top of page

Lessons from a small Scottish business on adapting during covid-19

The covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown have affected small businesses in many ways. If you’re reading this and your business has been affected, you’re now alone. We hear a lot about “pivoting” and “the new normal”. With business as usual being disrupted, it’s essential that you adapt your marketing strategy too.

One small Scottish business has caught my eye in the way that it has pivoted and adapted its marketing. Scapa Fest’s marketing has turned my head since the pandemic has started and I couldn’t resist reaching out to their CEO, Clemence Cocquet, to find out about her journey and share it with you.

Scapa Fest is a solar-powered, leave-no-trace and zero-waste yoga, adventure and sustainable living experience. It’s designed to help people harness the power of nature to transform their physical health and the health of their environment. The festival brings together global experts in mind-body health, outdoor education and environmental action to deliver immersive sessions to families and individuals who attend from all over the world.

Clemence calls Scapa Fest “much more than an event”.

“It’s a whole new way of living. A sustainable, regenerative way of being in the world, of the world and for the world.”


Creating real value through marketing 

Clemence’s business has been hit hard by the covid-19 crisis. She tells us about how Scapa Fest was affected. 

“We’ve had to postpone our annual event to a provisional date in September, freezing all our ticket sales until the restrictions on mass gatherings are lifted. Potentially, it means the loss of an entire year revenue for us.” 

But Clemence didn’t let that stop her in her tracks. She knows how important it is to keep her current community and potential customers engaged. She explains how she and her team approached marketing since then.

“We immediately stopped promoting this year’s programme and in the first few weeks concentrated on communicating extra clear information about our decision making regarding the postponement of the festival. Reassuring our audience that their safety came first was the key message. 

We then worked internally to redefine the values of our business under the new circumstances. If we can’t gather as a festival, then what are we? Thankfully, Scapa Fest was never just an event. It was initially built as a community around sustainable living, and became a festival almost by accident. We produced a short film to remind ourselves of our core - a community learning from each other.

We also produced a 58-page Resilience Kit that the public could download for free, to help them navigate the «new normal ». It features a month-long schedule to help people get into a rythme, recipes, mediation techniques to alleviate anxieties related to the uncertainty of it.” 

Some of the words that resonate with me are “reassurance” and “clear information”. It’s essential that your marketing provided both. 

Being clear on your core value as a business is also really important as it’ll help define what you’re sharing with your audience and what value you can bring them. Adding value is key. Scapa Fest did this really well with the “Resilience Kit’ e-book. It offers practical solutions that are really suited to the current situation. 


A real shift in business offering 

But Clemence didn’t stop at adapting her marketing and the kind of content she’s been creating. She decided to go the extra mile. She tells us how.

“We created a donation-based virtual event taking place over 1 week and ending on the weekend Scapa Fest should have taken place: Scapa House Fest, Sustainable Living in action #athome. Scapa Life anywhere, everywhere.” 

Creating an online event is a great shift in terms of business offering. In addition to keeping the business visible and going, it’s also offering people something to do at home and something to get excited about. This is invaluable during the lockdown. Key to all business and marketing success is to help your customers fulfill a need/want. Remember to take time to figure out what your customers need now. It might well have changed from what they needed before the lockdown. 

It’s obvious a lot of thought went into the way Scapa Fest shifted its business proposition and marketing. Here’s what Clemence says about it: 

“The shift wasn’t hard in the sense that deep down we knew exactly how to respond. But it required a few days of round-the-clock to deliver it at the right time.” 

Through all of this work, Clemence always kept her audience in mind. Let’s look at how they’ve reacted to the changes. Clemence explains: 

“They’ve reacted extremely well. It says a lot about the mindset of our community, their adaptability to change, their resilience.” 


Tips on how to manage the changes 

Finally, Clemence shares some great advice for other small businesses out there. 

“First, and more than ever,  DO examine why you are in business. As business is essentially being at the service of people - why do you do what you do? What are your core values and how are they expressed beyond what you sell? Think about how else the problems that you solve in normal times can be solved.” 

“Second, DON’T pretend things are normal or expect that they are going to go back to what they were. Your marketing strategy was based on circumstances that are no longer there and will not return. Now is the time to review internal systems and processes to reflect the changes our society is going through. Design a strong value-driven marketing strategy based on your findings. 

BE creative and go outside the box AND the extra mile in your creativity. 

DO make it personal, especially on social media. Show your face. Be transparent. We are ALL living a time of anxiety, fear and unknown.” 

If you’ve been struggling to shift your marketing to the “new normal”, it’s not too late. This is a time for being present for your audience and give them real value. Here are a few ideas of what kind of content to post during the covid-19 crisis and why you should keep your marketing going even when people aren’t ready to buy. 

And a big thanks to Clemence Cocquet for sharing her learning with us.


bottom of page