2020 is a year few will forget – though many of us may like to!
However, despite the ordinarily massive positives of the Brexit deal and the rolling out of the coronavirus vaccines, 2021 has begun with a whimper rather than a bang.
Whilst another UK-wide lockdown is a bitter blow, it may also mark the beginning of the end, after which we can begin to put coronavirus behind us.
If the brief respite from the most stringent measures in summer 2020 demonstrated anything, it is that consumer and business demand may have been largely stored up, rather than diminished.
Though some businesses still flourished in 2020 – many have stagnated or worse. Regardless, most have a similar attitude towards 2021 as the year to regroup and regain…
What will grow your business in 2021?
It’s fair to say the success businesses experience in 2021 may be closely correlated to the economy. If consumers gain confidence – and the stats start to look rosy – many businesses may feel the benefits.
However, this leaves much to chance and the risk is that your better prepared competitors could steal a march – and market share.
So, many businesses will be looking for ways to proactively grab more clients and more customer share. That means marketing.
Marketing is more than just promotion or adertising alone. Success for some may come from enhancing what they do or how they do it.
However, for many, the route to success will be through straight forward marketing – making more potential clients aware of what they do so they become the business they choose.
What marketing will work and what won’t?
This is an age-old question with an age-old answer – it depends.
Particularly in business-to-business marketing, the more targeted the marketing method, the higher the likelihood of success. If your potential clients are easy to identify, the marketing methods most likely to generate a strong return are those which are most likely to reach them.
Broadcasting your message through wide advertising or mass-marketing opportunities may be appealing – and can cost relatively little with marketing tools like social media – but it leaves a lot to chance.
There are broadly two types of marketing – push and pull – and its often best to consider which is more likely to generate results at the pace you need.
Pull marketing is focused on those already looking for what you make or provide. If there are people or businesses actively looking to buy what you deliver, investing in pull marketing may be the best investment.
Increasingly, this means ensuring your business appears where people are looking – the internet!
Digital marketing like web development, SEO, PPC (Pay-Per-Click) and paid social media may be your best investment for a successful 2021 – particularly if you want to grab more of a diminished market.
If it’s harder to identify buying customers – or they are less likely to look for what you deliver – then Push marketing is likely to create more results and a better return-on-investment.
Push marketing is all about making people stop and take notice. They may not yet know that they need what you deliver. They may not even know such a solution exists. They may be reluctant to stray from their current supplier.
Push marketing relies upon marketing channels which reach out to your potential customer. These might include PR, email, social media, direct mail, relationship building, advertising or telesales.
Keep your message simple
Particularly in times of downturn, the temptation is to advise potential customers of everything you do and everything which makes it great! However, this relies upon your target audience having the time and bandwidth to take it all in.
Instead, success is more likely to come if you get your business’s name out there with a simple and succinct message which is easy to remember.
As we all know, the best brand marketing messages are those that are short and consistent. Yours may not become as recognisable as ‘Just Do It’ – but you could become still become as identifiable within your sector as Nike is with encouraging people to be active!
An elevator pitch is always a good place to start. Many businesses struggle to define what they do when asked – or what sets them apart from others. So, take some time – and a sheet of paper – to jot down your ideas.
In the post-pandemic world, as businesses begin to gain confidence, having a strong and well-defined message can be the bedrock of your marketing.
When sales are low – or marketing is unfamiliar – one of the first impulses of businesses is to attempt to make a big noise with offers, discounts and other promotions.
This is certainly a tactic which can work – but there are caveats.
So-called Burst marketing works best for fast moving consumer goods – high volume, low cost and abundantly available. Promoting ice creams is easy in summer if they’re already popular and readily available to buy.
Burst marketing can also work in B2B – if what you sell is also a commodity or consumable. For example, printing, supplies or utilities.
However, for most B2B businesses, the starting point is somewhat different.
Businesses are more rational and less emotional than consumers. They often want to have a lasting relationship with their suppliers, based on trust. This means the buying decision can be slower and switching suppliers less likely.
Though lockdown 3 is a bitter pill, it seems likely the vaccination program will largely bring the pandemic to a conclusion. As such, this time can be well spent preparing for the eventual up-turn.
Rather than relying solely on a frenetic marketing campaign once restrictions end, it is typically more effective to ensure you’re the name that businesses will already turn to.
The steady drip, drip, drip of marketing – building towards the easing of restrictions – is likely to be far more persuasive to businesses themselves looking to buy the things they need for success.
Perhaps one of the strongest tactics is PR or public relations – nowadays better known as content marketing. By building an active profile on social media, gaining area or sector wide publicity or making early approaches to potential customers you can build up brand awareness, goodwill and potential sales much more effectively.
Businesses who sustain marketing during a significant downturn are 3 times more likely to survive and thrive.
What’s hot and what’s not in marketing in 2021?
So, what should you be spending your marketing budget on as the UK recovers from Covid-19?
Digital marketing has become more important than ever as people work from home. Though many may soon return to their office, their behaviour may not revert.
With less physical travel and networking, your business’s website will – more than ever – be the shop window of your business. A quick look around it with fresh eyes will help you decide whether it paints the right picture – or needs web development!
As most businesses will begin their search for product or services on Google or Bing, both Search Engine Optimisation and Pay-Per-click Advertising Like Google Ads) may be highly effective. Beware of false promises as SEO typically takes time to deliver results so begin the optimisation now. Look for an agency which is a Google Partner and can proactively manage a PPC campaign which targets your specific customers and the specific search terms they use.
As mentioned, social media remains an increasingly important tool for spreading the word about your business. LinkedIn is perhaps more than ever the most effective platform for businesses, though developing a following takes time – so start now. Read our recent blog for some hints and tips!
Content marketing is all about sharing interesting articles and demonstrating your expertise. The recipients will reward you by turning to you when they need what you deliver. With more businesses online and working remotely – social media, PR and content marketing are again more effective than ever.
If you struggle to communicate what you do or what makes it great, turn to a marketing agency with experience communicating niche or B2B products.
Finally, go direct to your customers. Pandemic or not, the best and strongest results will likely come from using direct marketing to put what you do in front of the decision makers that matter.
Whilst trade and networking events may be some time away – social media messaging, email marketing and the humble telephone still provide a way to connect. If you can specify your ideal customers, create a database of likely targets and a strategy to approach and convert them.
Those who make the right choices and persevere will reap the rewards in post-pandemic 2021!
Slow start, strong finish
2021 has begun with more disappointment as the UK enters lockdown. However, this time too will soon pass – and hopefully lead to a sustained recovery.
If your business has survived – and will once again be relevant to your customers – it’s never too early to prepare.
With good news potentially just weeks away, it’s important to plan now for better times. The businesses who make the most of 2021 will likely be those who recognise the recovery as an opportunity to outshine others.
If you need help to ensure your benefits as much as possible from the post-pandemic recovery, contact us for a chat.