How to navigate the running of a marketing agency through #Coronavirus
There were a few people that were concerned because the information provided by the employee was sketchy at best, but understandly so, as there was this enigma around who would and wouldn't get #Coronavirus at that point in time.
The team at Marketing Eye proceeded ahead without incidence. Another employee had a cold and took three days off just in case, but with a father who is a Doctor, we presumed that he had been tested and was able to return to work.
As an employer, we are not told what we can and cannot say to our employees. When employees are sick normally, we are unable to ask what was wrong. Instead we get handed a Doctors certificate that may have been downloaded online with "unwell" on it.
Coronavirus is serious. So much so in fact that many countries have shut down. The effect on marketing agencies around the globe is quite serious.
What we do know about marketing in situations like this is:
- Marketing departments are one of the first areas to go
- There will be a lot more unemployed marketers seeking jobs
- Freelancers will be hugely impacted with many unable to get jobs
- Large agencies will not be getting their projected commissions from advertising and production
- Tradeshows and events will move online requiring less resources and marketing efforts
For agencies like Marketing Eye, we will see:
- Health related clients increase their spend. They need to stand out from the crowd and still have money to spend.
- Companies that have "saved for a rainy day" will have websites rebuilt, marketing strategies written, and up their marketing efforts.
- Outsourcing marketing to an agency that has all services in-house with one fixed fee will thrive. Our business went up in the GFC and we have no doubt that this will happen again with what is happening in the world.
- Agencies will need to do more for clients. It's in our best interests that all of our clients businesses survive. Our jobs as marketers is to do everything in our power to make sure that this happens. That means giving more, being generous with our time and focusing on ROI.
Potential future cost savings:
- Do we need to lease offices in every location? Is this necessary? Are there more fun ways in which to connect employees like weekly and monthly meetups?
- Due to the "work from home" need, agencies will find out who is high performing in their team, and who just gets by. Now is the time for team members to step up and make sure that the companies they work for remain alive. What efforts they put in now will have a big role in the future of the agencies they work for.
- Paper-less work environments. I have noticed in the past 2 years that printing in the office has been more popular but as people adapt, they print less.
- Focus on cutting down costs to ensure that your company survives means that most probably, we won't need to be spending as much in the future.
Improvements in the way we work:
- Making sure the technology stack is flexible for employees that work from home.
- Changing in-person meetings to online meetings.
- Using analytics to drive marketing activations which for us is achieved through the use of Robotic Marketer.
- More one-to-one conversations with employees.
- Forced use of project management software. We use ASANA and employees know that more so than ever before they need to "live" while at work on this platform.
- Measures in place to ensure that productivity is not effected.
- Continual communication to employees on the company's position on everything from "work from home" arrangements to sustainability of the business long-term.
It's important to navigate the next few months as a team dedicated to achieving the goals of our clients. Our employees are at this point of time completely fine with no-one diagnosed with Coronavirus as yet. We have educated them on what to do to minimize risk.
As an entrepreneur this is unfamiliar territory:
- There is no manual on how to handle employee hysteria around Coronavirus. It's important to stay calm, keep with the facts and pay special attention to the way issues are communicated.
- Be mindful that some employees may live paycheck to paycheck. That means that they are afraid that they may not be able to pay the rent if something happens to their jobs. Show respect to their situations and be caring in the way you approach what you do.
- Encourage employees to not waste their days online seeking news on Coronavirus and not working on client work. The show must go on and clients pay ultimately for employee jobs.
- "Work from home" and being a remote employee does not mean that you are on holidays - and educating people that are not use to working from home on this is important. It is a rude shock when people get caught up in the new way of working and find themselves in an unproductive place. At home, there can be many distractions, but if you are being paid to work, it is important that you do so. Set guidelines around working remotely and ensure that you explain to employees the importance of them doing their jobs and helping their clients through this period of time.
- There will be companies that slow down paying their bills because they are afraid of running out of cash, and rightfully so. Make sure the line of communication with your clients is there.
I'm very concerned about the economy and what the hysteria around Coronavirus will do to business.
Currently, I am in Atlanta for business and it is evident that everything has shut down. That means people are not going to work, no-one is buying other than necessities and the entire economy is being effected in a way that no-one prepared for in January 1.
Stay focused. Make sure your business plan and marketing strategy is adjusted to cater for this change in environment and put your best, most creative foot forward.