COVID Creativity - Snowbird Creatives
Client Name: Candy Osborne
Business Name: Snowbird Creatives
Business Website: snowbirdcreatives.com
Location: Nashua, NH
SBDC Advisor's Name: Julie Glosner
First, what is your business? What do you do?
I founded and operate a digital marketing agency, Snowbird Creatives. We grow businesses with marketing strategies, lead generation, and creatives services.
When the shutdown began, what was the immediate impact on your business?
As marketers, we were not considered essential. We have an office in Nashua that I personally worked out of daily. The rest of the team was already working remotely either in the U.S. or internationally, respectively. I packed up a few things from the office the Friday before St. Patrick's Day in March and have only been back to the office three times since then - once to ensure good bandwidth to present at a Digital Marketing conference, once to meet a client for a TV commercial shoot and once to meet with an out-of-town colleague to share marketing strategies.
From an operational standpoint and the nature of the services we provide, we could still carry on. However, we immediately lost a lot of clients and work.
How were you able to adapt (or not) during the first few months of the pandemic?
As a marketer living through a first-ever pandemic along with everyone else, in the beginning, it truly wasn't clear what the path forward was. But in a short time, we realized that businesses needed to change what they were doing and keep marketing to make announcements of changes, reassure customers about safety precautions they were taking, and be a presence when others would not. I recall even emailing some of my own clients any research I had done on the PPP and EDIL programs since everything was coming at us so quickly. We ultimately realized that the clients who could start back up and pivot what they were doing were the ones with a greater success outlook. For example, several of our clients running Google PPC campaigns (paid ads) quit on the spot with knee-jerk reactions to stop spending money. All of our fitness clients immediately halted marketing. Several clients quilt altogether.
Once businesses were able to open in NH, how did you adapt your business, services, products, and/or physical space?
Business started picking back up once there was an end in sight, and business owners could see that they needed to keep marketing to stay in the game.
In terms of physical space, I worked from the dining room table alongside my then 6th grader. Over the summer, for sanity's sake, I persuaded my husband to hire a contractor to insulate and drywall the shed so that I could make that a dedicated space starting with the fall school schedule and my now 7th grader. (He now has my old, now refurbished laptop in his room for schoolwork.) I should mention that my husband often worked from home, and we live in a very small house at just 960 square feet and one level. It was very challenging in the first few months to have a conversation or Zoom meeting without hearing one of the other family members.
While we were slow with client work, I took the opportunity to think more deeply about the business and strategized a new product line targeting new small businesses. It's a Small Biz Marketing Bootcamp that will cover foundational marketing needs for new small business owners. It's a 30-day program with an email each day and a valuable download of a guide, checklist, worksheet, template, etc., that business owners can use to plan their marketing. It will truly help them jumpstart their marketing efforts. We are halfway through production and intend to launch this calendar year.
I've also been working on a strategy for business operations and process consulting. I've seen that as much as we can help in defining and rolling out marketing programs if there's a breakdown in the sales or operations process, the marketing doesn't work as well as it could.
So I have pivoted to creating passive income products that will help small businesses and extend our service offering to include business processes and consultation.
Will you continue the changes and adaptations you have made once concerns over COVID-19 are behind us? Are you planning to institute more changes in the near future?
Absolutely. This first marketing boot camp is just the beginning of more involved courses to come. We'll develop more valuable, practical content for small business owners and continue to expand the operational efficiency consultation and implementation. The latter is the less sexy side of business and marketing but so very much needed: systems research and implementations, process documentation, team training, etc.
If you have employees, how has your workforce been affected?
I currently have two contractors that work 20 hours per week and an adjunct team of specialists that I bring on as needed for special projects. I am the only official "employee." I had to make some adjustments, unfortunately, and two contractors were negatively impacted.
How are you communicating with customers now? Are you marketing in the same ways you were prior to COVID-19?
Yes, but the new product launch (Small Biz Marketing Bootcamp) will force new marketing channels.
Tell us about how 2020 relief funds made a difference for you and your business.
Snowbird Creatives received an EIDL and a PPP loan. Getting that helped me stay afloat when clients dropped like flies around me. It helped bridge the gap until things picked up a bit, and we were able to gain more traction.
How has SBDC helped you and your business, especially in the last year?
Julie and I meet monthly and check in on the state of things. We connect on people, systems, processes, and ideas. I appreciate having a touchpoint with a local, knowledgeable business expert who has my best interest in mind.