Need mature marketing nearby? 


What must you have been doing in lockdown to be auto served an ad like that?

And, yet, if we could get a similar message to every brand or business

  • leader
  • developer
  • owner
  • manager

in Torbay, in Devon, in the South West of England, in the whole of the UK RIGHT NOW, we would.

Not because it’s what they’re looking for.

Not because, as a marketing agency, it’s what we do. 

Definitely not because we’re perverts (we aren’t FYI).

Simply because it’s what’s needed.

Marketing in Torbay – Old Normal

There have been significant local economic downturns before, but not like this.

The words "shift happens" are spelled out in Scrabble pieces. This implies a change in markets requires a change in marketing.
Don’t scrabble to keep up. Market to keep ahead!

In March alone, an estimated £20 million was lost in visitor spending on the English Riviera as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Across Devon, it’s been estimated that the pandemic could place up to 123,000 jobs at risk.

Approx 12,000 of those jobs could be lost just in Torbay. 

Samantha Richardson, director of the National Coastal Tourism Academy, puts it even more bleakly. 

She estimates that it could take coastal resorts like Torbay at least three years to recover to pre-COVID-19 levels.

Let’s be frank, pre-COVID-19 levels were hardly aspirational.

And never mind March, it’s now June and “Unlockdown” has barely begun.

So, what’s the plan?

Well, it depends. 

Never run for the marketing scissors

Neon sign that says "This is the sign you've been looking for". Implying marketing change this way.
When markets change, change your marketing

What naturally happens in a recession stroke downturn stroke global economic earthquake is that businesses cut costs. 

Which is: √ Totally understandableSensible business practice 

And one of the very first costs that businesses cut? Marketing.

Which is: × Totally incomprehensible × Taking leave of your business senses

Why do we say that? 

Simple. Because it’s our job (literally). 

And also because research shows (repeatedly) that it’s the companies that maintain or increase their marketing efforts in a downturn, that are quickest to return to growth and profitability when any upturn occurs

Don’t just take our word for it, here’s what the Harvard Business Review has to say on the matter.

Companies that put customer needs under the microscope, take a scalpel rather than a cleaver to the marketing budget, and nimbly adjust strategies, tactics, and product offerings in response to shifting demand are more likely than others to flourish both during and after a recession.

And this, from a recent review conducted by BI Norwegian Business School

Firms often cut their marketing budgets in economically difficult times, while research shows that these periods provide great opportunities for strengthening your position by going against the tide.

So, if all that’s true, why do businesses still reach for the scissors labelled “Marketing Dept” when the economy crashes?

Marketing misunderstood

There are several reasons.

Somebody in a park lying down and reading a book called "Understanding Digital Marketing." Learning what marketing is about.
Lockdown Marketing Unlocked

Firstly, the value of marketing is difficult to quantify even when you understand it.

Marketing’s return on investment (ROI) can be tricky to measure, difficult to explain and tedious to wait for. 

Secondly, businesses commonly treat marketing/advertising as a cost rather than an investment.

As spending/investment horizons shrink during a recession, companies prioritise and look for short-term cuts/fixes; there are interested parties to please and hungry mouths to feed.

Lastly, businesses follow the herd.

It’s basic safety in numbers. If your competitors are cutting back, it’s only natural to think you can too and without losing market share or share of voice.

And there it is right there! 

The key. The answer.

The TOP SECRET business solution to weathering a downturn.


No, let’s not Ssshhhh! 

Let’s SHOUT those secret words out loud.


A marketing megaphone dangling on a change dividing two worlds made of graffiti.
Unchain your voice

Share of voice (SOV) is the share of exposure your brand gets, or how much of the market your brand owns, relative to your competitors.

Your business, depending on its size, will have a market share and a brand voice. 

That share may be tiny or huge. Your voice may be quiet or deafening.

For some businesses, this might mean quiet interaction with just the local neighbourhood.  

For others, it might mean BELLOWING ACROSS THE ENTIRE GLOBE.

So how does this help you?

Well, if all of your competitors are cutting back on advertising/marketing at the same time (reducing brand visibility), it leaves a gap in the market. 

Less advertising means reduced market noise. 

Which means if you maintain or invest in making noise when your competitors aren’t, you have an opportunity to increase your share of voice relative to theirs.

Put simply, it allows your business to be heard above your competitors. 


In a downturn, keep yourself in front of your customer to keep yourself in front of your competition.

That’s what all the research says.

It’s a bold move to speak when everybody’s quiet. But it’s a smart move when everybody’s listening. 

