The Room Fell Silent As The Announcer Tore Open The Envelope…

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“And this year’s winner of the 2021, NZ Franchise of the year goes to…” 

It may be a distant and unrealistic dream right now, but when COVID-19 ends, a handful of franchises will thrive in the new economic conditions.

And it will have nothing to do with government grants, bank loans, their market share, or the industry they operate in.

Yet it will be these franchises that collect all the rewards and accolades when award night rolls around again – while their competitors are paralyzed, unsure what to do.

So, what will separate the winners from the losers?

How will they grow their franchises – and leads for their franchisees, during the economic turmoil that is ahead?

The answer lies in the years gone by. Specifically, the actions that successful businesses took during prior recessions and times of chaos.

Learning From Past Economic Disasters

(S&P 500 by recession – link attribution –

In 1931, the great depression levelled the world economy. Millions lost their jobs, interest rates skyrocketed and food lines stretched as far as the eye could see.

But from the smouldering ashes rose HP and Disney – companies that are worth billions today and employ thousands of workers.

After WW2, Christian DiorDr. MartensRod & Gunn and H&M were established. Today, these brands are worth a combined market value of over $258 B.

The losses after the 1987 crash were estimated to be around $1.7 trillion. That’s the same GDP value of New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa, Qatar, Hong Kong, Israel and Singapore combined; in today’s money.

Yet, during this time, AT&T Wireless Services, China CITIC Bank and Ted Baker were born.

And the recent Global Financial Crisis (GFC) gave birth to Uber, Airbnb, WhatsApp, Groupon, Pinterest, Slack and Instagram.

So, what did all these successful companies have in common? And how did they grow, while their competitors drowned in the economic fallout?

Was it good luck?

Did they launch new products and services to starving markets?

In most cases, the answer is no. Many of the companies mentioned above entered competitive and saturated markets.

In 2010, a well-known Business University analyzed over 4,700 public companies before and after past recessions.

Harvard Researchers Surprised At Findings

Researchers at Harvard University conducted a yearlong project to analyze the strategy selection of 4,700 companies. They focused on the past three global recessions:

    1. The 1980 crisis (which lasted from 1980 to 1982)
    2. The 1990 slowdown (1990 to 1991), and
    3. The 2000 bust (2000 to 2002).

The researchers broke down data into three periods:

    1. The three years before a recession,
    2. The three years after, and
    3. The recession years themselves.

The results were startling.

17 percent of the companies didn’t survive the recession. 74 percent of the total survived, but never regained their pre-recession growth rates even three years after the recession.

Only 9 percent flourished, doing better than before the economic slowdown.

In fact, many of the winners (part of the 9 percent) outperformed industry rivals by at least 10 percent more sales and profit growth.

Which begs the question, who were the postrecession winners…

What Strategies Did They Deploy And
What Can We Learn From Them?

According to the research, companies that cut costs and invested to grow did well after a recession.

Within this group, a subset deployed a combination of defensive and offensive moves. This helped them to break away from the pack and thrive.

These companies reduced costs, focused on operational efficiency more than their rivals did, and invested in marketing, R&D, and new assets.

The Harvard researchers stated:

“One combination has the greatest likelihood of producing post-recession winners: the one pursued by progressive enterprises.
These companies’ defensive moves are selective. They cut costs mainly by improving operational efficiency rather than by slashing the number of employees relative to peers.
However, their offensive moves are comprehensive. They develop new business opportunities by making significantly greater investments than their rivals do in R&D and marketing, and they invest in assets such as plants and machinery.
Their post-recession growth in sales and earnings is the best among the groups in our study. It’s important to understand why the companies that use this combination do so well after a recession.”

For many business owners, spending more on advertising during a recession isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.

But the proof is in the numbers…

Where The Money Is Invested Matters Most

This may sound obvious, but many companies blow their funds on ineffective advertising channels.

But during the 2008 GFC, there was one advertising medium that grew exponentially… and that was digital.

(Image attribution –

It grew in New Zealand, in Australia and in international markets too.

(Image attribution –

Savvy operators invest in digital because it is measurable, targeted and highly effective – when done right.

And it’s one of the few advertising channels that will help scale your business during these challenging times.

Hi, I’m Brad Guthrie,Brad Guthrie

I’ve been a digital marketer for over 18 years and as you’d guess, I’ve seen a thing or two.

I worked at Google managing some of New Zealand’s largest online spenders…

I was the GM of an online tour company and grew its revenue from $3m to over $20M per annum in under 3 years…

I was the online sales manager at, which sold around 20m SKU’s and generated over $60m in annual revenue – 100 percent of it online.

Then, in 2013, I was head-hunted by Google NZ’s largest online spender (Online Republic), to start a marketing agency.

