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News & Views from Alchemis

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Call us for a chat on +44 (0)20 7836 3678 or Email Jim Piper or David Newman

What are the fundamental threats to new business in light of the Covid-19 outbreak

As we hit the 6 month mark since lockdown was first introduced in the UK and with a second wave of the virus looking inevitable, what are the threats to new business and how can agencies mitigate these?

Back in March and April the pandemic caused an unprecedented shock to the economy. It would be fair to say that most businesses were caught unawares by the speed and scale of the pandemic and even those that weren’t were often hampered by logistical problems outside their control.

While a few sectors still did OK or even saw sales increase (one obvious example being supermarkets), the knock on effect with supply chains being severely disrupted still dented potential profit margins for many companies that couldn’t meet consumer demand.

But despite the recent increase in Covid cases again, many businesses have learned to adapt pretty quickly and this should enable them to carry on trading as efficiently as possible in the circumstances. Our own recent industry-wide survey has shown a huge shift in how organisations have “leapt years forward” with their digital strategies in the space of a few months for example, as they strive to gain new customers and retain existing ones as traditional offline channels were restricted.

However, it does seem that we are in for a tough couple of years before we fully bounce back. Some sectors have been hit particularly hard – the travel and leisure markets are a couple that instantly spring to mind – and without a working vaccine available to the general population it is hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel for these particular industries at the moment.

Then the knock on effect from this – and particularly as furlough ends – is the inevitable increase in redundancies and unemployment rising.

This is likely to be a very significant threat to new business as purse strings are tightened by consumers and some companies looking to cut costs.

However, that does not mean that “there’s no new business to be won”. Throughout this crisis we have already seen examples of brands diversifying to use the situation to their advantage. Brewdog turning their production to sanitiser as well as beer is one that sticks in my mind. And regardless of whether we get a vaccine or not, it looks like a lot of people will carry on working at home for at least some of the time in the future. There will be a huge boost for various tech and comms firms as more products evolve to make this process seamless.

Innovation is pretty much guaranteed across multiple industry sectors as companies look for solutions to accommodate “the new normal”, fill gaps in the market or create demand in new markets.

Our own experience has seen increased new business opportunities recently as agencies and brands adapt to the situation. Digital transformation, Video Production/Content, UX and SEO agencies in particular seem to be attracting more interest in the last few months.

But whatever marketing discipline you are in, the biggest threat to new business is to do nothing.

Marketing decision makers will be looking at ways of working cost effectively and an agile agency that can offer a smarter way of working will have a lot to offer.

A tenacious approach to make an initial introduction of your agency to these decision makers should be followed up with a structured contact management plan. Whatever channels you are using for your new business drive, it’s important to keep up momentum.

Ultimately, we are firm believers at Achemis that “people buy from people”. Even if you are not meeting a prospective buyer in person at the moment, speaking to them on the phone or a Zoom call will enable you to quickly engage and build trust. If you can ensure you are kept in the front of their mind for any briefs, pitches or just issues you can offer advice on from your experience in the market, your chances of winning work will increase like the Covid R-rate!

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