Spotlight on Sam Evans
This blog is from Sam Evans, MD of Gather Social. Sam shares his journey guiding a business through unprecedented times. Sam shares his top tips for remotely working and what he thinks the future looks like for business.
A background into you and your business?
As a young child, I was obsessed with making money and money in general. I used to love collecting banknotes. From as young as I can remember I would do anything to earn money. Wash cars, sell ice pops, iced buns, tapes, disco tickets, anything. My mum gave me a pound a day lunch money, which I turned into 40 quid most weeks. My Godmother and mentor recently told me she always knew this would be my calling. Probably that and the fact I got fired on more than one occasion.
Gather social is a social media first marketing agency. One of the initial founders of the business was a software developer, and by good fortune, we ended up going down that route. We offer a wide range of content production and paid adverts whilst being able to run the business through our own software, which has been developed for over 5 years. We pride ourselves on being disruptive with everything, but most importantly with the price. We aim to provide our clients with excellent customer service, and digital success at a fair price.
What do you think will happen to the business over the next few months?
The last month and the next few months are going to be the challenge of a lifetime. I'm scared to the core but brimming with excitement in equal measures. The next few months are going to be all about keeping our services levels at their highest standards whilst our clients get themselves back on their feet. No request will be too big or too small for the next few months and possibly beyond. Our clients will remember our generosity, warmth and goodwill, which will strengthen our reputation as a business.
Over the next few months, the business will be operating at the leanest possible cost, without impacting service provision. We are continuing to market ourselves, and investing in paid-for media. The prices have returned to what they were 5 years ago, and its imperative that we capitalise on this underpriced attention right now. We have been blessed to have already generated a few inquiries from people who are looking positively at the future. If we can keep this activity up we could recover our position more quickly, and hopefully, once again thrive.
I think the business will also make something of all the staff. It has a soul and a character of its own. I think it will make us all better people in the end. Personally, when this is over and we have survived, I will consider myself a man, for the first time in my life. The test that this situation has given me, is one that I couldn't prepare for. This sentiment goes to all the staff who are operating in a manner befitting well above their ages.
What has been your strategy for your business during corona?
Be as kind and as generous as possible with everyone I know. This is clients, friends, and family alike.
Are you worried about corona and how it will affect Gather Social?
I would be a fool and a liar if I said I wasn't worried about Covid-19. My virtual mentor for want of a better description is Gary Vaynerchuck, at the start of this I found myself asking what Gary Vee would say to me. He would tell me to back myself because nobody is going to do it for me. Whilst, I am worried about the effect on Gather Social, I have found that thinking positively about the situation and the team I have in place, is easier than dwelling on the negative.
What top tips do you have for businesses struggling with remote working?
Be flexible, be patient and be willing to adapt. As a business, we often had "work from home" days but we weren't prepared for the duration that we are currently facing.
I think that Covid-19 is going to have a dramatic impact on how we all work in the future. Will people who have been furloughed realise that they spend 20% of their salary on getting to and from work, and demand more opportunity to work from home? Could working from home be an effective strategy for hitting our carbon targets? I think a national debate of some description around working from home should be had in a post-Covid-19 lockdown. Focusing on your work from home routine now and not beating yourself up for making mistakes, is an essential learning curve for everyone right now.
How has your business adapted to deal with such uncertain times?
Like every business, we have had to make a significant number of changes. Whatsapp Group Calling has become the lifeblood of the business along with Zoom.
The biggest change we have made is in our approach to generating new business. We have adapted the process to give the potential client more value upfront. In uncertain times, people need greater reassurance around investing in marketing. We are now leading with a consultation and days content production as part of the sales process. This is enabling potential clients to get a better understanding of our service and to ultimately decide if it's the right fit for them.
We installed a production studio in early 2020. We are currently rejigging the set design, and room layout, to make this fully compliant with social distancing. We will be in a position to make videos for customers or staff where they don't even need to come into contact with another individual.
Over the coming months, as we understand more about life post lockdown, our business will continue to adapt its service offering.
Where do you suggest I spend my money during this time? Should I be putting my business’ ads on hold during this time?
Right now really is the opportunity of a lifetime. Facebook Organic reach is generating website traffic, and the price of advertising across the entire Facebook product family has crashed to levels not seen for 5 years. The price of adverts right now is crazy cheap. A centralised and coordinated social media strategy is essential for any business looking to bounce back quickly.
The advertising space is going to be undervalued for at least the next 18 months. Anyone looking to gain market share via social media has 18 months to capitalise, on the opportunity. As a business, we are investing in Facebook adverts, as this really is a once in a lifetime chance to educate your audience for a very little budget. We ran a recent test to compare prices. A set of identical adverts we had used previously cost 72% less to generate the same outcomes.
Gather social relies on clients paying the bills. How are your clients coping during these times?
It's a complete mixed bag of reactions. Luckily we are a very B2B centric business. Those clients have adapted well, and are thinking positively about their marketing. We have active campaigns in place for all clients and are preparing content ideas for the easing of lockdown.
We have had to support some clients mentally, especially our smaller clients. Often we are their only supplier, and it's been essential that we listen to their troubles and make sure their marketing is the least of their issues. One of the businesses first ever clients had quit and decided she was going to work in the local supermarket. I had some choice words for her, and she returned to working on her business within days. She flipped her offering on its head, took it online, and started to generate revenue within days.
If you want to contact Sam or any of the team at Gather Social, regarding your business you can check out the website here. They offer free virtual workshops and so if you are struggling, don't hesitate to get in touch.