Online Republic Is A Travel Aggregator That Spent Over $12m A Year On Online Advertising…

It grew from operating one website in 2004 to over 3,500 a few years later. At its peak, Online Republic generated more than $300m in annual revenue – 95% of it online.

Obviously, this was before COVID-19 hit. But, my point is, I didn’t get my experience by reading online blogs or watching YouTube in my bedroom.

I got it by spending millions online, generating profitable, sustainable growth across multiple industries.

I’m now the General Manager of Search Republic, a boutique digital agency located on Auckland’s waterfront.

(Our office in North Wharf, central Auckland – Image attribution –

And although we’re still part of Online Republic and advise them on digital marketing, 98.9% of our business comes from servicing other companies.

Many of our clients are well-known brands, such as Air NZ, Trustpower, ASB, John Deere, and more Kiwi and international brands.

But what many people don’t know is…

We Specialise In Helping Franchises
Scale, Using Digital Advertising

In fact, we’ve already helped several well-known NZ franchises grow out of their skin in a short space of time – Plumbing Plus and Traffic.

“We’re pretty happy with what we’ve achieved, but here’s what Jeremy from Plumbing Plus had to say…
We have been working with Search Republic for the past 4 years, they have run our Paid Digital media programme (Search Marketing and Display) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Right off that bat, they made some quick wins with our organic website rankings.
Over the years they have managed to push us up the organic rankings for our main key terms such as “bathroom supplies”, “baths”, “toilets nz”.
We also give a very solid return on investment from our Google Ads, Google Shopping Ads and display banner ads. They are always very open with information and reporting plus they are great guys to work with.
I can’t rate the team at Search Republic highly enough.”



Jeremy G Britton
Operations Manager
Plumbing Plus

And Gareth from Traffic…

“We partnered with Search Republic on the management of our paid online advertising campaigns, which has been a very good move for our business!
After demonstrating their ability-breaking lead generation records month after month bringing in business to our existing franchise owners, we then also moved our PPC franchise lead generation activities to them too!
Their skills and wizardry in the paid online advertising space has done wonders contributing to the growth of our business globally”



Gareth Poley
Digital Director

Seasoned Marketers Who Spend Their
Own Money To Get Results

When we ask clients why they decided to partner with us, the answer is always the same:

“Because you spend your own money, and you have hands-on experience in growing companies internationally.”

Now, if you run a franchise company, you’re probably contemplating one of three things right now…

    1. I already have an in-house digital marketing team and I think they’re doing an okay job, so I don’t need any help. 
    2. I already employ an agency and I can’t be bothered moving, or
    3. I’m not sure spending on digital marketing will help my business grow right now…

So, we thought we’d put our money where our mouth is, and make NZ Franchise members a very unique offer.

And that’s a review of your paid search and SEO activity. The report takes around two weeks and includes an easy-to-read report.

Within the report, we provide quick wins you can implement immediately (if you have skilled staff to do so), screenshots and best-practice examples.

We’ve developed a reliable process for running profitable online campaigns, and we’ll use it to review your account.

However, we can’t offer this to everyone. If you operate in an existing client’s industry, we can’t help you.

But, if you’re serious about outgrowing your competitors post COVID-19, give me a call on 027 670 0228 or use the form below.

We’ll line up a time to have a quick chat, then we can decide on how best to progress with your free audits.

Now, you probably have some questions, so let me go ahead and answer them below.

Frequently Asked Questions

“If you’re so good, why are you offering your services for free?”

Sales acquisition, plain and simple. Not everyone has the internal talent, time or desire to do it themselves. And the hope is, you’ll ask us for help.

“How good will the audits really be?”

It’s our reputation at stake, so we’re not creating automated reports. We actually dig deep and analyse the data. The audits will provide solid recommendations that you can implement immediately to get results fast.

“What’s the catch? Nothing is for free…”

Correct, nothing is free. This is a sales acquisition strategy for us. We could spend thousands on buying media and hope a prospect becomes a client. But, we feel this is a better way to gain exposure, build trust and prove value within the market.

So, it’s not free. Because it costs us time and effort.  But we’ll pick up that cost and chalk it up as marketing expense.

“What if I don’t have a team to implement your changes?”

That’s the plan. If you’re in this situation, we hope you engage us to help grow your business.

If you have any other questions for us to answer, give me a call on 027 670 0228 or complete the form below. I’m looking forward to learning more about our business.

Contact Me Using The Form Below

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About us and this blog

We are a digital marketing company with a focus on helping our customers achieve great results across several key areas.

Request a free quote

We offer professional SEO services that help websites increase their organic search score drastically in order to compete for the highest rankings even when it comes to highly competitive keywords.



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