This past year, almost every aspect of conducting business has been impacted and made more complicated by the pandemic, and companies everywhere are looking for new marketing ideas to cope with the unprecedented challenges. As 2021 rapidly approaches, many businesses are setting their marketing budgets for next year, so now is the time to take stock of what worked and what marketing plan adjustments you can make as we head into the New Year. To help, we’ve compiled 5 considerations to help you get ready for 2021.
1. Review Your Available 2020 Data and Adjust Accordingly
While it’s always essential to analyze your company’s marketing performance, track the success of various initiatives, and measure the effectiveness of your marketing plan, doing so this year is especially important because those activities will likely yield crucial insights for 2021. The wide range of disruptions caused by the pandemic forced many businesses to switch gears and take new approaches to reach their goals, sometimes radically redistributing available funds and pivoting to unexpectedly successful marketing channels. While 2020 was a reactive year, now is the time to be proactive about adjusting your marketing plan and marketing budget for the current reality that will carry well into 2021.
Just think: this past year, we’ve not only changed the way we conduct business (fewer if any in-person sit-downs, employees working remotely, increased digital meetings), but customer behaviors have changed, too (how they shop, increased screen time, and screen fatigue, more time spent at home). Without a clear date on when a vaccine will be available, as businesses adapt their marketing plans and marketing budgets for 2021, it’s important to consider what customer engagement tactics worked this past year and which you can scale back. As you review the data, ask yourself questions to help reveal the big picture:
- What channels over/underperformed in reaching your target demographic?
- How did you engage repeat/returning customers?
- If conditions continue, how will you make your customer engagement programs more effective in 2021?
Looking for trends in your data can help reveal opportunities where you could focus more of your marketing budget in 2021, and even what that budget should be as compared to this year. For instance, maybe you have had fewer overall new customers, but your returning clients have been making larger purchases than usual. Should you increase marketing spend to bolster new customer acquisition, or should you step-up an all-out customer retention program to fortify your standing with existing customers? Should you do both? Or perhaps you’ve noticed a drop off in digital engagement as customers are experiencing high levels of screen fatigue. This suggests that you might consider adding new offline methods for adding to the customer experience.
2. Create a Personalized Customer Experience
At this point, the phrase “personalized marketing” may seem a bit worn out, but to be fair, it has received so much attention recently for good reason. That’s because personalizing your messaging and approach to engaging your clients helps build brand confidence, customer loyalty, and helps increase the chances of making a sale. Over time, the effort that you put into client relationships and customer experience will translate to more reliable customers.
However, simply personalizing the greeting of a message that is delivered via an over-saturated channel like email marketing won’t necessarily add to the customer experience. Instead, focus on how you can engage earnestly with your customers in a way that validates your business relationship and differentiates you from your competition.
Remember, a crucial part of personalizing your client engagement is gathering data from each contact and interaction. By continuing to gather data over time, you can keep improving your customer experience and hone the most effective methods for your business.
3. Continue Developing New Relationships
This one sounds obvious, but it’s worth considering a bit more, especially in the context of setting marketing budgets for 2021. During the initial lockdown, many businesses slashed their marketing budgets and hit pause on new client initiatives. This created the vicious downward spiral of less outreach leading to less customers, leading to tightened budgets which meant less outreach, and so on.
Unless your ideal clients are so hunkered down that they just won’t be spending money, period, down-times are when savvy companies lean-in, adapt and come out ahead of their competitors. Many businesses have now accepted that we’ll be conducting business from a distance for the foreseeable future and are working to adapt their marketing plans to this new mode of customer engagement.
Building new business relationships that rely on personal connections during a pandemic is admittedly a serious challenge, but it is by no means impossible. Rather than taking a break right now, marketing and sales teams everywhere are working harder than ever to identify new ways to successfully reach their target demographics. While building new contacts is more difficult in a challenging environment, it is still essential for long-term growth and success. Yes, we must survive the short-term, but the long-term is important, too.
