No one was prepared for how disruptive this year has been. But whether you’re cautiously optimistic about 2021 or you’re hunkering down for another challenging year, there are some things you can have in mind now to ensure your marketing stays relevant and useful in the months ahead.
Churches may fully open again. They might stay online-only. The economy may recover—but it could take a while. Regardless of how the future impacts you and your customer base, marketing will be an essential part of your business.
Here are four tips for marketing in 2021.
1. Maintain brand awareness
Many organizations have found themselves in the difficult position of trying to engage people who simply aren’t in a position to buy or donate right now. Whatever the reason, it’s vital that your brand continues to stay top-of-mind in your product category.
When your audience’s circumstances change and they can afford your product or services again, you don’t want to be starting from square one. This isn’t the time to abandon your content marketing plans or reallocate your ad spend—but you may need to shift more of your focus to brand awareness.
2. Stay in-tune with your customers
Throughout 2020, some businesses have made big pivots to meet their customers’ evolving needs. They’ve launched new product lines, offered new services, and found creative ways to keep people engaged.
This can only happen when a brand understands its customers well and remains adaptable. In 2021, it’s going to be just as important for your organization to be in conversation with your customers and pay attention to how what’s happening in the world affects them.
As 2021 draws near, this is a good time to take inventory of things you’ve learned from your customers throughout the pandemic. It could be worth revisiting your customer journey maps and audience personas as well. (You may even want to make new ones.)
Thanks to social media, it’s easy for brands to start conversations, ask questions, and learn about the people they serve. You could launch a large-scale survey, or simply collect anecdotal data from Facebook, Instagram, or whatever platforms you’re using. Throughout the year, you’ll want to use your marketing channels to gain insight into what your customers are experiencing, what problems they’re focusing on, and what goals you can help them accomplish.
3. Create useful content
Smart, strategic content marketing uses free helpful stuff to build brand loyalty and position your business as an expert in your industry. Wherever your customers are financially, they’re still going to have many of the same problems and desires, and they’re looking for solutions online. Creating useful articles, videos, courses, webinars, and other resources teaches your audience to look to you for help. And if they find your free resources valuable, when they’re ready to pay for products or services, they’ll turn to you first.
4. Be responsive online
You don’t have to be on every social media platform out there. But you need to be sure that if you’re on a platform, people can count on you to have a presence there. If you take days to respond when someone reaches out to you, they’ve already moved on. And even if they haven’t moved on to a competitor, they’re going to be a lot less interested in doing business with you.
But being responsive isn’t just about replying quickly—it’s about serving people quickly. While your marketing team may be in charge of your Twitter handle or Instagram account, people expect to receive customer service when they reach out to you there. If you redirect them to another channel for help, you’re teaching them that they can’t use their preferred channel to communicate with you and increasing the friction of interacting with your business.
Don’t let marketing fall by the wayside
Marketing is a key part of customer retention and customer acquisition. As you consider what your organization needs to look like next year, make sure marketing continues to be part of the equation.