Pulling Through: Honcho’s Lockdown Experience

by | Jun 3, 2020

Chris Ailey, Founder of Honcho, sheds a light on how his agency have dealt with the lockdown, and how they have adapted their business focus to maintain success

In 2018, Chris felt that the SEO agency market was over saturated and that it was becoming harder and harder to stand out. For this reason, he felt it necessary to completely rebrand his agency into Honcho, as it stands today. Chris explains how a mock clothing store in his office helps to make an impact on clients, and how LinkedIn has been a great platform during the COVID-19 lockdown period.

Honcho, previously called IThinkMedia, specialise in:

  • SEO paid media and content
  • PPC (Pay Per Click marketing)
  • Display remarketing.

Chris explains how they stay within their niche, working to specialise in a few areas, like retail, and execute these exceptionally. He describes how Honcho’s choice to ‘niche down’ into specific areas of expertise, and to represent themselves as ‘living and breathing retail’ lead them to have a mock shop set up in their office!

‘When clients visit the office, I really want to give them a retail experience, so we effectively set up our own range of clothing, stocking high quality t-shirts, snapbacks and hoodies. When a client leaves, they choose a t-shirt or hoody. Hopefully they feel as though they have had a retail experience and can see our passion for the sector.’

In a recent LinkedIn post, Chris told his followers that ‘when lockdown struck, I worried that Honcho wouldn’t survive. We lost about 40% of our revenue in the first week’. He explained how a big client base for Honcho the automotive sector is, and that they ‘essentially shut down overnight’.

Chris explained that during the initial transition into lockdown, his main priority was ‘protecting his team’, and that as a company, they ensured that ‘everyone had full pay and that nobody was laid off’. Working longer hours, and into the earlier hours of the night some days, Chris ‘worked every hour that he could’ and was determined that ‘if Honcho were to come out of this, they would come out of it stronger’. The Honcho team ‘kept communicating’ with eachother and their clients. They made sure to focus their attentions on those brands ‘that would be thriving during this period’.

Chris explored how a second LinkedIn update, posted during lockdown, in which he openly discussed losing a client, actually helped Honcho succeed. Among hundreds of responses to his post, Chris was put into contact with the chairman of a big company who were willing to let Honcho pitch for a contact. Honcho not only pitched for the project but won. Chris explained that Honcho went on to ‘win over 4 new clients during lockdown period’.

When asked to talk about how to be successful on Linkedin, Chris suggested that frequent posting, persistence and engaging with others personally were all key to increasing your followers and successfully promoting your business. ‘Posting only when you have something to say and showing personality are both big parts of Linkedin’.

‘Don’t get disheartened if you don’t get anything for a little while, but eventually you’ll start having conversations’. Chris even mentioned how upon trying to explore video marketing on the platform, Honcho published a video of their staff attempting to train the office Dachshund for Crufts. He discussed that despite the video not being ‘business focussed’, that he had had many clients approach him after seeing that video.