Finding effective ways to participate in “relationship marketing” is essential for converting potential customers into actual customers, and this may mean adapting newer or previously untried approaches to reach those prospects. The effort that you put into establishing relationships now will pay off in the future by way of organic opportunities to engage with your clients to better understand their needs, wants, and bottom-lines.
4. Nurture Your Existing Connections
To put it bluntly, during this time of general chaos, it isn’t good enough to sit back and hope your existing client relationships will continue to carry you based on past good experiences alone. Instead, you should be proactive in reaffirming your business connections and strengthening those relationships. Now is the time to think about how you will engage your customers directly in 2021 to thank them for their continued support and to set up new opportunities.
In addition to helping maintain your business ties, a personalized thank-you note or birthday card sent to an important client creates a natural opportunity for further direct customer engagement. This kind of practice goes a long way toward making your customers feel valued, which is crucial for long-term client retention. Similarly, a personalized notification of a new product or initiative, or an invitation to a special event creates an opportunity for customer engagement leading to repeat or expanded business.
As we head into 2021, ask yourself, how can I keep my company top-of-mind with customers and prospects alike, and how will my business reaffirm our business connection? Spending some time with this question is especially worthwhile during the pandemic when face-to-face opportunities are diminished.
Having clear business goals and a comprehensive strategy for the coming year is important, but we must also remain agile and ready to react to new challenges and opportunities. New marketing channels are always emerging and it’s important to seize on opportunities as they arise!
5. Stay Agile
While it is, of course, crucial to have high-level customer engagement and prospecting strategies going into 2021, it’s important to remain agile so you can quickly react to changes in the business climate. The simple fact is that we don’t know what 2021 will bring, and so it becomes essential to plan for what we can while also remaining ready to adapt to market changes. This is always the case for businesses, only the difficulty setting has been dialed up a few notches.
With all of the uncertainty 2020 brought us, it might feel reassuring to write out one concrete, set-in-stone master plan for 2021, but to do so blindly would miss a key lesson of the past year! Yes, having clear business goals and a comprehensive strategy for the coming year is important, but we must also remain agile and ready to react to new challenges and opportunities. New marketing channels are always emerging and it’s important to seize on opportunities as they arise!
Staying agile is important to all aspects of your business, but it is especially so “where the rubber meets the road” regarding sales prospecting and customer engagement.
Achieve Great Customer Engagement ROI with Awesome 3D Cards
Are you looking for new ways to adapt your marketing plan to make or maintain deeper connections with established and potential customers alike in a way that achieves great ROI? Consider budgeting for Awesome 3D Cards to be a part of your marketing outreach and lead generation process. As we explored in greater length in our previous article, Using Direct Mail and Tactile Marketing to Build Personal Connections, now is a great time to implement direct mail as part of a tactile marketing strategy. Awesome 3D Cards are a great business tool for customer engagement and prospecting because they’re:
- Attention-Getting – Cut through the digital noise with a marketing tool that gets near 100% open rate at a unit cost that makes for an exceptional ROI of your marketing budget
- Versatile – 3D pop-up cards are perfect for everything from event invitations to thank-yous for VIP customers, to recognizing employees and reinforcing company culture
- Experiential – When a 3D card comes to life in the recipient’s hands, the micro-experience creates a positive emotional connection between the recipient and your brand
- Memorable – Once you have surprised and delighted the recipient and created a positive emotional connection using an Awesome 3D Card, your customer will be much more likely to remember the gesture and respond positively to future outreach
- Shareable – pop-up cards are so unique that they rarely get thrown away, but rather get passed around and shared so that your message gets broader exposure
- Personal - Sending a 3D pop-up card offers a great chance to add a handwritten line and signature to solidify your connection. Use the opportunity to express your thanks and appreciation for the reader’s time and attention, while also showing that they are worth yours!
As we all spend more time at home and on screens, now is the perfect opportunity to engage with customers in a way that cuts through the digital noise. To learn more about how you can deliver your message in a way that delights, impresses, and surprises established and prospective customers alike in 2021, contact Awesome 3D Cards today.