Amidst closing out finances for EOFY 19/20, one of my favourite tasks each June is to take time out to reflect on the year that was and share our Media Mortar year in review.
Consider it like one of those Christmas emails you used to receive from a family friend – with a little teaser of what happened and some insights into what’s to come.
Like most business owners, our FY 19/20 will undoubtedly be remembered by the current global pandemic.
But don’t worry, this is a blog post about hope – not the doom and gloom that started for us 11 March 2020 (not to be precise about it or anything).
I say this because as devastating as the effects of COVID-19 is (and was) to our business, it’s given us much to celebrate – clearer focus, tighter processes and new service offerings – to name a few silver linings through a dark time.
It’s my belief that COVID-19 was the setback that’s going to provide for the FY 20/21 come back, so this year’s review is as much about celebrating the end of a financial year as welcoming a new one.
Grab a cuppa and join me as I take you through the highlights and lowlights of FY 19/20 – what we did well and what we learnt along the way.
What we did well
According to Instagram memes ‘a lot can change in a year’, and our FY 19/20 makes a good fist of showing you how.
When I look back at what we’ve achieved, it’s hard to beat our expansion, with the opening of Media Mortar Melbourne. In October 2019, Rochelle made the move south, and we opened an office in Thrive Network, South Melbourne. With a new state came new clients, which Rochelle has been busily acquiring and serving since she lay down roots in postcode 3000.
In line with the expansion, our team transitioned to a completely online project management and time management software system, which allowed our team to work remotely, long before COVID-19 forced the rest of the world to do so.
I am so proud of the way we didn’t really need to adjust our way of working with the pandemic – we were already set up to work remotely and able to run our day-to-day as if it was business as usual.
I truly believe in working remotely and have always managed with the mindset that so long as the work is done, we don’t need to sit together. One of my greatest hopes from COVID-19 is that more businesses realise sitting together is overrated (and expensive).
Last, but certainly not least in our list of big wins, we diversified our service offering with the introduction of paid speaking and webinars nationally. At the start of the year, I set an audacious goal to book at least one speaking engagement per month, something we’ve been able to meet across the year, even through COVID-19 with the introduction (and acceptance) of webinars.
Our speaking engagements, workshops and webinars are services that I significantly want to grow in FY 20/21, as it’s the kind of work that truly lights me up. And, if the feedback we’re getting is anything to go by, it seems to be the kind of work that seems to light our audience up as well.
So, shameless plug – if you’re reading this and know of anyone looking for a speaker, please keep us in mind – you can book us here.
What we learnt
Many will tell you they learnt to pivot this year, but truth is, I don’t actually believe in pivots. I believe in meeting the market where it is – not spinning in circles creating products and services no one wants or needs and exhausting yourself with the dizziness of it all.
Like most businesses, COVID-19 was the mother of all lessons for us. Most of which we had to learn the hard way, unfortunately.
Take for instance our contracting. It hadn’t been as tight as it could be – every client had an iteration of a contract but the contracts were silent on terms to cover a global pandemic. In the absence of force majeure clauses, we had to negotiate outcomes with clients who had paid deposits for events that were now no longer running and other clients who put us on ‘pause’, unpaid out. This prompted a much-needed contract tightening within the business. Thanks to Sarah and the team at JHK Legal, you can expect to see a 14-page contract before we start work – no exceptions (you’ve been warned!).
The pandemic was also the catalyst for formalising our social media offering. Like most small businesses, we had legacy clients paying a fraction of what we now charge for the same work. Through the pause (I’ll clarify again, we didn’t pivot), we were afforded the time to crystalise the pricing and inclusions of our social media packaging. Realising we only have 15 seats at our social media management table (i.e. we can only run 15 accounts at any one time), we need to reserve them for clients willing to pay our full-service offering – photos, management and advertising – not a fraction thereof.
Accordingly, in the midst of the crisis, we actually offboarded clients, anticipating a potential over-index of tourism clients that would come through once travel bans had lifted. A gamble, that I am so proud to say is now paying off.
In line with this, COVID taught us to listen to our gut instinct more when it comes to clients and how they treat us. We’re now running with the policy that if it’s not a hell yes about your project from us straight up, we’ll politely point you to another supplier. So, to the lovely sportswear store who came price shopping, it was a no. Ditto to clients who show any signs of dishonesty – sorry, we’re straight shooters and don’t have time for you.
What we could do better
In a bit of a departure to last years’ process-driven ‘what we could do better’ – this year we’re taking a more spiritual turn.
I’d like us to show more gratitude to our clients.
Oprah has a great quote “what you appreciate, appreciates” and that’s something I’d like to focus on – showing gratitude towards the dream clients we have in our portfolio.
So, if you suddenly start finding thank-you’s in your inbox, you know what’s going on.
We’re also going to walk our own talk a lot more this year because it’s come to our attention through presenting webinars that we often exemplify the old adage “do as I say, not as I do”.
Take for instance Instastories – we’d never actually done piece to camera style stories until this June – so you can be expecting a lot more of them this new financial year.
Similarly, eNewsletters – we’ll be upping that ante since we regularly tell people they have the highest ROI of any form of marketing – and yet only send one per year.
We used the COVID ‘pause’ to segment our send and will be sending our DIY tips and tricks out in line with our Monday Mentor program we started over COVID-19 on our LinkedIn.
So, there you have it – we’re primed for a big year ahead. Let’s hope our prediction comes true and indeed this COVID-19 setback has just been the foundation for an FY 20/21 comeback.
By Hannah Statham
Hannah Statham is The Boss at Media Mortar. She’s a heavy weight wordsmith, punching with puns, analogies and metaphors that leave readers wanting more. When she’s not refreshing her Instagram feed, you’ll find Hannah walking her rescue greyhound Olivia.