So 2020 didn’t go to plan. What are you going to do differently in 2021 to seize control and take your business to where it needs to be?
When Boris Johnson started 2020 by proclaiming that this was going to be a “great year for Britain”, the chances are he wasn’t factoring in a global pandemic.
None of us were.
We all had grand plans for this year, but Covid 19 has impacted every business, whether it’s a decrease in revenue, an increase in uncertainty or just the sheer frustration of not being in control of your own destiny.
After all, one of the key benefits to being your own boss is that the buck stops with you.
Yes, you’ve got total freedom, but you’re also responsible for the success of your business – if it’s failing, that’s on you; if it’s succeeding, you take the plaudits.
But since that first lockdown in March, perhaps for the first time ever, a huge number of business owners have had their hands tied.
You’ve had to shut down, and support yourself and your employees as best you can.
But with pharmaceutical companies and governments announcing a variety of vaccines, it looks like 2021 could see a return of some of the freedoms we all took for granted. The question is: what are you going to do with your freedom?
As usual, you’ve got options. You could carry on as you were, hoping that the economy bounces back and that a rising tide really will float your boat.
Or you could be bold, be brave, aim higher and put the things in place to make it happen.
A challenging economic landscape doesn’t mean that you can’t grow your business. In fact, when you’re optimistic and ambitious, there’s every chance that an economic maelstrom will represent serious opportunity.
History is rich with examples of organisations that were bold and brave in the midst of financial crises – Kellogg’s, Microsoft, Apple, Netflix, Mailchimp, Airbnb, WhatsApp; the list just goes on and on and on.
All these businesses chose to embrace the fact that the world was encountering major change, to carefully study the opportunities available and to take massive action to take advantage of those opportunities.
No one knows what lies in store in 2021, there’s every chance that things will be sticky for the foreseeable future.
The question is: what should you be doing right now?
What’s clear from the examples of businesses that have thrived out of the other side of recession and beyond is that they provided great products and services that were needed by their marketplace.
That’s step one. You need a great product.
Step two: great marketing.
It’s no coincidence that all of the above companies have put marketing front and centre of their operations – they know that it’s the businesses that can communicate powerfully with their audiences that will still make sales, no matter what the economic landscape looks like.
Here’s the problem though: great marketing is HARD, especially in a world of uncertainty, where an audience’s needs and wants are constantly fluctuating and changing, thanks to the pandemic.
But if you really do want to thrive through this recession and have a better, stronger and more profitable business out of the other side, then marketing isn’t optional, it’s essential.
Here’s a simple fact: how you fare during the recession and out of the other side will be defined by your ability to acquire and retain enough of the right customers for your business.
And as we all know, there’s a clear, direct correlation between the success of your business and how well you’re able to provide for you and your family.
Things have changed for all of us during lockdown, and what many of us have realised afresh is just how important our loved ones are to us.
Which means that for many of us, the single aim throughout this recession will be to protect our families, ensure that their quality of life is enhanced, rather than compromised, and that their futures are safe and secure.
The way to achieve that?
A thriving business, with a proven mechanism for getting and keeping customers.
Easier said than done though, right?
Sure, pretty much all of us understand how important getting and keeping customers is, and the vital role that marketing plays in that process.
And yet, many businesses just never take action to ensure that they don’t just have a great product, but great marketing to support that product too.
Usually there are two reasons why:
- You don’t have clarity on precisely what you need to do to get and keep more customers
Whatever your goals are for the next 12 months, then it’s highly likely that they will involve making more sales and creating more customers.
(It might be that this isn’t the case, but that’s the exception, rather than the rule.)
And here’s the issue: getting customers in the 21st century is easier said than done.
Things in the marketing world have changed A LOT over the last two decades, and they continue to change at a frightening pace.
It’s not just the fact that the Internet has come along and disrupted things for businesses – now it’s the case that what USED to work on the Internet no longer works.
As media spend moves from television and radio to Google and Facebook, the price of traffic continues to rise, pricing most small businesses out of the market, and starving them of the lead generation techniques that have worked so brilliantly from 2006 to 2014.
But where do you go when you can’t rely on the usual forms of “lead generation”? How do you generate enough leads? How do you get enough customers?
Should you be investing more time in social media? Email marketing? Direct mail?
Are trade shows still worth it, or a waste of your time? Is your message right? Is your copy compelling?
It’s these questions that paralyse most business owners into inaction, for the simple reason that they don’t have the answers, and as a result, they don’t do the right stuff (or anything for that matter) that’ll bring them closer to where they want to be.
Add into this the fact that the coronavirus has changed things for many millions of people, and it makes the marketing landscape even harder to navigate.
- You don’t have the time and/or ability to do the things you need to acquire and retain more customers
Even if a business does happen to have a good grasp on what they need to do to generate leads and get customers in the 21st century, that doesn’t mean that they’re able to do it.In its purest form, marketing to get customers is a simple process, but along the way there are areas of expertise necessary for success; from knowing how to make the most of Facebook to knowing how to construct a compelling message with copywriting, and if you don’t have these areas of expertise at your disposal, the chances of you succeeding are diminished.And once again, even if you do have these areas of expertise, the chances are that you don’t have the time necessary to commit the properly required time.