A personal note:
In March, we all had the heavy news of COVID-19 striking the globe. This brought a lot of uncertainty to everyone and many businesses across the globe have been impacted in various different ways. Not one business or individual has shared the same story, so we thought we’d share ours with you.
Let’s start by saying that at Circulate, we’ve faced many challenges, and it’s in these times you have to look for a fresh perspective and approach. You have to evolve, you have to recreate the processes, change the rules and fight as hard as you can to make sure that you can continue to push through any challenges presented to you.
This is why we do what we do. We always strive to succeed no matter what lies ahead. One of my beliefs is that failure is the key to success. If you don’t experience failure, then you’ll never know what success feels like.
As entrepreneurs, up until this point, we thought we had seen it all. In uncertain times, all you can do is fight to keep things afloat. As a family business, we’re all in it together… no matter what the outcome.
To make matters worse, 2 days before the lockdown, we also lost our mother. This was a devastating addition to what we had ahead. It actually inspired us to do something very different which I’ll mention shortly.
So what happened amid the initial chaos?
Well, like a lot of businesses, we saw our hospitality clients crumble overnight. With cuts to pretty much all of the hospitality sector, we knew we had to support these clients in any way possible. We utilised our capacity to ensure that all clients in struggling sectors still had our support through longer-term tactics on SEO, this has been our key highlight to ensure that the progress we had built up over the years didn’t get lost.
If you’ve ever dealt with Circulate you’ll know that when we bring on clients we do so very carefully. We have a very strict process for ensuring that we bring on the right clients that fit our culture. We see our clients as an extension to our family and this was one of the reasons why COVID-19 was a terrible blow both emotionally and financially for everyone involved. Nevertheless, the only option we could do was to support these clients as best as possible to make sure that they could come back fighting again.
In the healthcare sector, we saw a rise in support required for our clients. That’s why we over-invested in these areas, especially around our care providers, who were supporting the elderly during this crisis.
During these times we saw massive amounts of support from the public around the care sector with our clients having to move fast to keep their businesses pushing forward. We saw more press coverage and a complete shift in the industry. We noticed that a lot of budgets were cut across paid channels – with competitors and trends changing in search engines, so our goal was to ensure that we were at the forefront of these new trends.
In order to propel ourselves forwards, we built new campaigns that targeted new trends and this helped us to continue providing our clients with a healthy stream of new prospects. I always like the saying of “when one door closes another opens”, and this is definitely what we saw in healthcare.
One of the most amazing things we spotted during the start of COVID-19 was actually in e-commerce. With most people on furlough, and the shops closed to the public, this opened a new opportunity for businesses that sold products online.
In May 2020 we saw one of the strongest campaign results in history with one of the fashion brands that we work with. Our campaigns achieved a 49:1 ROI throughout the entire month of May. We believe that this is due to consumers changing their shopping habits and this was an amazing opportunity for any business selling products online, one that we fully maximised.
Evolving with the times
With most brands cutting budgets, we opened ours up. We developed a proof of concept and our clients saw some crazy, crazy results… I think as business owners, we all need to take risks and not be scared and I think it’s fair to say at this moment we took more risks than ever before. Luckily we had such an amazing team in place and I am forever grateful to how my team dealt with the new challenges whilst working from home.
At Circulate, we knew that these results would require a lot of time investment and we have continued to over-invest in our clients. We have also been fortunate enough to open the door to some new fantastic clients that have decided to reshape their business too.
In all honesty, I think COVID-19 has woken us up. It’s shown us that there are more opportunities than ever before, with carefully planned strategies in place. Diversifying our strategies is what has made us so nimble to change.
So… what about Circulate?
How was our business impacted? At the start of COVID-19 we lost roughly 30% of our revenue, but since then we have seen the business grow more than 30%… and we’re now working towards even bigger growth targets with new clients coming on board.
We’ve seen a lot of companies coming to us to reshape their strategies. One of the biggest changes that we made is into our tooling. We have used some of our time to reinvent the processes that keep our business so strong; starting with better time and project management platforms to help us manage all of our projects.
Market research tools
We have also invested in advancements within our user experience testing and market research tools. I am a big believer that everything should be data-driven, especially during these times. We have put more focus than ever into developing better customer experiences and have developed more customised reporting to lead our customers in the right direction based on data insights.
Other lessons from lockdown
At the time of writing this, I am actually travelling back to Barcelona. After 7 months of being away from the UK, it’s taught me some very valuable life lessons that I know we can take forward into the future years to come.
One of the most important learnings is that our business is designed for people. Our staff are the most important people and these super talented experts have helped our clients to get through the most difficult of times. Many clients had left our service due to instant budget cuts, but returned based on our level of service and continued support throughout the crisis.
The birth of OOM Fitness
On top of all of the challenges that we have seen, we have also been fortunate enough to identify a fantastic new business opportunity. This lead to the birth of our new brand: OOM Fitness (oomfitness.com). This is a business that has been designed from the ground up, and our focus is to support people that are struggling with mental health to become fitter and stronger than ever before both mentally and physically.
It’s all about becoming your own inspiration. We designed a fitness challenge and launched this in May 2020 with a set of 9 daily rules to keep you focused during the lockdown. This was an absolute game-changer for many people that took part in the challenge. I’ve had people stop me and tell me that this has changed their life, and for me, this comes down to why I do what I do. The OOM30 challenge sure as hell kept us fully focused, and this has been one of the key elements to our success during COVID-19.
COVID-19 – a time of challenge
COVID-19 will be something that we will all remember. It’s something that has challenged everyone. It’s not over yet, but we are confident that together, we will continue to support businesses to break through this economic nightmare.
I’d like to say thank you to all of our amazing clients for keeping up the hustle and being true inspirations to us. Most importantly, I’d like to thank my team who have worked late, to make sure that we still continue to build our clients businesses despite what is going on with COVID-19.
If you’re ever wanting to discuss how we can help you… or just fancy a chat, the door is always open!