Adapting and Innovating

Posted on the 29 April 2020

Adapting and Innovating

Sean Costigan heads up the sales and marketing side of Stockton-based print and marketing agency, AlphaGraphics.

Sean has been in the business 25 years and has watched it grow from a small print shop into a £8m thriving business working across several market sectors.

AlphaGraphics’ focus is now on providing multi-channel marketing campaigns and helping clients effectively maximise the use of their data.

When the lockdown was announced, we realised there would be an increase in two lines of business – direct mail and social distancing collateral.

Our marketing team worked on outbound communications in these areas and saw immediate success. Our creative team then designed a range of materials for social distancing.

We launched a website to sell our products online (www.socialdistancingsolutions.co.uk), where we also offer a bespoke design service.

1. CASH FIRST

Before you introduce any change within your business, pull together as detailed a cash-flow as possible and plan for the worst. It can only get better!

2. EXPLORE OPTIONS TO FUTUREPROOF YOUR BUSINESS AND ASK FOR FLEXIBILITY

Protect your business by taking up every offer of help possible, and do not be ashamed to do so. The government’s Job Retention Scheme is just one of several options to shield your business from future downturn.

3. LOOK FOR UNTAPPED OPPORTUNITIES

Think about the products and services that are under demand during lockdown and apply this to your existing capacity within your business. Are there unique services or products you can offer?

Keep up to date with trends – identify opportunities and see how you can align your business, like we did with social distancing collateral. Social media is a great place to start – particularly LinkedIn.

4. ENGAGE YOUR CUSTOMERS

When thinking about your new product or service, spend time on communicating with your existing and potential customers. Understand how their needs have changed and how your new product or service can support them.

5. START SHARING

When you've developed your new product or service, spend time on sharing it widely. For us, this meant developing a website and updating it with our new products as soon as possible. Conduct an SEO audit and refine your content to improve rankings in new areas. Explore ecommerce platforms to sell your products and services in different ways than before the pandemic.

5. REVIEW YOUR MARKETING BUDGET

Review your marketing budget and increase outbound and paid activity online. We identified that many of our target clients will be working from home as a result of the lockdown, so we ramped up our paid activity on Google and on social media. These channels have proven to be very lucrative for us and our Social Distancing Solutions website, as well as enabling us to identify new clients and retarget existing ones.

6. UPSKILL YOUR TEAM

There are hundreds of online resources for all areas of your business to learn new skills. Personal development is a great way of keeping people motivated when times are tough.

7. COMMUNICATE THE CHANGE

Communicate business changes to your teams and check in regularly to instil confidence and boost morale. We have been using a range of online conference call software to keep us all connected, and we call each other daily.

Visit our online Support Hub for advice, guidance and resources on running a business during this challenging time. Alternatively, if you'd like support from a Forum mentor, please contact us on info@entrepreneursforum.net or 0191 500 7780.