approx 5 minute read

It can be great being a lone wolf, but we think you should join the pack.

As we are faced with an economic landscape like nothing we’ve ever experienced before, we may find ourselves feeling more isolated than ever as owners and managers of small and medium sized businesses. The uncertainty of a New Normal and a shift in client behaviour can leave many of us at a loss as to where to begin. It’s in times like this that we as a network are particularly grateful of our business community. We’d like to share how we grow businesses through this community.

Nettl is a global network of local web, design, print and sign studios. Our studios help their clients to get more customers and our partner support teams help our Nettl network to do the very same. We’ve been working really hard over the last few months to support our clients, partners and teams in building for the future. We’ve launched new products, streamlined old processes, trained our teams and stood with our clients and partners throughout. We’ve pulled our experiences together to offer some advice in order to help you do the same. So trust me, we get it.  We’ve helped loads of partners and clients through rough patches in the past. And if there is one piece of advice that we could offer you, learn to be Ross from Friends and bloody PIVOT! PIVOT! PIVOT!

As I’m writing to you from the Emerald Isle  with a fresh pint of Guinness in hand, I thought it best to use the Irish word ‘caint’ (meaning talk) as a Haiku to take you through my 5 ways to support your graphics business through this time by leaning on community and network support. 

Cultivate a  Community:

Your business is your baby and we know that. We want to help you nurture it and watch it grow. We don’t want to change your value proposition but we do want to help you establish yourself with your community as the ‘go to guy.’ Unlike so many marketing studios, our local shop front and open door policy differentiates us from the rest. So much so that some of our studios have a cafe! Cool right? Our open door policy allows you to get to know and create a relationship with whomever saunters through the door. Building relationships and offering our expertise is what we love to do best.

Despite being a part of a larger network, our studios have that  friendly local neighbourhood feel to them. With our open door policy, our clients know the faces behind the emails. We have found that these local connections have greatly benefited us during this time. Through strengthening these relationships and being that friendly local neighbour, we can offer support to our communities businesses by informing them about the best practices that they should follow at this time. As well as offering them support through our own marketing ideas such as our Support Sites and Reopening Guides (but we will come back to those later)! 

Similarly, being a Nettl partner allows you to rely on a global community, our inexhaustible resources and an array of support teams to help you be exactly that. Because you may not have the capability to wear all hats to solve every solution (sure, who bloody does)! We are there to support you every step of the way. Some of our already established partners have said that being apart of Nettl is like being apart of something bigger. Don’t worry, we’re not a cult, we’re not that ‘unagi’ version of Ross. This sense of community opens an abundant amount of business opportunities spread across the globe to you and your business. With partners and Nettl studios located across cities, countries and continents you are bound to feel supported. 

 The very root of what we do lies in community. As a network of local creative businesses we communicate with one another on different platforms within our custom CRM system, W3p Flyerlink. We have a global discussion forum for the sharing of ideas, asking of questions and general chit-chat. As well as a Geek channel where our teams can ask pretty much any question (mostly web related and technical in nature) of our Geek team who endow them with the wisest of answers and advice. Using communal platforms means that when I am struggling with integrating a plugin or proposing complex functionality, I have a bank of resources at my fingertips of the Geek tickets of times gone by.

Trusting that you have this support means that you can be confident and comfortable in the knowledge that firstly, if you run into trouble, you’ve a global team to dig you out and enable you to get back on your feet. And secondly, that you can remain an integral part of your local community, rooted in your clients’ successes while excelling your own creative business with that global backing of a wider network of experience and expertise. 

Adapt your Approach :

Covid-19 has really thrown a spanner in the works when it comes to our every day business practices. The processes and plans we had been  following to a T have gone out the window. Consumer behaviour habits have completely changed, as has the way we conduct our business. More than 77% of consumers in the UK stated that they believe their shopping habits have permanently changed. How are UK consumer shopping habits are set to be permanently altered by lockdown, you might ask? Since the beginning of lockdown online shopping has sky-rocketed. 53% of British consumers said that they purchased an item online which they would not have done so pre-pandemic. So what?

Adapting your business in accordance with a  new normal is really stressful.   Something we as a network are working hard to do, and supporting our clients to do, is to grow our Share of Voice. In times like this, we need to be there for our clients. Let’s not jump on a bandwagon, as it hurts when they collapse. 

