "business," repackaging and selling collectible NBA cards to my classmates.
What are you more skilled at than most people in the world?
Rafael Romis: I love people. I'm intrigued by them, so I listen closely and pay attention in every interaction I have with others. I find that knowing how to listen and really understanding what someone says is key for success, whether in sales, marketing, or life in general.
This has helped me immensely with clients and helps me capture our audiences through marketing campaigns every day. In addition to really hard work and several all-nighters, I would attribute much of my success to that.
What excites you the most about your business right now?
Rafael Romis: I'm about to publish a book about e-commerce. I've written many articles and given interviews and keynote speeches on the topic. Now I'm pulling it all together and writing about the four steps to a successful business: how to conceptualize, build, market, and grow it. You must master all four to really be successful.
I've been involved in hundreds of digital campaigns over the years. I've found that most businesses focus on marketing when it would be more beneficial to take a step back and evaluate their concept from the ground up. That will help drive decisions about everything else.
What's your favorite quote?
Rafael Romis: Former U.S. President Harry S. Truman said, "Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction." I've learned that if you have something good, you should use it. Then try to improve it afterward rather than wait for it to be perfect. This is true for pretty much anything, especially websites, business ideas, and marketing.
You have no idea what "perfect" truly means until you get feedback. Spending time creating what you think would be perfect may cost you more than you know.
What's the most common mistake you see in e-commerce?
Rafael Romis: Lack of clarity. This is true for most websites, but especially in e-commerce. If you cannot tell within seconds what the company does or sells — and why you should care — you're in trouble.
For example, almost every cosmetics brand shows their packaging at the top of their website. But unless the packaging speaks volumes about the brand, you've missed the boat. When we made the website for Jeffree Star Cosmetics, we used a big picture from one of his photoshoots instead. That's what you're really buying: the Jeffree Star look. The products are just a means to get there.
The same principle was true for Melt and many other startups we've helped make it big. They're successful because they know their audience deeply, and they focus on what makes them stand out with consumers at every touchpoint, online and offline.
What is your most important tip for e-commerce businesses?
Rafael Romis: "The Unicorn Principle." Identify something unique about you or your product that your audience cares about, and you'll make a lot of sales.
It sounds simple but most business owners get this wrong. They try to blindly copy a success story by selling something similar or marketing in a similar way because it worked for someone else. The trick is to find how you can be different. Then you don't have to worry about the competition overload, which exists in every industry. Instead, you can stand on your own, the king or queen of your audience.
How do you identify a good business partner?
Rafael Romis: It starts by understanding your own strengths and weaknesses. You want to find someone who is strong in the areas you're lacking and will complete the package. But you know what is almost equally as important? You need to like the person.
The more successful you become, the bigger the responsibilities that follow. There will be conflict, even if you're working with your family. (I've worked with my brother for over seven years, so I know firsthand.) It's important to have fun, to be able to kick back with your partner, and remember what brought you together in the first place.
What are you working on right now?
Rafael Romis: I'm going back to what I love and do best. With our new offering, Generate Culture, I will personally work one-on-one with 10 brands to help them with everything from A to Z: their strategy, website, and marketing.
As much as I love running Weberous, my core strength is strategy. So, I'm excited to be hands-on again like when I first started, and diving in to help each business crush it!
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