Between the consequences of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, one thing we have all had to make time for is introspection, businesses included. I have had to look back on and evaluate our interactions, strategies and business decisions to decide if they still have a place in a future where anything could happen. Any perceptive company would have seen many places to learn and improve through these tough times. While we have learned so much about ourselves in the last few months as a young company, I found that richer learning could be found in observing how our clients impressively tackled the challenges in their paths. Here are the business lessons I learned from them and their journeys of success over the past 2 years.
1. Culture First
When the economy is affected, as it has been during the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be tempting to become consumed by the numbers. While this does need to be managed carefully, it is also important not to only be “culture-first” when the going is good. Perkbox is a culture-centric company who have been recognised as one the fastest-growing startups in the UK. When I visited their London office in 2018, I was inspired by their office space, happy faces and the fluffy friends staff were allowed to bring to work.
What impressed me most is how this did not change under pressure. If anything, Perkbox fast realised the value of their voice in the culture conversation during lockdowns and work-from-home arrangements. They shared copious resources, blogs and webinars with other companies about how to best survive the tough times without compromising on culture. I’m happy to say that we followed their advice and it made a big difference! Perkbox isn’t just selling a product centred around culture; they eat, sleep and breathe it, because they know that if company culture falls apart, so does everything else.
2. Be Agile
When you have seen a company pivot from being a drone services company to an innovative, cutting-edge software and digital solutions provider, you can’t help but be impressed. When the pandemic hit, The Virtulab rolled out their flagship product, Virtuworx, a platform they have been using internally for remote training, now rebuilt for virtual events and remote work. Following this the company, led by former RAF pilot David Cummins, fully rebranded the company’s core set of products and services. Agility is an important lesson every company should strive towards, so that like The Virtulab, instead of panicking, you can channel all that adrenaline into problem-solving and survive and thrive through anything.
3. Treat Your Service Providers Right
Niantic is the biggest AR games company in the world, well-recognised for the creation of Pokemon Go, among other prestigious IP. The first project we worked on with them is still to be released, but they didn’t hesitate to ship gifts in thanks to our team from the US all the way to South Africa, not an easy feat if you’re familiar with the SA postal system. Not only this, but at every turn they have always sandwiched their feedback and coupled it with respect. We are one of their smaller, and not their only, service providers, but they have treated us all equally, despite the scale of any of the companies who work with them.
More recently, we have worked with them to build a website for a very well known IP they have been licensed to work with. Despite working with a whole new team of project managers, we were given the same positive treatment as every other time we worked with them. Engaging such a positive footing throughout inspires us to do the same with our own service providers.
4. Listen To Your Community
When we originally started working with this client in 2019, we began with creating social media content and moved on to paid user acquisition in 2020. When Codemasters launched DIRT5, we were working with them on their paid and social media campaigns. Instead of requesting the usual monthly performance report, everyone from their community manager and marketing lead to the product manager and VP of sales and marketing would join us in a call each Friday to collectively work through the performance of their campaigns. In these meetings, it became clear to us how much Codies cared about the thoughts and preferences of their online communities. For example, the DIRT5 tagline ‘Let Loose” was a data-led decision based on rigorous paid media A/B testing. And they listened qualitatively as well, diving into the ad comments section, searching for their community’s understanding and using that collective voice to deliver successful results positioned close to the wants and expectations of their player base.
5. Know Your Worth
Recently, Ocushield’s founders, Dhruvin Patel and Asad Hamir appeared on Dragon’s Den UK to pitch their tech-meets-medical blue light blockers to the Dragons for investment. After validating the need for their product in our increasingly screen-oriented world, the Dragons were soon fighting over the chance to invest. Most entrepreneurs given this opportunity, would take the first offer on the table and walk away happy. But Dhruvin and Asad know the worth of their product, and talked the Dragons into teaming up, both investing. When the times are tough, it can be difficult to hold onto your sense of worth. The Ocushield team have taught us that reaffirming your value with real-world results is an actual super power.
6. Have A Good “Why”
One of the clients we are most proud to have the opportunity to work with is the Red Cross Children’s Hospital Trust. Knowing that there is a solid “why” behind the work that we are doing for and with them makes the work extremely fulfilling. And the Children’s Hospital Trust certainly has a massive “why”. One project that stands out for us was the Unsung Heroes campaign. In order to raise money for their Emergency Centre upgrade, they interviewed hospital doctors doing nothing but talking about the challenges at work in an NGO-funded paediatric hospital. The high conversion rates for this campaign acted as a welcome reminder that real content wins, even in paid media. The Children’s Hospital Trust is an authentic client with saving the lives of children at the top of their agenda. Doing work that feeds the soul creates a far stronger drive than simply making a lot of money.
Read more of our blog posts here