Jason Lawes of Red Sentence tells us about digital marketing that amplifies digital growth.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jason Lawes: Very well, thank you. It’s been a tough year for everyone, both personally and professionally, but with the vaccines being rolled out, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel, so both my family and my colleagues are looking forward to getting back to some sense of normality. I have 2 young children, so glad to see them back at school with their friends.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Red Sentence.
Jason Lawes: I founded the company back in 2012. I had worked previously for a company for around 10 years, where I headed up the design team, so I had built up quite a lot of knowledge and experience. I always had ambitions to one day either freelance or start my own business, and after 10 years as an employee, the time was right for me to venture out and start on my own. During those 10 years, I had built up a small network of freelance clients, which allowed me to hit the ground running when the time came.
How does Red Sentence innovate?
Jason Lawes: We try to offer a range of services under one roof. We have a team of specialists for each key area within website design and digital marketing – creative, strategic, and technical. Many agencies may specialize in one area whereas we offer all.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jason Lawes: Lots of projects got put on hold when lockdown first came into effect in March 2020 (due to client’s businesses having to close), and cash flow was tight for many months, with a significant drop in new inquiries coming in. We took advantage of the many support systems put in place by the government such as the furlough scheme and grant applications.
As time passed, we decided to diversify our existing offering to try and stay relevant and provide more to our existing clients from a digital point of view, as new clients were becoming hard to come by. We decided to become a HubSport Partner and employed a new Digital Brand Manager to head this side of the business.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jason Lawes: We realized that we didn’t need a large office anymore, so we made the decision to get a smaller office with the team working more remotely than previously. We also did a review of the many software subscriptions we had and consolidated what we had, ensuring we were still able to offer the best service to our clients.
Existing clients are what kept us going, so it’s more important than ever to keep in touch with them and see what we can do to help.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Jason Lawes: To aid remote working, our day-to-day tools include Slack, Google Meet (and the whole Workspace suite of programs), Harvest for time and project management, as well as WhatsApp for communications if out and about.
In terms of managing the team, it is important to trust everyone and not micro-manage them. Taking time to have a team catch up every morning was important for us to make sure we were all focused on what we needed doing and to keep our spirits up when in lockdown.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jason Lawes: We have lots of local competitors, although none of them have the same range of offerings we have. I talk regularly with other agency owners, and we often help each other out where possible, providing overflow support/filling in skill gaps.
Our plan is to keep relevant, diversify and make sure we are constantly visible to both new and old clients.
Your final thoughts?
Jason Lawes: I think it remains to be seen whether the shift from physical offices to remote working is the new norm. I think ideally a mix of the two. – having days where the team can get together, brainstorm, chat through projects, and just be social is essential. But also keeping that option to work from home when you need to.
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