Staying ahead of the crisis curve

SearchGuru, one of Southeast Asia’s largest digital agency specialising in Paid Media, SEO and Creative, turns the current challenges into an opportunity to go above and beyond for existing and new clients.   With the well-being of clients and their people in mind, both the co-founders, Larry Lim and YC Ng, along with the management team are doing their best in preparing for the new normal. 

Larry Lim and YC Ng

Putting the team’s safety and well-being first

It is the founders’ priority to keep their people safe and provide support to clients through the current pandemic. Throughout the lockdown period, the SearchGuru team has actively shared crucial data related to COVID-19 and cultivated level 2 thinking skills among team members. 

Weekly virtual meetings were held to ensure everyone in the team is doing well and receives support from other team members. They have also continued fostering a good working relationship and environment even while working from home through after-hours activities like workouts, quizzes, self-improvement sharing and informal virtual hangouts.  A buffer was also put in place to ensure the current working plan goes well, especially for SearchGuru’s employees.

For safety reasons, they have implemented an A/B team working system in preparation for when they are back in the office. A new set of SOP for working teams are in place as well to ensure smooth-sailing operations, even when some of their employees are working away from the office. “Our people have always been the life and blood of SearchGuru’s growth. We are committed to making sure that our people do not suffer the economic and well-being consequences from the outbreak. Both Larry and I along with the management team have several plans in line to ensure everyone in the office is protected,” says YC Ng, COO of SearchGuru.

Focusing on ways digital marketing can help businesses through the crisis

It is important that clients who have chosen to stay active still get the same level of service and professionalism, if not more. Prospective clients are going to be less open to the idea of letting agencies walk through the door and shake hands, but there’s an opportunity here to step up and build trust through frequent communication, education and sharing. 

The situation we are facing right now has shown that businesses are becoming more reliant on digital. Often, a solid digital strategy is a deciding factor in whether businesses will make it through these tough times.  At SearchGuru, the team got on board with the new processes very quickly and has been working out contingency plans since the early stages of the COVID-19 situation.  From a client-partner perspective, they have been talking to clients more often than before to ensure that they are alert at all times. They have also been cultivating a business-strategy thought process among team members to foster and understand action plans from a business point of view.  

Some of the working measures carried out while they were working from home include hosting more face-to-face virtual meetings, rearranging working SOPs to suit the change in demands (e.g: Monthly content calendar temporarily changed to a weekly content calendar) and introduced monthly virtual meetings with clients to ensure all communications are on the same page.

“Just like everyone else, we do have clients pausing campaigns and reducing budgets. But we are extremely cautious about the changes happening around us and have made it a point to be proactive in our measures. The management team is having weekly meetings to update, manage and coordinate action plans. More aggressive steps are also in plan with corresponding triggers, in case of a prolonged downturn during this unprecedented time.” says Larry Lim, CEO of SearchGuru. 

Despite concerns in the drop of clients or ad spend, they managed to retain clients, campaigns and signed new clients throughout the crisis. In support of their clients, the team has put together different digital marketing strategies to help clients adapt their business during the COVID-19 situation.

From this exercise, it has also triggered new forms of business models and innovative strategies for different brands. Upon completion of their market research to understand the change in consumer behaviour affected by COVID-19, they recommended businesses to focus on three core directions during the lockdown period:

1.Create market needs by showcasing how effective products help to solve new problems and make consumers feel comforted at home during the quarantine period

2.Create meaningful, creative online activities and content that can push the community to continue using the products as well as stay connected with the brands.

3.Build consumers’ trust by emphasising on how they can purchase the products online easily and get instant support from the company.

While preparing for the post-lockdown period, the team saw that organic search has been increasing significantly — with offline and e-commerce businesses experiencing a surge in organic traffic ranging from 20%-44% during MCO in Malaysia.     

And based on the new business landscape, the team at SearchGuru suggests shifting towards localising SEO and marketing plans. When people search for information online, brands should also stay top of mind with relevant content that helps consumers.

The post-lockdown sales might increase due to the release of the pent-up demand. It is also essential for brands to enhance their online presence and remain cautious in case of a 2nd wave pandemic lockdown. 

Apart from working hand in hand with clients as their support, SearchGuru would also like to help the community grow, especially in the current economic situation.

Seeing that their strategies went well for clients, they are launching a CSR training programme under SearchGuru Academy to help SMEs and individuals learn more about digital marketing.

Trainers will be sharing effective case studies and the best practices — providing insights for post-lockdown/COVID-19 plans. SearchGuru Academy is headed by Sophia Liew, who is part of the agency’s pioneer team.

“It is imperative that we think of the community around us and help each other. I hope the training initiative will be beneficial to all attendees and help businesses thrive in these challenging times.

Sophia Liew

It has always been SearchGuru Academy’s goal to nurture digital marketing skills among marketers from all levels. Our trainers are certified and experienced campaign managers handling over hundreds of campaigns across verticals,” adds Sophia Liew, Senior Manager, Corporate Training & Marketing of SearchGuru.

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