Sharing Experience: Victoria Pooley, TDP Agency
I’ve run my business, a direct marketing agency since 2001. It was set up to provide good quality data that could be used for direct and telephone marketing by businesses in practically every sector across the UK.
I was passionate about it and as time went by, this never waned. I had babies and although, perhaps my priorities changed, TDP was still my first born. We rode the 2008 financial crash rollercoaster, got hit in 2015 by a PR thunderstorm, followed by the 2018 hailstorm of data regulation changes under GDPR. We weathered it all overcoming each challenge with fervour and determination.
Then in March 2020, the world stopped turning. The pandemic stoked fear in the hearts of every business owner. We felt like we were thrown under the bus. There was very little help for directors and business owners who were paid through dividends and not eligible for the furlough scheme, and there was no certainty about the future. So, like most, I battened down the hatches hoping for the storm to pass. I watched my turnover nosedive whilst incoming calls and emails dried up. I took the opportunity to tend to my veggie beds, do some DIY, hang with the kids and pretty much do anything else, to avoid facing the fact that my ‘first baby’ was terminally ill.
Facing the fear
Unfortunately, marketing is always the first budget to be cut during difficult times; when it is the thing that should be invested in the most. When sales take a downturn, an increase in marketing investment is the bold choice and as us business owners know; fortune favours the bold.
Despite knowing this, fear prompted me to make the same mistake. I reduced our marketing spend and complained bitterly about others doing the same. I pointed my finger at the pandemic, Government, and everyone, but the mirror. If I’m honest, I was wallowing. I didn’t realise how this had impacted my mental health, my drive and ultimately, my passion for the business.
Until one sleepless night, when I was contemplating throwing in the towel, an epiphany struck! What was I doing? I was playing the victim and wallowing in pandemic pity! Yes, I couldn’t control what was going on around me, or how others responded, but I could control how I responded to it. In that moment, my passion and drive to succeed returned.
Regaining my motivation
The next morning, sleep deprived but a little giddy, I called a company meeting and opened with an apology for not being focused and passionate. My honesty was mirrored, and I found that the staff had all been feeling the same; my own mood and lack of productivity had impacted on their approach too.
So, we collaborated on a game plan, which involved practising what we preached by applying our marketing expertise to our own business model. The answer was so obvious, it was embarrassing! But hey, don’t judge, I’d been wallowing!
We built an email campaign and set up a small telemarketing campaign to follow this up. Plus we ran a direct mail campaign to local businesses. We remarketed to our old contact lists. We executed a digital marketing campaign concentrating on AdWords and SEO. The result was our turnover in September doubled from August, and by October, we hit our first target since March 2020.
I’d learned a very valuable lesson. Business is hard and you can never prepare for all eventualities that are thrown at you. Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t. But without passion businesses wither.