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About This Episode
Just like the financial crisis in 2008, the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has been challenging, to say the least.
Not every moment has been bad, though. Some changes we implemented have launched us into more success than we imagined — and we aren’t going back to the way we used to do things.
“We consider ourselves one of the fastest growing digital marketing agencies in the UK, as well as having early stage operations in both the US and Australia,” Martin said.
His company does not look the same as it did prior to March 2020. Let’s dive into what’s changed for the good.
From Q1 to zero overnight
“The phones basically stopped ringing,” Martin said. Like so many other businesses endured, WebCreation had a couple of weeks with no business whatsoever.
Then came the hard decisions of pay cuts and furloughs. Martin said that employees were understanding and handled the changes beautifully.
One of the first positive outcomes of the pandemic was that it basically forced the business to step back and take a look at how they did things. “It was a great opportunity to reflect, particularly operationally,” Martin said.
- Can we do things better?
- Can we deliver faster?
- Can we deliver better quality?
- Can we get more things right the first time?
Beyond improving what they already had, the business decided to develop new initiatives, like building a brand new customer success team from scratch.
“We looked at where we had fat within the business and potentially cut those areas or redeployed people to make the business leaner and faster,” Martin said.
Marketing & sales changes
Marketing. Initially, they slashed their marketing budget. Then they realized that wasn’t a good call.
“Business hasn’t just gone away. Actually, it’s still there for those that are brave enough to go and get it,” Martin said.
So instead, they upped the budget instead and went aggressively after the market of SMBs who desperately needed help with digital marketing.
Sales. With marketing such a success, there were more leads than salespeople. Competitors who were furloughing salespeople meant that perfectly trained sales experts were flooding the market.
“We went on LinkedIn, told a great story, and looked to recruit people from businesses where they can come in and hit the ground running with us. They knew how to explain the complexities of digital marketing to a small business owner in a way that they can relate to,” Martin said.
New salespeople could use their skills where they could be part of an exciting growth story. The business didn’t spend on recruitment, and training was a breeze.
“We’ve had record month after record month after record month for the last five months,” Martin said.
2 New customer profiles
As a digital marketing agency, WebCreation was ready to deliver what thousands of SMBs needed — online presence.
1. Previous resisters
Companies that may have resisted the shift to online previously responded to the push to go digital. (In some cases, it was do or die.)
“They started to get in touch with us and say, ‘We know we’ve got to do it, but we don’t know where to start. Can you help us?’” Martin said.
Why, yes, with great pleasure.
2. Business visibility
Customers who historically have had websites but only used them as a business card realized they needed more out of the site.
They realized that the website was their new storefront and needed help reaching the top of the search list — becoming more visible. Building not just a site but digital presence.
“What we’re finding is those customers that we’ve built websites for maybe two years ago, coming back to us and saying, ‘How can I get in front of my competition? Show me how,” he said.
With a customer business size squarely in the SMB realm, those hardest hit by the lockdowns, the work wasn’t idle or meaningless. Website creation and analytics very likely saved people’s livelihoods.
Despite the huge uptick in ecommerce and having more business than ever, WebCreation took time for reflection.
“What is it we stand for? What are our competitive differentiators?” Martin said. “What is the story that we want to tell?”
They didn’t want to give their customers the feeling of dealing with a big agency. Instead, they stripped down their mission to what they deliver.
In other words, they simplified.
“It’s a high standard product, a premium product, but at an affordable cost. And that’s what a small business owner wants,” he said. “It’s about delivering what customers are after.”
Hearing Martin reflect on the marketplace demands and especially the shift away from the office to a brand new global sales team, I found it almost incredible that all this change occurred within about half a year.
“We had to make those changes at the start, and if you don’t embrace the change, then that’s where that’s where you have a struggle,” Martin said.
Let’s embrace the change and look to the positive.
Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.