Eduardo Sonoda is the CEO and Founder of Eduardo Sonoda Advisory, a leading marketing advisory firm. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Sonoda worked for some of the biggest marketing companies in the UK. Sonoda had developed a keen interest in marketing during his higher education. His experience of working with top marketing companies allowed him to polish his skills in marketing strategy.
Sonoda was born and raised in Hackney located in East London. He studied at the London Marketing Academy where he was able to specialize in marketing. After finishing his education, Sonoda joined a marketing firm in London. Over the next 6 years, Sonoda worked for a couple of other leading marketing firms in the region, gaining experience, skills, and contacts that allowed him to launch his own company in 1995 named Eduardo Sonoda Advisory.
Starting with a small operation of only 7 employees, Eduardo Sonoda Advisory has now grown to over 700 employees. The client base of Eduardo Sonoda Advisory includes a firm of all sizes including small startups to Inc. 5000 firms. A renowned expert in marketing strategy, Sonoda has been able to build an extensive business network that includes some of the leading business executives and industry experts.
In addition to leading his advisory firm, Sonoda also writes for several business publications. The articles written by Sonoda reflect his no-nonsense approach to marketing, which is what Sonoda is renowned for. Through his writing, Sonoda has been able to reach a wider audience that has helped him expand his business network.
As a philanthropist, Sonoda has partnered with several charitable organizations around the globe to help the needy. Some of his charitable work includes providing school supplies to children and offering disaster relief to several countries around the world.
How did you get started in this business?
I studied at London Marketing Academy, and have always been fascinated with marketing and advertising. After working for a few different companies, I decided I wanted to move forward with my own company, so I started up Eduardo Sonoda Advisory. Working for myself has been challenging in many ways, but it’s also very rewarding.
How do you make money?
I make money now, the same way I did when I first started in 1995 — by giving the best marketing strategy help and support to all my clients. A lot of companies have great ideas, but they might not be sure how to get everyone else to see the value in those ideas. You could have the best product in the world, but if your marketing isn’t right a lot of people won’t ever see that product.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
We were profitable nearly right away. Fortunately, I had a really great team helping me when I started up Eduardo Sonoda Advisory. There were seven employees then, and today the company has over 700. So it’s really grown since the beginning. I had planned to become profitable in the first year and was able to meet my goal with some careful planning.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I never really doubted that it would work. I knew from my experiences with other marketing companies, where I had worked in the past, that there were ways to make any company or product perform better. So I just took that knowledge and applied it to my own company.
How did you get your first customer?
My first customer came through connections I had already made in the business world. When they knew I was starting up Eduardo Sonoda Advisory, they wanted to work with me and my team on their marketing campaign. I was fortunate to have a lot of success at the marketing companies I’d worked for, so I had made a bit of a name for myself before opening my own business.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
I make sure to market what my team can offer, based on the past levels of success other companies have seen from us. I know we have a lot to offer, and I want to be sure I showcase the best of those offerings. Then, anyone who thinks about working with us will see how we can help them, too.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Whether to keep expanding or hold back because of the pandemic. Companies are being more careful with their budgets right now, but eventually, things will get easier again. We want to be sure we’re not bringing on more employees than we need, but we also want to be ready.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Dedication and experience. Knowledge and skills are very important, but they can only take you so far. I think Eduardo Sonoda Advisory succeeds because our employees are dedicated to what our clients want and need, and clients can feel that. It keeps them coming back.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Being able to give back, from the growth of Eduardo Sonoda Advisory. I’ve had the opportunity to provide supplies for school children and offer disaster relief in several countries all over the world. If it weren’t for the success of my business, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of that. It’s very meaningful when you know you’ve really made a positive difference in the life of someone else.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
New strategies for digital marketing, and the growth and development of those strategies, are really exciting areas of business for me. I know that growth means change, and that also means I can work with my team to find new ways to help clients. Everyone can work together, to improve marketing for companies that really want to get their products and services out to the world.
What business books have inspired you?
I recently read The Conversation by Robert Livingston. It’s focused on the kinds of conversations you can have at work, that will help address problems with racial justice, cultural concerns, and things like that. It’s a great way to get a better idea of how others think, and the ways we can help them be their best selves while honouring all of our differences, too.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Two things. First, you can’t give up. You might get things wrong, and have to regroup or make changes. But giving up on the overall dream or goal shouldn’t be an option. If it’s that important to you, you’ll find a way to make it happen. Second, you need the knowledge and skills to get started. It’s admirable to want to do something great, but make sure you have the background you need to do that. Then you’ll start off well, and have a lot higher chance of reaching your goals faster.