2020. From amazing highs in the form of meeting some awesome new clients and continuing to work with existing great clients, to the lows of having to say goodbye to some. 2020 has clearly represented challenges for every business. End of. I would say every business faced some form of change, and in some cases the change was for the better. Which is how I see the changes we’ve experienced with our business, Virtual Marketers.
When I started Virtual Marketers almost three years ago, I could not have predicted the future, i.e. Covid, but I knew it was simply a matter of time for services offerings like ours in most areas of the workforce to grow. Let’s be honest, Accountants and Lawyers have been offering ‘virtual’ services on retainers for years. We were starting this in marketing joining the throngs of other global professionals doing the same. Our point of difference really was that we’re local, we’re a team of different specialists and work with our clients when needed, and we truly understand the New Zealand market and what it takes to succeed offshore.
Then Covid hit and it accelerated the requirement for remote working and letting go of the historical notion of ‘if I can see you working I know you’re working’ to ‘I’ve hired you for the job you do. As long as you're achieving this we’re good’.
Some considered Virtual Marketers as being blessed to exist when Covid hit. But, from what many can now see, this also forced increased competition, more marketers in the freelance workplace requiring work, and the emergence of more boutique, local services. Covid also delivered a scenario of companies simply ‘running out of money’ to invest in marketing, right when they needed to the most. We not only had to challenge the market for the sake of our clients, we were also facing some tough financial and strategic decisions as a company.
We’re a small business too. We are experienced marketers who have turned our passion into a business, which now provides over 20 marketing freelancers with work across NZ. Like any business, it costs money each month for the tools we need to do our jobs well, and the staff we hire to work with us. We’re really proud of understanding what it means to be a small business, and the fact that we have been able to provide lean resources to organisations facing 2020 (and 2021) digging deep to drive growth in their industry, and in some cases, simply to survive.
How did we get this far? We were fortunate enough to have had some great advice moving into 2020 on how we structured our organisation, pricing and service offerings and were in the process of implementing this when Covid hit. So we had a head start on Covid in a sense that we were making changes to how we operated. Then, overnight, we lost several significantly sized clients, which on more than one level was sad as our clients tend to become our friends and we’d been working together for a long time. Panic set in. For a day. The key is to lean into the panic in business, feel it and then regroup as a team and plan the next steps. I’m lucky I have a pragmatic business partner, Martina, who actively listens to me then repeats what I’m saying back to me … in many cases it reminds me to slow down, consider decisions before making them and remember I’m in a team and not on my own.
2021 will be hard, too - we’re planning for this. I honestly think this year has been warming us up for more change in 2021. I don’t mean bad change for everything, I’m excited about change. It gives us the chance to try new ways of operating and test more innovative marketing strategies. We’ll meet new clients wanting to make big changes and support our friends navigating businesses in all kinds of scenarios, across many different industries.
Bring on 2021 - we’re ready for you.