Christian Thomson, Founder & CEO of Marwick Marketing

Christian Thomson is the founder and CEO of Marwick Marketing in Canada and Marwick Marketing in the UK, a full-service search marketing agency listed in the Top 20 Fastest Growing Companies in British Columbia last year. He’s also a professional surfer, competing all over the world. He also leads the team at 10 Over Surf Shop – an online surf shop in Europe.

How is Marwick Marketing coping right now?
We’ve been really busy helping our clients pivot their business and marketing. We’ve seen clients “pause” their digital marketing campaigns, and we have been supportive of that and they know we will be ready to help them once they are ready to start again. As for our team, we’re more of a big family, so obviously everyone is doing their best to support each other as work from home, juggle work, children, homeschooling and so on. I’m very humbled by how well our team has come together even more during these times.

How has the crisis affected your business, and how do you anticipate it will affect it?
Marketing is an easy cost to cut, so naturally, a marketing agency will always take the first hit. I anticipate a few more clients pausing campaigns in the coming week. However, any savvy business owner knows that the bounce back will come, and it’s important to be there when it does. In fact, studies show that maintaining your marketing and advertising spend during a downturn will increase your market share by 0.6% and increasing your marketing and advertising during a downturn can add an additional 4% of market share once in the recovery period. So, I’m focused on this for our agency and our clients’ companies.

How are you supporting your clients and staff?
We’re providing clients with the opportunity to “pause” rather than cancel. This basically means we continue to track their SEO positions on Google, monitor their Google Ads and keep all their accounts open at no charge until they are ready to ramp it up again.

We have also created a detailed landing page for business owners (clients and non-clients) packed full of marketing advice, for example how we think demographics change during a crisis, the psychology of customers and statistics on marketing during a downturn.

When it comes to our staff, it’s all about communication, talking to each other and being transparent about what’s going on at Marwick, making sure they are up to date on our short-term actions and our long-term goals.

What is the opportunity in the challenge for you and the business?
The opportunity is two-fold; from a business owner’s point of view, I see this as a good opportunity to acquire clients from agencies that can’t weather the storm or didn’t care enough about building strong relationships with their clients. We’re using this time to train our entire in-house digital marketing team so that they can be even more knowledgeable about Google Ads, SEO, Social Media and so on to benefit our client’s companies. The second is the rebound or recovery. When companies re-open they are going to need digital marketing more than ever and we will be here to help.  So, we’re going to see a big dip for the next six weeks, but I anticipate we’ll see a big increase in business before the summer.

What advice have you applied or are you applying from previous experiences coping through crises?
Stay cool. Stay calm. Take short term action but focus on the long-term goals. If you can, invest in marketing, and earning more “share of mind” so that when things do bounce back, and they will, people will remember Marwick Marketing over our competition.

What are your resources right now? Do you have a mentor supporting you, peer group, books you read?
Bill our accountant has always been an incredible sounding board. I also draw strength from our team and support from my wife and children.

What advice do you have for others experiencing this alongside you?
Change your perspective. Times are uncertain and stressful but changing your perspective to being positive and seeing this shake-up as an opportunity is by far the best (and only) thing we can do.

Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher, says “If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.” It sounds a little harsh but if you stand strong, positive and determined you’ll see your competitors scale back and retreat, thus opening up the opportunity to gain more market share for the benefit of your staff and their families.