Resilience is the key - Scarborough company learn to adapt in a Covid world
As part of our #SupportScarborough features, we spoke to Chris Marson of Marson Brothers about the growth of his business, before, during and after the first lockdown.
Chris, 32, spent several years working in the printing and marketing industry before launching his own company in 2017, which is a design, print and marketing specialist.
He said: “We were just coming out of the start-up phase and had built a bank of around 250 businesses.
“We moved into a new office in the centre of Scarborough and were poised ready to look at taking on our first staff. I even started to look at taking a proper wage. Things were looking good.”
Then the pandemic hit and the business had to face the challenges that lockdown would bring. Chris, who lives in Seamer, said: “It was like having a rug pulled from underneath you. It was shocking. I don’t know if I could put into words how I initially felt.
“The work virtually stopped. I thought ‘do I pull the plug on it and go and find a job?’
“Then Rishi Sunak came out with a lifeline, all this cash and grants – I thought ‘I’m surely going to be eligible for that’, but no, I slipped through every net.”
After a great deal of consideration Chris decided to drive the business forward.
He created a free poster to help local businesses and printed 500 copies emblazoned with the slogan “We’re open for business”.
Chris said: “ I thought even if people couldn’t afford or couldn’t budget for having their own brand stuff, I could get these posters out.”
He then started an online campaign #SupportOurScarborough to help promote the free posters.
In the early days of lockdown, Marson Brothers’ partners at printing.com rapidly created a series of new, Covid related products. It was to be a turning point.
Chris said: “We quickly got to market things like sneeze guards and branded facemasks and floor stickers which we pushed out through Facebook during May, and a bit of momentum started coming back.
“We saw this as a big reset and we came out of the traps flying. I think it inspired a lot of other businesses as well.
“From the middle of May things started to roll. We bought a brand new printer that is crystal clear and we helped to get a lot of businesses ready to open on July 4.
“It meant that we could get a design file ready and in some cases I was actually editing the files the morning they were opening, because the rules were changing all the time, and printing off their guidelines to sit outside their stores.
“That printer was a key purchase. A business in Scarborough can create an event in a morning and have a poster ready to market it that night. I quite like having that facility in-house.”
From the beginning of June until July 4, Chris worked incredibly long hours. He would arrive at the office at 7am and work until 7pm, go home and have tea and then return to the office to do another four to six hours.
“I just kept going. I didn’t want to let anybody down. All of these businesses had seen what I’d done and put their faith back in me. So I did what needed to be done to get them ready for July 4.
“I’ve picked up a new business partner in all this, so we’re going to bring in a new social media and content creation wing.
“I want to help local businesses so their online marketing and their tangible marketing works hand-in-hand.
“Also, behind the scenes we’ve been working on our website which has live pricing for 5,000 products.
“This means existing clients can quickly go on and re-order.
“As a business we’ve learnt that resilience is the key. This pandemic has forced you to be resilient.
"Anything after this will hopefully be easier or a walk in the park, but you never know. I don’t want to create a business so rigid that when the world changes we can’t change with it.”