Over the past few months Marble LDN’s CEO, Teddy Watt, has published a series of articles detailing his experience and learnings from navigating a live experience agency through Covid-19.
The first piece focused on Learnings on Solidarity, Survival & Social responsibility during Covid-19, this outlined the first of our three part strategy: Survival. While survival in this ever changing landscape is an endurance test, Teddy described how the actions we took stabilised the business in the mid term. These included saving, cuts, loans, payment holidays, cash, contracts, supply chain and delivery. If you wish to see this piece in full drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The below article co-authored with our COO, Emi Perez-Fragero, describes the kick-off of phase 2 over the last 3 weeks: Innovate and Adapt.
Innovate and adapt: small business advice
Like so many industries ours has seen massive disruption through government protocol and social distancing. This is likely to continue for at least the next 6 months, most likely longer.
Our first reaction was to our clients needs. We provide a medium of communication that is hard to replicate. The human condition that allows for emotional connections to be made through brand led, physical activations is hard to achieve in the saturated landscape of online marketing. So we needed to continue to provide the medium to our clients.
Secondly we needed to collaborate to a much greater extent with our clients than ever before. One of the big learnings taken from the 2008 financial crisis was those that slashed marketing budgets, especially toward brand activation and building, suffered long term consequences. Peter Field outlines this brilliantly in the this article: Advertising in Recession — Long, Short, or Dark? Therefore it was our responsibility to make sure we protected our clients for the benefit of both parties.
So how to deliver; live experience is what Marble is all about. We believe in the power of its connection, values and unending possibilities it provides in an often unsatisfying digital landscape. We also believe in the future; there will be a time in the not so distant future that life resumes almost as usual so whatever action we took now needed to be part of long term strategy, not short term fix. For us it was about re-weighting our service offering and building campaigns that can capture a, potentially, far larger audience within new demographics, combined with valuable data that we can use to build out a physical live experience campaign, when the time is right. Therefore our current situation started to show signs of opportunity.
The potential is massive, millions of people forced into homes, with more time than they have ever had to fill whilst, in so many cases people of all ages and backgrounds start engage with experiences they never had before.
It’s these trends combined with the human necessity for interaction that has driven our campaigns since lockdown, and will probably remain a mainstay of our campaign journeys.
In summary, the extreme environment has accelerated an element of our business that was already vital but underutilised and adds enormous value to our offering for our clients.
However, going full circle, we are still a live experience agency and our particular model is end to end. We own our production line, warehouse, workshop, technical equipment, lighting, sound etc that allow us to build and produce these physical interpretations. So how to keep these vital elements meaningful in these conditions?
Our CLO came up with the answer. Partnering with Chef Tom Thornton to produce Marbelous fruit, vegetable and pantry boxes. This had a raft of positive effects:
- First and foremost the revenue from the boxes pays Tom’s wages so that he can produce 200 NHS meals a day
- Secondly our operations team were back in action, driving, packing and delivering as well designing intricate weekly drop schedules over 8 counties
- Thirdly it allowed us to provide a vital service for shoppers who were at risk and allowed us to contribute to many in need through associated charities
- Fourthly it contributed to the overheads for the operations department
- Lastly it gave us some much needed exposure among new consumer markets. By partnering with our friends and clients in F&B we produced the Marbelous Lock Down Hamper alongside the likes of Patty & Bun, PROPER CORN, Mallow and Marsh, Duppy Share, Seedlip to name a few. New relationships are built and a great product for the moment
Like any company Marble’s culture is really what makes Marble, well, Marble. The company values are at the epicentre of how we go about our work and what we build our business on. Myself, and my fellow founders, all came from companies where there was little or no culture. So for us, our values are the pillars on who we decide to hire, how we treat one another in the workplace, how we approach our work, how we look at personal growth, how we work with our clients, and how we want Marble to impact the world and environment around us.
With all of this, we are proud to say that there is a strong culture at Marble. However, like every other aspect of the business Coronavirus challenged this. How do you nourish team culture when you are not physically together? We are so used to creating together and collaborating together round one table. We felt there were 5 key areas that needed adapting or really emphasizing whilst the team are working from home. The full article will be shared as a followup to this, but here is a snapshot on one of the areas about re-working our current cultural initiatives to fit with our working from home (WFH) setup.
It was and is really important for us that we maintain the same level of energy and good vibes when faced with the day to day challenges we are all faced with. This is a core approach of Marbles. In the office we found this has been nurtured with specific initiatives. I’ll outline a couple of examples and how we adapted these for WFH:
- Shoutouts: Usually anonymous messages submitted by team members bi-weekly. These are usually read out loud in the office with some drinks- messages of thanks, praise and light-hearted fun. Shoutouts are simply about acknowledging each other, vocally in front of the whole team. For lockdown shoutouts are recorded via video presented creatively, they have been both hilarious and vital to group recognition during this time.
Work drinks & celebrations: Of course virtually. Usually now quiz time, time together, outside of project work has been so valuable. Remember birthdays and milestones are still so important to celebrate.
- Keeping current, getting out, exploring the arts. An important value to us and one of the more difficult during lockdown. However, we started new slack groups which included ‘cool corona home ideas’ with the purpose of sharing tips and ideas for the team to get up to during lockdown. From virtual art tours to a whole array of workshops. Content is plentiful, and the items individuals have shared have been brilliantly individual, funny, educational, random – all sparking team conversation and inspiration.
- Team training: We pride ourselves on encouraging and offering team training. Furlough or shorter working hours offers a perfect opportunity for training to take place. Nurture and grow your team during this time, there is nothing more satisfying than skilling up.
- In a recent survey we conducted 89% of the team felt the virtual adaptations of these initiatives were valuable in maintaining company culture.