When Lockdown hit The Marketing Meet Up was a national networking community, with 16,000 member and 140 events a year. Founder Joe Glover is a shining example of how a business successfully, and seemingly overnight, changed how it operated. Here he talks to me about the affect of the pandemic on his business and how he has successfully moved his entire business model online.
1. Where are you spending Lockdown and how do you manage your day?
I am at home, just outside Ely, Cambridgeshire with my wife and my dog. I feel very lucky to have some garden space which has been unreal, plus we live very close to the countryside which is a godsend. In terms of managing my day, I have been working from home for the past year so there hasn’t been much of a change in terms of how I manage my day. I’m up by 7o’clock to walk the dog and start working between 9-10. I’m working most days – which is great as a love my job. And even in those downtimes I am usually “working” which I do willingly.
2. What are the biggest adjustments you’ve had to make in terms of your work, managing your teams/ clients?
The Marketing Meet Up is an events business at its core and we have had to move everything we did in person and try to replicate it online. It’s especially tricky when you’re looking to enable those moments of serendipity at an event when you say hello to someone new or see someone you haven’t met up with in years. That’s hard to replicate online. The way we have approached it is to split our events into two. We have webinar events which are more educational and then we have the “Conversation Club” which is far more reminiscent to what you’d expect in traditional networking. We gather people together via Zoom and split them into virtual breakout rooms where they chat and get to know each other. So that’s been a ginormous change in terms of our offering and doing things differently. But it’s been quite successful.
3. Do you expect that your company will return to BAU post lock down or do you think there will be some changes? If so what?
One example that we are going to change is we will probably look to maintain a stronger digital presence as well as resume the physical meet ups. It maybe that people may not be comfortable in gathering where there are a lot of people, so we’d like to offer them 2 ways in which to be part of the MMU community. We’ll probably start with smaller events rather than return to the grand scale we did before.
I’d like to maintain the speed and innovation that we have been able to do things but the main things that has stayed the same is our core values of looking after each other, being stronger together and making each other better. That hasn’t changed.
4. Have you been impressed or put off by any particular brands in how they have responded to the crisis?
I wouldn’t like to bad mouth any brands in particular. I think that anyone that has been sending a message with “A message from our CEO” at this stage has slightly missed the right moment. I feel there has been a ground swell of independent or smaller businesses who have taken the time to support the NHS or to be more community focused which has been great. Anyone who has taken the time to help other people is good in my books.
5. What has been the hardest part and the best parts about lockdown?
The hardest part is probably the mental gymnastics to move my business from one place to another in a very short amount of time. Layered with the fact I am an over thinker I have a tendency to stay in my head.
The best part is I have had to travel less. I love being at the live events, but I don’t like the travel or being away from my wife and my dog, so it’s been great to spend more time with them. I’ve started to learn the piano and do some DIY! I wouldn’t have time to do this if I was in busy mode. The other hardest part is exercise. I go to a brilliant boot camp and I miss it dearly! We’ve been doing them online but it’s not the same.
6. How do you find inspiration and manage to keep working in this environment?
I think there is a lot of necessity. I must keep working. The business would die if I didn’t keep working as I am the founder of the businesses. But I love what I do. I love helping people and feeling like I am making a difference. I am driven by a bigger life purpose of a leaving a legacy of kindness and I believe that the Marketing Meet Up is helping people to think of others, and for that reason, I feel like we are doing a good job. Motivation has never been a big problem.
7. There has been talk of massive changes to how we live our lives and how we work due to the lessons learnt from the Coronavirus – do you think this is true?
In a webinar we held with Mark Ritson he suggested we will all return to a similar version of life that we had before, and largely I agree with him. I think we are great as human beings of adapting to the situations we find ourselves in and if we can return to “normal” I think we will do.
8. What one thing do you hope will continue post lock down?
Playing the piano, spending time with my wife and my dog. Appreciating the small things, less commercialism and being better for the environment.
9. Have you learnt anything about yourself during lock down that you didn’t know before?
I’ve allowed myself a moment of feeling proud of what we have achieved with the Marketing Meet Up – which I don’t often do. People have said that the MMU has helped to inspire and educate them as well as meet new people and that’s wonderful. So I have learnt that I need to allow myself a few more moment of pride, because what we are doing is good.