That’s what we say.

A single sheep standing while the rest of the herd lies down. The single sheep has the word rebel across its eyes in dymo lettering.
Listen up Sheeple

Admittedly, this is more than just a business downturn.

In flattening the curve, we’re in danger of flat-lining the economy.

But, investing in your share of voice right now could help mitigate some of the worst short and long-term economic effects. 

Plus, there’s another reason why now might be the perfect time to put away your marketing shears.

Share of voice used to mean share of traditional paid advertising.

Today, however, it includes SEO, social media and other elements of digital marketing and advertising. 

And, right now, prices for online and traditional channel advertising are lower than they’ve been for years

As markets slowly unlock (which they’re beginning to do), those discounted prices will inevitably increase (which they are).

This means that, at the moment, cost-effective marketing solutions could be within reach of even the smallest businesses.

But for how long?

It also suggests that opportunities for inexpensive gains in sales, growth and profitability might be out there too, at a fraction of the normal cost. 

Opportunities such as:

  • Gaining market share/share of voice 
  • Reinforcing customer bases
  • Expanding brand awareness
  • Giving off a positive perception of strength to nervous consumers
  • Positioning yourself carefully for growth opportunities

But again, for how long?

Intrepid businesses who have the foresight to take calculated risks have the potential to win big. 

Companies who treat marketing as an expense rather than an investment have the potential to lose big. 

Mature. Marketers. Nearby?

So, marketing in Torbay during a global pandemic. 

An industry that almost always suffers first, in an area almost exclusively dependent on tourism, at a time when almost no visitors are allowed. Great!

The wrong job in the wrong place at possibly the worst time in economic history.

Or is it? 

Juxtaposed pictures of Famous Rebel Colin and Famous Rebel Caroline with the word rebel dymo'd over their eyes.
Rebellious times need Famous Rebels

What we’ve learned in 25 years in the marketing industry, through good times and bad, is this. 

  • Expertise matters.
  • Experience matters.
  • Reputation matters. 
  • Nearby doesn’t.

As we argued in our blog “Playdreaming”, cost-effective, quality work can now be produced from anywhere. 

Lockdown has only confirmed what we Famous Rebels have known and have been practising for decades.

The Bay is our home. The world is our workplace.

And now a pandemic has hit pause on all our plans. 

You might be thinking/hoping that once the pause button has been sufficiently virus-proofed you can “unpause” and life will continue as normal.

Good luck with that. 

Breaking News: Normality is done. Pause was a reset button. 

And it’s not likely to be “Business as Usual”, more like “OMG…Business is Unusual”.

Until then, you, we, all of us have a decision to make. 

Hold our nerve and hope to profit from our past?

Or leap, and boldly market to the future?

Stay, K?

Carolyn Custerson, CEO of the English Riviera BID Company which oversees Torbay’s tourism, recently pledged for that future.

We will come back from this. At the end of all this, there will be the biggest demand for staycations we have ever seen. We are superbly placed here in South Devon, but there will be some casualties along the way.

She’s right, of course. We will bounce back. And, sadly, there will be casualties. Have no doubt, these are dark days for Torbay.

A heart drawn in the sand on a beach in Torbay. A wave washes over half of it. Caption reads "Home Sapiens...Home"
Home SapiensHome

But, remember this too. 

We have a lot going for us. 

This is the UK – a fundamental pillar of an essential global economy.

This is the South West of England – the largest region by area in England. Home to 5 million people.

This is Devon – a historic county of outstanding natural beauty and diversity.

This is Torbay – a triumvirate of picture-postcard towns. A maritime marriage of the traditional and modern.

This is the English Riviera – a world heritage site. An international Geopark. One of the UK’s leading tourist destinations. And one of the most attractive places on the planet.

Downturns, recessions, global pandemics may come and go, but one thing’s for certain, Torbay, the English Riviera, is an immensely attractive, eternally engaging product. Nature does our advertising, marketing just lends a hand.

So, yes, the future might look bleak right now, but we’re optimists. And we strongly believe you should be too. Why?

Because this is where the first modern tourists holidayed 45,000 years ago

Because this is where, of the 4 species of human that have ever been found in the British Isles, 3 of them lived

And because this is where, out of unexplored continents of potential space and abundantly fertile land, modern humanity chose to SETTLE and PROSPER and GROW.

So, Torbay, we will come back from this.

Not because we have to.

But because as forward-looking, future-grappling, modern marketing humans, we never really left.

#findmaturemarketersnearby #shareyourvoice #homesapiens

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