The economy is struggling under the weight of lockdown and the pandemic. This isn't just a problem for politicians and Westminster to solve. In fact, businesses have their own role to play in supporting the small-and-medium-sized businesses up and down the country, says Andreas Emmanuel.

There aren't many British businesses that have come out of the past year unscathed. The economy is in tatters, with many companies forced to permanently close their doors, but one entrepreneur says that firms in his industry simply aren't doing enough to help UK businesses.

Andreas Emmanuel is the founder and Managing Director of Emmanuel Marketing, a boutique marketing agency specifically tailored to servicing SMEs. Since restructuring its service proposition at the beginning of the pandemic to adapt to the economic downturn, his company has gone from strength to strength. This is due, in no small part, to recognising that many British businesses simply could not afford the normal rates of most marketing agencies. We caught up with Andreas to talk about his business, and why he believes other firms in his industry could be doing more to help our economic recovery.

Comment Central: Why do you think the economy needs more support right now?

Andreas: We are living through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. No matter what side of the political spectrum you fall on, it's hard to argue that the economy doesn't need support. Once the support schemes end, we could see record unemployment levels and business closures. I've seen it personally from the companies we work with, many of which are struggling to even keep their doors open, never mind having space in their budget for marketing.

Comment Central: How do you think the economy will change in the next year?

Andreas: More than anything I'm optimistic. The apparent success of the vaccine rollout has given serious cause for hope and come July I think we will be at least mostly back to normal. UK consumers have saved up huge amounts of money over the last 12 months, so they'll be prepared to spend big once they're able. Even if I'm not confident the economy will be fully healed in a year's time, I still think we're due a major recovery.

Comment Central: How have you noticed firms adapting to lockdown?

Andreas: The virtual shift over the past year has left a lot of firms scrambling to adapt. I've always preached that nowadays a marketing strategy should begin online, so our clients haven't been caught high and dry like some others. I think some companies have now realised what the virtual world is capable of. An example is the innovation we have seen in virtual events, which look like they could be here to stay after the pandemic. Even physical mailouts have become more prevalent with more people staying at home. The key thing now is just to be prepared for whatever the markets throw at you.

Comment Central: What drove you to establish your own business?

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Andreas: I always pride myself on being able to spot trends in the market. Over the past year, millions of UK businesses have been backed up against the ropes. Whether it's from lack of footfall or simply wariness to get rid of disposable income, the money from consumers just isn't there like it was before. I saw an opportunity, both to help these struggling firms and to grow our share of the market. That's why we now offer a full suite of marketing services specifically designed to help these small firms that form the backbone of the British economy.

Comment Central: What experience did you bring to the table?

Andreas: I have over 10 years' experience working with brands of varying sizes. I cut my teeth at the marketing department of Unilever, where I had a hand in marketing everything from deodorant to dish soap. Since then, I've worked with every type of brand you can imagine in varying capacities, whether that is as a marketing manager or in a consultancy role. My favourite types of brands to work with have always been new, emergent businesses in the market. Every company has a story to tell, but the most exciting ones are innovative and really disrupt their sector.

Comment Central: You've said in the past that you don't think other marketing firms do enough to help the economy, could you tell us more about that?

Andreas: It's common in the industry for agencies to want to work with the biggest brands on the planet. And it's no wonder, considering the monumental marketing budgets that these companies have. However, up and down Britain there are countless companies doing interesting, exciting work that are left by the wayside and often overlooked by larger agencies, who simply don't see them as viable clients financially. That's what we are trying to change at Emmanuel Marketing.

Comment Central: What do you hope to see more of in the industry?

Andreas: We want the big players in marketing to start batting for British brands again. We want to prove that you can still grow while also helping local economies and allowing UK companies to tell their stories. The pandemic has hit these businesses hard, and it's in everyone's best interests to help them get back on their feet.

Comment Central: How is your firm different from other firms?

Andreas: Unlike other agencies, we are a team of contractors who come together to work on various projects. This means we can do much more in-house than other companies our size. Having graphic design, content writing, videography and social media specialists all under one roof is a benefit we certainly don't take for granted. That's without even mentioning that we are built solely with SMEs in mind. I can say with confidence that our team understands the marketing needs of these small firms more than any other agency in the country.

Comment Central: What's the best part of your job?

Andreas: "My favourite thing has always been working with new brands and trying to find compelling ways to show their work. Many SMEs in the UK are just as innovative as companies abroad, but they usually don't have the budget to show it in the same as a huge, multinational firm. Being able to find creative new ways to help these brands is definitely rewarding."

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