In the last few weeks, I happened to interview several entrepreneurs whose companies are featured on expometals.net to hear about how this year went, how they tackled the pandemic emergency, and what are their hopes and expectations for the upcoming year. The time has come to also hear the word of who has been leading expometals.net for the last 20 years, and was also lucky enough to be my husband, Davide Dell'Oro. As it is often the case with these wife-husband conversations, I’ll pretend I don’t know the answers already.
Towards the end of each year, Davide used to write an editorial to take stock of the situation and update customers and visitors on the latest progress. This time, we opted for a slightly different format to inform everybody about the work done and to be done.
DDM: What impact did Covid-19 have on the internal organization of expometals.net?
DDO: Within a week, towards the end of February and beginning of March, we geared up with all the tools needed to start working remotely, and we have continued to do so ever since. For a company working on the internet such as ours, it didn’t really change much. Sure, we are missing out on human relationships between colleagues, but smart working also has its benefits. No meltdowns - we've even hired new people this year! The coronavirus definitely had its impact on my decision process: we had planned to invest in a new, much larger office with 16 workstations, but I was dissuaded by the pandemic and decided to divert the necessary capital to something else.
DDM: To what? What were the investments made this year?
DDO: 2020 was the year we invested the most since expometals.net was created. Most of the resources went into the development of the new release of the portal: programming and SEO, first and foremost. We would have liked to be online sooner - and perhaps given the historical moment this would have been desirable - but projects of this size and scope take a lot of time. We are using new programming languages, so we find ourselves simultaneously studying them and applying them. I believe this approach will be the most rewarding, in the long run.
DDM: How about visits? How did the pandemic affect them?
DDO: The virus produced formidable and frankly unexpected results: visits to expometals have literally skyrocketed. We are talking about +47% year-on-year, which amounts to 340,000 annual visits. This is certainly due to people spending much more time in front of their computer, and business trips and trade fairs being limited. Expometals has proven to be a very useful online tool to search for suppliers and keep in the loop with the latest industry news.
DDM: As you mentioned, this year has been pretty rough on trade shows.
DDO: Unfortunately, and it's a shame, because they offer crucial networking opportunities.
DDM: The most important fair in this sector, wire & Tube in Düsseldorf, was initially postponed and later canceled.
DDO: Yes, we have been closely following developments in this matter, which is a very important issue for all our visitors. We tried to report the news in a timely manner and stay above parties, which I know was appreciated. Although we have established fruitful collaborations with the major players in this industry - including trade fairs, associations, and magazines - expometals is and will remain an independent entity, never subject to party interests, because we believe this is the only way we can offer a good service to our readers and advertisers.
DDM: Speaking of advertisers, many companies tend to cut back on advertising and communication spending during lean times. Do you agree?
DDO: It happens, sometimes. However, this pandemic crisis has been different, as it has put an emphasis on the importance of the web. Many people have realized that targeted investments, especially at a time like this, are crucial. Of course, not all media are doing well; the industry is in turmoil and some of our competitors are really sailing in bad waters.
DDM: What sets us apart?
DDO: Our specificity, we are not a generalist portal. Firstly, although social networks are becoming increasingly important in promoting your business online and can be very useful if correctly exploited, the results in terms of views and interactions are fairly different. We do not disperse attention, we talk ONLY to the professionals of the wire, fastener, and metalworking industries. And secondly, there is another aspect that makes us different: that is, customer service. With us, it’s not just a one-time banner; you don't buy an advertising package and then forget about it. With expometals, you have an ongoing service that lasts all year round, and a person following the company closely, tailoring the support as needed.
DDM: Has the flurry of digitization brought by coronavirus had any other effects?
DDO: We are now using video-calls as never before to show potential customers how the platform works and what are all the potential benefits. People are now more accustomed to these tools, which makes it easier to get in touch with them. Moreover, we have recently welcomed a new Sales Manager, Fabrizio Micheli, who is a great addition to our team. If you're interested in joining our network, you should get in touch with him.
DDM: Let's conclude with acknowledgments.
DDO: First of all, I would like to thank our customers, all the companies who are exhibiting their products on expometals.net. Some of them have been present for decades, believing in this project and supporting us since day one, even in spite of an unfavorable local business system. Of course, I would also like to thank all the staff: Fausto and Mariella, as well as Massimiliano, Stefano, Gianni, Federico, Fabrizio, Marco, Andrea, and whoever has been helping me for just a few weeks. And my wife, of course.
DDM: You almost forgot, didn’t you!
DDO: (laughs) Come on, how could I?
DDM: Shall we catch up with readers until next year?
DDO: Sure! I hope to have more updates on the new release soon. I'm aiming very high, but for good luck, I prefer not to spoiler anything at this stage.
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Daniela Di Maggio