Heading into 2021 with Better Than 20/20 Vision
Things to Consider for Your 2021 Marketing Plan
By Steph Mazanowski
No matter how much we all planned and thought we were ready for 2020, none of us were ready for what would unfold as the most unclear year of our business lives. As 2020 approaches its end (thank goodness) and planning for 2021 begins, marketing will play a bigger role for small businesses than it has in recent years.
Key things to keep in mind while you are planning: DO IT, CONTENT, LOCAL, COMMUNITY, NETWORKING, MULTI-MEDIA MIX, REPETITION, and TARGETING.
First things first, advertising is a MUST HAVE in your 2021 budget. Cutting back is not an option, in fact, now is actually the time to consider throwing a little more than previous years into marketing. For many, 2020 was a year of RE-ACTION instead of PRO-ACTION. Being reactive puts you steps behind your competition and can lead to loss in market share. 2021 is a time to be proactive and a window of opportunity to gain market share from competitors who may be sitting this year out or cutting back on their ad spend.
Out of sight, out of mind. If consumers are not reminded that you are an option, they will choose someone else. It is natural, human reaction to gravitate towards things that are familiar to us. You have a product or service that people need or want. The more you put your business out there as a choice the more recognizable it will be. Marketing lets people know it’s available to them as a choice.
The word choice is important. Consumers do not want to be “sold to,” but rather they want to “choose to buy from you.” This is important to understand because the days of “one and done” campaigns, trying to entice the consumer to “buy now” are moving more towards longer-term branding campaigns. Consumers want to take their time. They want to have options and information to compare and help them come up with an educated buying decision that will ultimately happen when they decide they are ready to buy.
This makes content marketing a vital component to your 2021 marketing plan. People do business with people they know, like and trust. With these three things being key to the buying process, content marketing is the most effective way to help you achieve this. Look for opportunities to be an expert contributor in a local publication and/or create blogs and vlogs. These give you a voice and let you educate your audience. Hearing from you often begins to create a trust that you know what you are talking about, and ultimately further solidifies you are the go-to business in your industry.
The more you can align your business with “local” and “community” this upcoming year, the better. The pandemic has created a shift towards emotional buying. Consumers are powered by emotions and experiences more than ever and many consumers are standing up for their local businesses. Aligning your business with the community and/or charity will associate you with “good,” and that’s what consumers want to see... businesses and people coming together for the good of the community. Companies that have a passion for making a positive difference in the community, a genuine social mission, these are the companies that will get ahead in 2021.
2021 is a great year to look at making valuable partnerships with like-minded businesses. Networking helps with this. As soon as we can get back to in-person mingling, find a networking group that fits with your personality and business ethics. Get to know other business owners, do one-on-ones with others that may be a good referral source for you. Many will even become your clients and will be trusted individuals to help you spread positive reviews.
When it comes to exactly which form of media is the best place to put your marketing dollars. It is hard to give that advice without a conversation with each individual business owner… which I am happy to do. There are so many ways to market these days and you should understand that no ONE form of advertising is responsible for causing a consumer to buy. So stop right there! Stop worrying about tracking. The days of tracking what method of advertising brought consumers to you are over. Sure you can get some analytics from digital and ask all you want, but you will drive yourself crazy. You should know, that ultimately, it is everything you do, working in conjunction, creating brand recognition and awareness that eventually causes the consumer to act. Therefore, it is just important to have a good marketing mix.
Also, repetition and duration are key. If you have ever felt like your “one and done” ad campaign was a waste of money, you are onto something. The magic number is seven. Studies show that people need to see something at least seven times before it starts to sink in. We learn by repetition, marketing is no different. Similarly, your campaign needs time to take hold. If you have ever spent one or two months trying to drive home a message and then give up because you haven’t seen results, try giving it 7-12 months, over and over and over again. Trust me, it will take hold. It’s kind of like going to the gym. If you stop going just when you start to see results, everything you have worked toward the past two months is lost… same with marketing.
Remember, one method does not necessarily fit all. Each business’s target market may be different. Where to reach those target markets may be different. Not all target markets use the same means of media.
What sets you apart? How will you stand out?
Who is your target market?
Where are they?
What ways can you reach them there?
At least for this first part of the year, consumers are AT HOME. How can you reach them there?
No one can deny that social media is a great way to reach consumers at home, however simply posting every day may not be enough. With the way Facebook parameters are set up, half of the time no one sees your business posts until it starts getting shared by friends and clients. You need your posts to be seen and shared to really gain traction.
Be careful not to throw your entire marketing budget into social media because everyone is throwing dollars into this channel right now, it could get over saturated very quickly. The goal is to stand out, remember? Still, targeted online ad space such as Facebook sponsored ads and Google ad placement are good investments for part of your 2021 mix. You can geofence specific areas and really hone in on your target market.
Offline advertising should not be forgotten. Look for ways to support the community. Sponsor when you can. Donate when you can. Look for positive, uplifting mediums that encourage a sense of community. Coming off and an election year and a pandemic year, consumers are tired of political, controversial and negative news. Be selective and look for feel-good places to drop those marketing dollars such as your local community magazines...and sports. As soon as the restrictions are lifted, sports are going to be a great place to advertise. There has been such a drought and fans are ready to fill the stands and bleachers again. Having it all taken away has created an itch. Get ready to support your local youth and collegiate sports teams!
One last thought to help you have a successful 2021, give your website a quick review to make sure it is functioning and up-to-date and that it is mobile friendly. It is worth spending some of your marketing budget on SEO to ensure you have a good Google ranking. Same with Facebook. If your last post was from 2018, it’s time to look at making your Facebook page a little more relevant! That and Google are where people are seeking information about your business hours, contact info, and reading reviews once they have seen you everywhere else!
The world has changed. Business won’t be the same. However, it’s not a bad thing. In fact, we already know the market will be more efficient and people will be more productive. Business travel expense will go down because we will be able to meet with cross country business partners via zoom. And we now know working from home is possible and everyone is equipped.
With all of this, businesses will end up with a higher cash flow and ultimately will be better off than before.