I realised how much I had missed the office when last week we sat together laughing, listening to Tom Jones’ ‘What’s New Pussy Cat’ on YouTube. It’s usually Becky that comes up with the creative ideas for our white out Instagram squares. The meeting also made me realise how much the world had changed in just a few years. Instead of telling her yes, that’s a great idea, we started to question everything about it. Is it insensitive during this time? Is it appropriate? Will it offend people? Could we be sued? Will young people get it? What about the controversial nature of the lyrics? We googled, found a live performance of the song from the 60s and played it. Instead of being worried about the content, we laughed. Laughing at the lyrics and the ridiculousness of the worries in the room. We posted it. Please don’t sue us.
It is difficult to know where to start when it comes to putting pen to paper and writing an update on how we are doing during Covid19. There is a strong sense that we are all in this together, yet I acknowledge that some are afraid to admit the truth at the risk of appearing negative or losing face. It’s tough. On everyone. I don’t believe anyone is coming through 2020 without the occasional wobble. It feels impossible to plan anything at the moment, which we all know is not good for the business community.
As a team who regularly works from home, we adapted with ease to the summer lockdown. Admittedly, juggling home learning with serving our clients was a little challenging at times, but we managed to make it work and were able to continue during the tricky period. We all managed to squeeze in a holiday, though not quite to the exotic places we had planned. We are thankful for the work that continued and the new enquires and projects that came in.
Lockdown gave us all a new sense of perspective. It strengthened family and community relationships and for some, it helped repurpose our lives and our careers. At the end of the summer, we were sad to see our Marketing Consultant Penny Thompson leave the team. I bumped into her yesterday on Reigate high street and, even though she had a mask on, I knew there was a big smile on her face. She has moved on the from the world of Marketing to pursue a completely new career in education support. Seeing her in person was so much nicer than our team meeting on Zoom, when we all wished her well.
Whilst working from home and on Zoom is possible for a period, it is not ideal for us. The office was always a busy hub of activity. A place for sharing ideas and exploring different ways of approaching our clients’ Marketing strategies and campaign activities. This was the essence of our ‘Your Marketing Team’ concept. It is difficult to be a team and work in the way we are designed to work, without face to face contact. Learning and on-the-job training is also very challenging. Whilst the internet offers us so many online training programmes and forums to ask questions, there is nothing quite like sitting alongside someone in person, looking at their screen, scratching out ideas on pieces of paper and working through things together over a cup of coffee.
We signed a lease for a new larger office at the beginning of 2020. It was a large room next door to our original office, which was fairly cramped with 5 desks. It took us a while to move in and when Covid19 hit in mid-March, we were still in the process of completing it. We had just painted the end wall bright pink! With the months of lockdown looming, I started to question the decision to expand. It seemed crazy during this period to rent office space, whilst everyone adapted to home working. After a few months, the limitations of not being together in person became clearer and we were keen to return as soon as we were permitted to do so. The new office space emerged as a blessing, as our Operations Manager, Becca put together our Covid19 risk assessment and policy documents. Tape measure in hand, we could easily fit six of us in the new office and stay safely socially distanced. In the old office, we would be lucky if we could fit two or three.
We enthusiastically came back to the office at the beginning of September and marked the return with our first direct mail campaign since the start of the year. We teamed up with local Reigate business, The Fresh Coffee Company and sent all our clients and prospects a bag of their ground blend to give everyone a welcome boost as they returned to work. Little did we know that less than 3 weeks later, the advice from the Government would change and people would once again be encouraged to work at home if possible. As I mentioned earlier, the environment has become impossible to predict. Sometimes being a business owner feels like a double-edged sword. Whilst we deeply care for all those affected by the health impact of Covid19, especially those who have lost loved ones or are still under-going lengthy recovery treatments, we also believe that we need to protect our economy. Our lives and our children’s future lives are dependent on how we act now. Maintaining and nurturing a healthy economy is vital. It is a tricky balancing act. I found it encouraging that on the day the Chancellor announced further lifelines for the business community to see us through the next few months, the sky in Reigate that evening was filled with vivid rainbows. Signs of hope on display for our town.
The nature of our work is changing and has adapted throughout the year. Now, more than ever clients are looking at consumer behaviour and how this is changing in the midst of the new normal. The rapid move to digital is forcing business owners to scrutinise their web presence. Merely having a brochure style website is no longer enough. A website needs to perform in all areas, to ensure clicks move through the funnel and are turned into sales. Then in turn, from sales to loyal customers. Communications are needed at all levels to maintain existing levels of business and to attract new prospects, particularly in markets where consumers are spending less or now purchasing infrequently. This requires investment, which is a difficult commitment during times of uncertainty.
We have also seen clients go through the process of repurposing their offering. New channels, new markets and in some cases new products. This takes strategic thinking and support in finding new ways of raising income. Whilst it is so tempting to batten down the hatches and protect what capital is left (like squirrels storing nuts for the winter), the survivors of this Covid19 storm are more likely to be those who keep going and continue to invest in marketing their goods and services.
Essentially, at Your Marketing Team we are in the same boat. Revaluating our offering, looking towards the future, and adapting to the way the world is changing. The core value of our business though remains the same. We are here to serve. Seven years ago, I set up Your Marketing Team to help entrepreneurs and business owners achieve their plans for growth. Whether you need a full strategic marketing plan, a refreshed brand identity, an easy to navigate website or simply an extra pair of (fully sanitised) hands to stuff envelopes, we are here to help.
If you’d like to find out about how our marketing services can help to grow your business, feel free to get in touch.