Celebrating 10 years in business, Jon Hale, Founder & CEO of FIGA Digital, talks to blogger Nataly Komova: February 18, 2023
What is the concept behind the brand name, FIGA?
FIGA is made up from the first letter of the name of my four children, and back in 2014, I asked our creative team to come up with our logo based upon this concept. In 2022, we all decided to add the peace symbol, as a support for peace, given the outbreak of war in Eastern Europe.
We’ve heard that figa is quite rude in Italian & also in Russian?
Yes, we are aware of that, but really see no relevance as our brand is not a word, it’s an acronym. We don’t trade in either of these territories, and it’s unlikely we will. Language will always evolve and change overtime. Many years ago, figa was a gentle word within the Italian language, but now it has a courser meaning. In 20 years-time it may have another depth to its meaning. Who knows, but it’s not a concern for us.
Tell us a bit more about your clients?
We have e-comm clients and service-based clients.
Our e-comm clients tend to be food or clothing e-retailers. Our service-based clients range from bespoke furniture manufacturers and fitters, exclusive Alpine Chalet rental agents, luxury property agents, Architectural & Surveyor services through to RICS Chartered Surveyors.
They operate in the SME market within the UK, France, and other parts of Europe.
What services do you offer?
We design and build websites, logo & branding, flipbook brochures, animated clips, and videos. We also provide analytical services through setting up and managing professional PPC accounts and expert SEO as well as data analysis.
We have perfected our own method of obtaining new leads and sales for our clients, through combining data analysis from PPC, analytics & an effective SEO strategy.
By combining our digital, accountancy and business skills, we analyse data and find ‘gold’ to create new leads and find clients.
Please see our service-based Company Brochure for more details and feel free to contact us for all your digital needs.
Are you a digital agency?
We are mainly a Digital Service provider and sometimes a Digital Agency, to allow us to bring relevant digital skills necessary for your exciting new project. We fit together the digital pieces of your business, creating your digital puzzle.
Launched in 2014 by a group of experienced digital service providers, together we provide digital services, across design, development, technical and analytical skills.
We started the business to provide honest, value-for-money, professional and on-scope digital and creative services for the SME UK market.
Tell me more about you Jon?
I was born in Sendai Japan and came to the UK at the age of 11. It was a massive change having spent most of my time in Japan, or France, with brief visits to the UK. I think this has allowed me to see the world in a different light, and to be more international in my outlook.
I started my digital career around 20 years ago within the festival business, where on-line ticketing exploded.
I was trained by the best in SEO, Google Ads, and decided to also self-train in Websites, mainly WordPress, as well as Adobe software. Training is now a daily occurrence, with so many pieces of software appearing with an unbelievable level of technical change & challenges to tackle.
I’ve been in business for over 30 years and was lucky enough to have been involved in four successful IPOs on the AIM Stock Exchange, within the leisure and hospitality sector, where I had a variety of full-time executive roles, namely CFO, CTO & COO.
What does Ten Years in business mean to you?
Well, the team and I are firstly proud of these achievements! It has been a challenging decade for quite a few marketing-based businesses and digital agencies.
We supported our clients through the pandemic, and that meant a personal investment was required from myself.
As we are built on strong client care & service values along with competitive pricing, it is pleasing to see that we are now back to our steady growth model.
Having said all of this, we are mainly focused on what the digital landscape will be for the next 5 years. This is both scary and exciting, and there is a tremendous amount of opportunity.
So how did you come about winning multiple awards?
The truth is we don’t know. We have no personal connection with the SME Awards and have not bought a table at an award ceremony. They both came out of the blue.
In 2022, we were pleasantly surprised to win Best PPC Services Company from the SME Awards, after just one year of us winning Most Innovative Web Design Company, in 2021.
We are humble in our achievements as although it’s always pleasing to be recognised for your hard and successful work, we are constantly looking forward with a view of how the future of digital is going to affect our clients, and to be one-step ahead of that.
Tell me more about the challenges you had over the pandemic?
Well, our journey, like so many other smaller businesses, has been challenging. This started with the impact of Brexit, moving into the Pandemic, and now with the high Inflation, all causing an extremely difficult economic climate for us to operate.
During the pandemic, we continued to provide support to our clients, even when there was no budget, understanding how tough these times were. For us client care is fundamental, and we continued to strive to develop our clients’ digital offering, during this time.
So, what do you see as your Opportunities?
We believe Google will be the prevalent search browser & engine for the next 5 years, and the major change will be in the visual connection interface, along with speed & utility.
We are planning for a major development within the B2B market in terms of a wholesale digital platform for business showcase. This could alter the landscape for a business website. This has already happened within B2C with the likes of amazon, eBay, gumtree, Alibaba & Facebook marketplace (etc).
Professional PPC and expert SEO services shall be just as important, but with blockchain technology, we may start to see a reduction in ‘bot’ traffic.
In 2022, we started to explore tokenization, having worked on an NFT project gassed on opensea.io. The tokenization of assets will be an interesting future marketplace for some businesses.
You have been in business for a while. What is your main business advice?
When I first started in business, a mobile phone was as bulky as carrying around a rucksack, and at the expense, very few had them, and 99.9% of people wrote and received letters. There was no internet being used in business, just by universities, although as students we didn’t get to see or use it.
Communication was sped up hugely by the fax machine, and phone answering machines. These two machines made people aware that speeding up communication seemed to be a positive, in both business and personal life.
Forward a few decades, and the speed of communication is incredible, now mainly instant, with the thanks to mobile phones and app technology.
The other major change I’ve seen, has been in career development and training. There has never been a time where a person may have multiple careers across different skill bases, that brings a requirement for continuous training, mainly in the form of self-training.
So, in terms of business advice – bringing Speed in Communication, Self-Training and Being Good at what you do together – these areas must be a focal point of your business.
You need to have tenacity … don’t accept the status quo and everyday try to view your business from different angles, testing new ideas to develop, improve & change.
Lastly, always be positive, and I don’t mean in a narcissistic way. Try to keep exploring / learning and don’t be afraid to ask for help where you think you need it.
If you feel negative, then take the day-off and do something completely different, like something physical that you enjoy doing, and start afresh the following day. In business sometimes it’s what you don’t do, rather than what you do.