With everything going on in the world, why would anyone in their right mind want to start a business, let alone a B2B business with so much uncertainty?
With everything going on around COVID this year, is it the best time to start a business? Is it ever the right time to start a business? Especially one that derives its income from other businesses.
COVID has been a real kick in the face for HESK Digital. After 6 months of planning and developing strategies and business plans, we finally hired our first staff member in December 2019. By March 2020 all the plans were out the window. So what do you do? Well for me, I panicked and made some silly directional decisions. I thought I could guess what the market was going to do, so I would preempt it.
What I thought would happen to the Digital Marketing space.
Having worked in the digital marketing space for over 15 years, and is what I call a serial entrepreneur, I thought I had seen it all. I knew how businesses would react. The same way they always do.
- Consumers would reduce spending, and save more money
- Businesses would feel the decrease in revenue, and would want to decrease costs
- They are loyal to their staff, so they try and reduce costs that are flexible, like marketing.
- Marketing dollars go down, revenue goes down further.
- This puts more pressure on costs, so they fire some employees (usually middle management) as they can fire a few of them and save a lot of money.
- Then it turns into a pressure cooker of blame and missed KPI’s.
This play book has happened in most medium sized companies at every recession. They somehow think that cutting marketing is a smart thing to do because it saves them money. But we have come a long way since the last recession. I was proven wrong.
What stopped history from repeating itself?
The simple answer here is Government intervention, and people learning from previous mistakes. The Australian Governments Job Keeper payments, and Job Seeker Payments are keeping the Australian economy balanced on a very thin wire.
Job Seeker and Keeper.
Job Seeker kept people that were already without a job earning enough money, that they didn’t need to take the first step of saving every last dollar. Usually the unemployed are hit the hardest as they find it hard to find new jobs, and the amount the government gives them is not enough to live on. So the extra payments helped give them enough to live off, and if they were really clever, they could save some of it as well.
Job Keeper saved the businesses. It allowed businesses to breathe a little easier and not have to find a place to cut costs. By giving businesses around $3,000 a month per employee it saves the business from having to cut that same amount from the marketing fund on wages. All those cuts would have started the spiral I discussed above.
Finally what stopped history repeating itself is, people have learned their lesson. People have looked at history as a teacher and listened. They have learned that getting people to buy your product is more important than having a Personal Assistant. Instead, now businesses fire people based on their effect on the bottom line. senior managers with a small team are usually the first to go. Followed by cost base teams, like accounting or Call Centre. These teams don’t bring in money, but they cost money, so they are the first to go. The last teams that get the axe are usually the top sales team members and marketing.
If your business can get leads, and close them, you can stay in business. If you can’t do that, you may as well hang up the boots and leave the game.
What does this mean for Digital Marketing Agencies?
It means, that even though we are going through one of the worst economic events in my lifetime. I can have hope. Businesses are still spending on advertising to generate new leads and clients, and the Government is spending to make sure they can keep trying to grow and maintain their living standards.
Some marketing agencies stopped pushing for new business when COVID-19 started, and we were one of them. But what I have learnt is that the mistakes of the past are not always repeated. With the reduced number of agencies pushing for business, it means there is more room for the gritty little guy, to land a big fish.
How to Enter the market?
Focus on the niche you want to specialise in. Starting like we did, as an agency for all is really hard, and requires some serious coin to get started. Think about the type of marketing you want to specialise in and the types of businesses you want to target.
There is an agency I know, who only works with tradies, they bring them on as clients and knock their socks off as they are so experienced in the pain a tradie has with finding clients. There are other agencies that say we will take any small client that wants a Google Ads campaign. They are planning for volume, lots of clients, low fees, and low customer service.
What is it that you want to do, and who are your target customers? Once you figure that out, create a marketing campaign using the tools that you are trying to sell. So a Google Ads Campaign if you want to focus on Google Ads, or SEO your site, if that is going to be your main product. Don’t just get it done, do it to a Gold standard, the best campaign you have ever put together. Your site, is your first case study, do it right.
Just Do It
These words have been used a million times, referring to a brand, or peer pressure or your own internal voice. They are powerful for a reason, they are simple, they inspire action, and millions of people have achieved success by doing, not thinking.
Feel free to contact me personally if you want some advice or to see if we can help you reach the next level.
About The Author
Emil Khoury is a serial entrepreneur who has spent the last 15 years focusing on the digital marketing space. Emil is a co-founder of HESK Digital and the chief strategist. He spends his time finding the best solutions with the team to improve his client’s positions in the fastest possible way.