In the driving seat

Eric Collins, managing director of Jackloc, reflects on how marketing effected success during a difficult time.

As soon as the first lockdown hit, we were immediately affected; our business is heavily weighted towards the trade market, and with businesses having to close initially, our sales declined.

Our first reaction was to cut back. We needed to have staff in the office to dispatch orders, but physically everyone else could work from home.

From a marketing point of view, we always felt that we wanted to maintain relationships as much as we could, and that marketing would play a vital part in this.

As an owner and managing director of a business, I felt that my role was to ‘keep talking’ and to remain present, even though there were many different plates to spin. I felt – and still feel – that there was no time to lose: the business needed marketing more than ever, and there was absolutely no point in closing, as some clients required our life saving products.

At Jackloc, we pride ourselves on delivering an excellent customer experience, so we were conscious of maintaining that reputation. And we didn’t want to lose momentum at a crucial time.

Therefore, the initial first few weeks of the first lockdown were a series of emails and phone-calls to reassure customers that our production line was still working and that we were able to dispatch orders as normal, and to empathise with those who had had to close for a time.

One particular initiative that worked well, was holding virtual site surveys with customers over video call. We initially instigated this with a hotel customer who wanted an audit and recommendation on three different types of windows at the hotel, and advice on the best window restrictors to choose. This would normally have been a physical visit but by using video we were able to guide him through the process of identifying which window restrictors were the most suitable.

During the call, it was like a lightbulb went off. For facilities managers that were still on site, this was an invaluable service and something that could continue to be done without guests, residents or students in place, so we began a social media and digital marketing campaign to offer this out further to the FM market, which proved successful.

By the time it came to the middle of April the weather was hot and sunny and we turned our attention to our homeowner market. The summer is traditionally a busy time for Jackloc, as homeowners begin to open their windows more. Last year, with families at home, parents working and windows open it became very clear that we needed to ramp up our marketing efforts rather than reduce them, so we began a social media advertising campaign using video targeted at parents across Facebook and Instagram. Luckily, in February we had held a new video shoot, so we were able to use these.

This had a huge impact. Our online sales to homeowners increased by over 900% in June and July alone.

We also began offering our virtual site surveys out to homeowners, which was fantastic, as we were able to create a closer communication with them than purely transactional. As a direct result from these calls we were able to note down their frequently asked questions and fed them to our marketing team to start building new blogs for the website.

And finally, as well as populating the company social media channels with regular features, the sales team and I began using Linkedin more than ever. By doing so, we felt connected to both the industry and the wider business world, sharing thoughts and best practice and cheering on successful campaigns for others.

It felt like we were all in the boat together and Linkedin in particular felt like a collaborative community and space for us.