#1 Focus on what you CAN do
If your business has had to close or restrict its activities due to COVID-19, then we urge you to think about what you can do instead. Many companies have had to adapt to a changing and unpredictable environment; restaurants have had to turn to deliveries, bricks and mortar stores have transitioned to eCommerce. Consider how you could leverage digital to enhance your offering and make it more available, or how you can adapt your product or service to meet a different market.
- Can you take your business online?
- Can you adapt your business to work inside the current restrictions, even if that means (dare we say it) pivoting your offering?
- If you can’t adapt your business now, what can you do to boost your chances of success when things start to return to normal?
- Can you think of new ways to build loyalty and encourage repeat business with your existing customers?
- Is there a new market you could target with the above if your current market isn’t as susceptible to your new ideas?
In 2020, we helped one of our clients achieve precisely this. DLT Media offer magazine subscriptions to a wide range of clients. At the start of 2020, their business was B2B-focused and was impacted by COVID, so they needed to look for new ways to generate revenue. Over the course of the year, we supported them as they launched a B2C digital magazine subscription service, My Magazine Box. And then later in the year their new and improved, fully-digital B2B offering, Digi-Mags – two great examples of how a business can use digital to adapt to challenging and changing trading conditions.
#2 Reflect on what worked and what didn’t in 2020
In one way or another, 2020 will probably have thrown some challenges your way when it comes to your business. Take some time to reflect on what hurdles you and your team faced, how you overcame them, what you could have done differently and what internal weaknesses you identified as a result. These insights will help you better prepare for your approach to 2021, which we talk more about in point three.
It’s also important to remember to celebrate your achievements in 2020. Use these to motivate and inspire your team for the next 12 months – a positive outlook is the first step to success for your team.
#3 Don’t forget risk and contingency planning
When pulling together your strategy for the upcoming year, you’re going to need to take a step back from 2020. Analyse what you did well and what you didn’t (see point two) before doing your own internal and external research to determine your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Once you’ve evaluated each of these areas, you can use your data to decide which opportunities you’re going to go after or which weaknesses you need to mitigate to achieve your objectives for the year. It’s also important to remember this stage is never set in stone, as 2021 may throw a curveball or two your way, so don’t forget to be agile and be prepared to keep revisiting your plans.
Once you’ve chosen your strategy for 2021, don’t forget to think about the risks and contingency planning stage. This is where you consider all the factors that could threaten your strategy’s success and potential ways of overcoming them. This is a crucial stage because it enables you to see where things might go wrong and ensure you’re tracking the right areas. It also gives you clarity when risks do arise, instead of making rash decisions that could lead to long-term failings.
#4 Educate your customers
Content marketing plays a vital role in a customer’s purchasing journey, and we’ve been preaching for some time that if you’ve not already transitioned to this inbound marketing approach, then you should.
In 2021, content is even more vital as you replace face-to-face communications with valuable content to assist with purchasing decisions. Consumers don’t want to be sold to, they want to educate themselves; with most potential customers being 70-80% of the way through the purchasing process before they make an enquiry. This means that content plays a huge role in the build-up to potential customers getting in contact with you and the decisions they’re making, with blogs, eBooks, videos, whitepapers, and user-generated content leveraged to strengthen and support their decisions.
You must consider how you can produce and publish useful, relevant content that will sell your offering to your customers while providing them with the trust signals they need to fuel consumer confidence and encourage them to inquire or make a purchase.
#5 Marketing doesn’t have to cost a fortune
At the start of 2020, we released a blog which listed some free and almost free ways to market your business. We thought now would be a good time to revisit these methods and incentivise the idea that marketing doesn’t have to cost a fortune. We’ve also listed a few other things you can do to get some additional exposure for your business that doesn’t have to break the bank:
- Create a Google My Business profile
- Build or commission a new website
- Research and prioritise social platforms that your audience use
- Join and/or create online communities to educate and spread awareness
- Attend, host and sponsor online events
- Create content (blogs, videos, eBooks etc.)
- Collect testimonials from clients
- Segment your audience and send regular, relevant email blasts
- Implement SEO best practice to boost your search engine rankings
- Consider investing in PPC to support your SEO strategy
- Create an internal marketing strategy to achieve buy-in from your team and boost motivation
The biggest thing to keep in mind is that this year will be different from last year. Try not to let 2020 bring you down. Instead, use your experiences to increase productivity in 2021 and drive your team into a more successful year.