When the pandemic hit, Chris Donnelly’s agency was dealt a huge blow.
“Lockdown crucified our clients, and therefore us. I think we lost well over half our revenue, and many clients, in the space of 14 days,” explains the founder and CEO of VERB Brands. “It was something like £200k a month of revenue loss, so it was a significant change.”
Chris realised he needed to pivot the business, and fast.
“We’d lost at least 30% of our portfolio, mostly in hospitality and fashion. We switched to financial, medical and e-commerce brands, which was a big shift in the type of clients we’d worked with,” he says. “It became clear that it was about targeting different types of brands, but also changing our own story in the process.”
He also looked at changing the way they sell to clients, and the way they reward staff.
This led to a heavier focus on performance-based billing, and to a more clearly defined revenue focus.
“It’s had a huge impact, because it means less risk for brands to start actually working with us in the first place,” Chris explains. “We’ve switched the business to a new framework called GROW, which assesses people on several criteria to help measure performance. Each team now has a very defined focus, with every team member now aware of their individual targets.”
Chris believes that having to switch VERB’s tactics so quickly in the wake of the pandemic was a wake-up call: the business is now performing and growing better than it ever was.
“Before, we had a comfortable, well-known business, we were satisfied with our profits – COVID destroyed that. However, it meant that we needed to refocus ourselves, and we realised that our old business would not work as well as it does now, and that’s down to the fundamental changes we made because of the lockdown.”
Join us in conversation with Chris to discuss in more detail the action he took to pivot his business, and how the pandemic reframed his agency’s overall processes.