Podcast, Positioning

Ep 20: How Agencies Can Reevaluate and Reposition Themselves During Challenging Times with Rachel Jacobs

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Ep 20: How Agencies Can Reevaluate and Reposition Themselves During Challenging Times with Rachel Jacobs

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The backstory behind Ecommerce Partnerships

Rachel has over ten years of experience doing marketing and partnerships and has worked in a number of different industries: nursing, finance, construction, and with start-ups. 

She fell into the SaaS-side of eCommerce for a while before she turned to the Darkside and “accidentally” joined one of the leading Shopify plus agencies in London.

Her experience led to her finding her passion in the business; she knew this was what she wanted to do. With her entrepreneurial heart, she left to start her own company. She loves eCommerce and has always believed that business is always about partnerships (which is where the name of her company came from). 

At Ecommerce Partnerships, Rachel works with eCommerce agency owners and helps them build retainer models, boost lifetime values, and put structures in place (which will aid them to scale profitably in the future).


Trends Rachel is seeing due to the pandemic

Not long after she moved to a new country, she found herself a hostage of the pandemic. Not only is it a weird time to be in a new country, it is also a weird time to be in business–especially a business that has overhead and has mouths to feed.

So I think, all around, it’s just a lot of panic and a lot of uncertainty. People not really knowing what to do right now.

Plans every business needs to make…immediately

1. Finance plan

Pinpoint the minimum profit margin for your agency and work out if your current book of works will achieve that. Then put a clear plan in place to deliver this work on time and within (ideally under where possible) budget. I have a great cashflow/projections template for anyone who needs it.

2. Team plan

Outline a plan to keep your team motivated while working from home. Pinpoint the potential weak spots and put a plan in place to avoid or address them should they arise. Anyone struggling to make remote work for their team, let me know as I have a couple of great resources from an expert in that field. 

3. Client plan

Agree a schedule of communication between your team and all your active clients. Your team need to be proactive in communicating with clients, especially for clients who have paused things temporarily – they need to know your team is ready to give them a head start on their competitors. If you need any suggestions on how to defrost some of the clients on pause, drop me a line. 

4. Pipeline plan

Review your current and recent pipeline to figure out where the key growth opportunities are. The goal right now is to start filling your pipeline so that you end this quarter with a healthy pipeline. Look at previous marketing efforts or tactics that have worked for you before, and figure out how to repurpose them to increase interest. Happy to share some strategies that seem to be working for agencies right now, just send me an email. 

5. Operatons plan

A crisis will highlight areas in your agency that work really well and areas that have been neglected for too long (i.e. perhaps a lack of processes is impacting profitability). Make a list of what needs to be worked on and include those into your 90-180 day goals (I have a simple template to structure this is anyone needs it). If you’re not exactly sure what parts of your business should have systems and processes in place, I’m happy to do a mini-assessment on where you’re agency is at and what needs the most focus.

Me personally, I love a good conspiracy theory. I feel pretty strongly there will definitely be a global recession after this.

The switch to working remotely

Ecommerce agencies have been having to make adjustments in order to allow their team to work remotely. As far as teams are concerned, there is definitely a bit of friction because they are used to having day-to-day contact and meetings to check in with one another. According to Rachel, having friction due to the sudden expectation of being thrust into a work-from-home environment where team members aren’t able to “see people” can be a clue to a business’s lack of structure.

Some people do need that physical interaction, however. While some of us are able to see family members or roommates while they work from home, not everyone has that luxury and that must be taken into consideration as well. 

Agencies should be focusing on transparency and making sure that their teams are taken care of: professionally and mentally. They should also keep in mind that, since client interactions can no longer be face-to-face, certain considerations have to be made in order to convey brand and their business model via the internet.


Tools Rachel utilizes to overcome the lack of face-to-face interaction

Rachel suggests (at the minimum) the importance of upgrading to a paid Zoom account. Ultimately it comes down to communication and managing expectations.

Don’t be so married to your processes that you can’t transition or make it work for the current climate.

Every client is unique, so you may have to pivot, alter, and implement new systems that work with different clients. You never know;  you might come up with something better.


Framework, tools, or books that help implement the five plans

Talk to people. Rachel emphasizes the importance of communicating and sharing information with others. While she had been working from home for five years prior to this crisis, the pandemic has brought her network of entrepreneurs even closer. 

Even if you are used to working from home, it is still not normal to be cooped up indoors, all the time.

Exchanging ideas, talking through challenges, overcoming problems or obstacles is made easier when you have a sounding board of fellow entrepreneurs to talk to. It is also important to support one another through this difficult time.


Rachel’s Personal Mission Statement

Rachel has a couple of phrases or “words of wisdom” which she lives by: 

“If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb

“Simplicity is the key to brilliance.” – Bruce Lee

This interview is part of the How We Solve podcast. To hear more from industry experts who are solving everyday business problems, check us out on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and on our website.

About the guest

Rachel Jacobs

Rachel Jacobs

Rachel Jacobs is the founder of Ecommerce Partnerships, a company that helps businesses with their positioning, acquisition, delivery, and retention.

How to find Rachel Jacobs

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