We talked to Gareth Waters of Alliance Marketing Agency about social media marketing and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Gareth Waters: Covid19 had a big impact on my normal family life, and there continues to be disruption. My wife and I have 5 children between us, so the UK lockdown had a big impact on our day-to-day lives. Schools were shut from March and didn’t reopen until September, so as you can imagine, keeping the children entertained was a regular battle! Luckily, we had a good spell of hot weather, so that certainly helped us through the lockdown. In terms of work, both my wife and I run our own businesses, so we had to adapt to work from home quickly. Working from the dining room table is never a realistic option compared to the office, though!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Alliance.
Gareth Waters: My current company, Alliance, was formed in 2017, but before that, I had been a freelance graphic designer for over 10 years. My business partner Matt and I formed Alliance because we found that after working together for numerous years on a variety of different projects (Matt was a freelance PR specialist), we had one of those lightbulb moments and thought, hang on a minute, if we combine my design, branding and web skills with Matt’s experience in PR, marketing and social media we could form a strong ‘Alliance.’
How does Alliance innovate?
Gareth Waters: Being in the creative industry, it’s important that we stay on top of current trends in all aspects of marketing, advertising, and digital. We do this by constantly improving our own skillset to ensure that we can offer our clients the best solutions for their problems. 2020 has seen a massive demand for social media marketing, so we have been making the most of webinars, talks, and workshops that help us improve our knowledge of social media accounts and how to use them for advertising and marketing effectively.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Gareth Waters: Coronavirus has affected our business in a number of different ways. Firstly, we had to close our office for 4 months due to the UK lockdown. This meant that we had to quickly adapt to working from home, which was difficult because as a team, we have always worked collectively to formulate ideas and to discuss everything together. Doing this over Zoom and Teams meant that we had to find new ways to be creative together.
Due to the effects the Coronavirus had on hospitality and leisure industries; we lost some of our retained marketing clients who were using our services, although some of these came back to us in the summer when lockdown laws were relaxed.
In general, though, business is currently good for us. We have adapted our services to manage the increased demand for social media marketing and increase e-commerce websites for high-street businesses that want to continue selling their products or services online.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Gareth Waters: Luckily, we didn’t have to make any difficult choices that had an effect on our business. We did have to put staff on the Government furlough scheme for a number of weeks, but that helped us better manage the finances of the business and put us in a better position once lockdown ended and we could bring staff back into work.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Gareth Waters: I deal with stress and anxiety by switching off the computer and spending time with the family. The past few months have given us a lot of good quality family time, so in some respects, that has been a positive take from the pandemic.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Gareth Waters: There are a small number of similar businesses to us, but I wouldn’t necessarily consider them to be competitors. As business owners, we’ve all had to adapt, collaborate, and form a strong community of creatives to ensure that we all see the tough times that the pandemic has brought us. As a team, we have improved our skillsets that have made us more focused, flexible, and commercially aware, which will hopefully be in a strong position once we get back to some normality in 2021.
Your final thoughts?
Gareth Waters: My final thought is for business owners to see Coronavirus as an opportunity wherever possible. If you can adapt your product or service to meet your customers’ demands, this will put you in a better position than your competitors. There has never been a better time to be promoting your business on social media, so I would suggest spending the time to improve your brand awareness and always be present in your customers’ minds.