Let’s instead ask our clients what they’re struggling with, identify what we can help them achieve, and create a streamlined plan to do so. As a network of web, design, print and signs studios, this means we streamline the process of creating new products to help our clients on their journey to a covid-secure workplace and create an entire range that didn’t exist 3 months ago. As a large network of business owners, managers and marketeers, we use our understanding to publish a guide to help clients on that journey as they plan what they need, why and how to best execute it as they reopen their businesses and must consider teams and clients, communications and presence. 

We depend on our local community of contacts and clients to tell us what their struggles are, we lean on our larger network of partners to share the message and grow our combined Share of Voice. What is your niche? Why do you exist as a business? What do your clients need help with? How can you help? We are there for you (another Friends reference, get it?), to offer advice and resources to support your clients during this unprecedented time. We are all fighting to stay active and relevant and your  community can help you to do exactly that. 

Ideas worth Sharing:

Our thinking caps are always on. But the beauty of being a part of Nettl’s  global community is that ideas are shared and centralised. Unlike Joey, the sharing mantra is built into the foundations of our business model. Brilliant business ideas are to be shared so our marketing  becomes your marketing. For example, when Covid-19 turned ‘business as usual’ on its head, one small, simple and brilliant idea brewed in  the Nettl of Dublin office saw the creation of Support Sites.

 It was so successful that the idea was shared across the network within 24 hours. As a result, there are now more than eleven support sites across Nettl partners. It is a bloody brilliant way to start and maintain  client conversations, if we do say so ourselves. And, all the while,  partners are doing some good for  their local business communities. Who doesn’t love a bit of good karma?

There are a number of reasons why establishing a support site for your community is an excellent move on your covid 19 strategy chess board. Not only are you aiding local businesses to inform the wider community as to how to support them during this global pandemic (which is brilliant for your brand recognition!), it is also a new and innovative way to meet, converse and engage with different clients. New Nettl partners soon realise that they have access to a number of nuggets of gold, just like our support sites. Brilliantly thought out marketing practices that benefit  them, as well as clients, are what we live to provide  them with. The scale of the ideas we have had over the years has been enormous and you have the opportunity to utilise them at the click of a button. Two brains are better than one, so imagine what over 200 could do!!!

New Skills and Strategies:

Are you solely a printer by trade? Are you struggling at the moment as things move towards digital? We get it, the big, bold interweb can be intimidating. I’m not really selling this to you yet am I? Well, prepare to be swayed. We know that the demand for website creation and online shopping has shot through the roof  over the last two months. We have seen businesses completely adapt to new models in order to capitalize on the digital movement and the new normal. We get that new things are scary, trust us! We’ve been there and bought the T-Shirt. (Not the Frankie Goes to Hollywood t-shirt, we didn’t like that version of Ross either). But remember, we’ve helped over 230 small businesses to move with the times. So how will you adapt to not only grow your business, but to also increase your client base during this time? 

Well my Friend, look no further. Becoming a Nettl partner grants you access to our brilliant training courses, support team and library of  recipes, tutorial videos and Geek support.

 We can help you to up-skill yourself or your team through our training courses and help you to become the best web designers your local area has to offer. So don’t fret! We can and will support you throughout your Nettl journey. Because getting you new and creative business opportunities is our main priority and what better way than offering your customers with something that you have not been previously able to. Becoming a partner can help you do exactly that. Streamline their design process and offer them with more than just print and graphic design, give them what they are looking for… The overall design package! We want it to be business as usual for you right now and we have the resources, the training and the means to help you do exactly that. Are you interested now? We thought that you might be.

Talk, chatter, natter:

Big brands, huge communities and a growing  share of voice. These things make any business stand out from the crowd. Being associated with a global brand adds a sense of credibility and authority to your businesses’ overall products and services. Well established in the printing and design game, we have embedded ourselves within the industry and are always looking to add the new success story. Your brand recognition, brand visibility and brand influence are essential to your success. We get this, your brand legacy is important. Being  part of a community that has a greater share of voice can help to identify new opportunities and in turn win more business. Our voice is pretty darn loud. Our global size means we can react quickly to changing markets. After all, there’s no I in team.

I hope you found this article useful. The Nettl Method helps businesses like graphic designers, printers and marketing professionals to offer websites by either using their existing in-house team, who we help to up-skill, or by outsourcing the entire project to one of our Geeks.

If you would like more information about how this works, please feel free to connect with us on LinkedIn and we’ll show you the ropes.