Remember back in January when you launched your marketing plan for 2020? You reviewed your goals, your budget, and your clients’ needs and put together a comprehensive approach to growing your brand. But there was no way you could have known then just how many outside factors would directly impact your company to derail your plans.
The COVID-19 pandemic. Social Distancing. Quarantine. Statewide shutdowns.
Because of these, you may find yourself looking at your business and seeing different goals, different staff members, different clients, and a different budget.
All is not lost. There is still time to adjust your plan to help keep your business on track, even during this unprecedented time.
Update Your Business Goals and Priorities
Before you can finalize your marketing approach for the next six months, it’s essential you review your goals. You may find that the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year are the same or similar, but maybe your approach in reaching those goals will change. But, you may also find those goals no longer really apply.
Ask yourself: How has the business changed since January? With social distancing rules, health concerns, work-from-home requirements, and other new guidelines, how should you update your goals to better reflect the current environment?
Also, consider how your customers may have changed. With an unstable economy, it’s possible their purchasing practices have changed. And what about your team? Many companies were forced to have layoffs and furloughs. Has the size of your team changed? Production levels? Skillsets?
Many companies are now working with a reduced marketing budget and/or fewer staff members. If this is your situation, you may need to change your marketing approach. Do your goals need to be updated to better reflect your cashflow?
The three to five goals you set for your business now will help you better determine a realistic approach to the rest of the year.
Analyze and Adjust Your Marketing Strategy
Now that your goals are clear and top-of-mind, it’s important to look back at how you’ve spent the last six months marketing your business. If you don’t take the time to track and analyze what you’ve done so far this year, you can’t make a sound business decision on what actually worked and how that approach can be tweaked to support your updated company goals.
Also, review your plan to see what you’ve not yet had the opportunity to implement. Do any of those tactics still make sense for your company? The economy today is completely different than it was at the beginning of the year, but sound marketing strategy can translate no matter what is going on in the world.
Finally, see what your competitors are doing to market their business. How have they shifted their approach – are you doing everything you can to get in front of your clients and potential clients? There are always things you can learn from other businesses in your industry.
Focus and Implement Your Plan
You have reset your goals, you’ve analyzed your successes so far this year, and you’ve adjusted your approach. Now let’s get realistic on rolling out the plan. Even if you are a natural marketer, brand building can feel overwhelming even in the best of times. With all that is happening in the world, you and your customers may be feeling fatigued. Now is the time to make sure you’re focused on what you are implementing. Whatever you push out on behalf of your brand must be thoughtful and encouraging.
Prioritize your efforts to make things as easy on yourself as possible. When you look at the most important factors for you to successfully implement your marketing plan, which falls at the top of your list? These typically include time, effort, and cost. So, as you begin to tackle your to-dos, make a list of what you know you want to accomplish first. Recognize that you may not be able to implement everything on your list all at once, so focus on your key priorities.
Tactics and Approach for the Rest of 2020
The reality is that COVID-19 is far from over. Not only did it change the start of 2020, we know it will continue to impact businesses throughout the rest of the year. This means that no matter what new and innovative marketing strategies we create, we still need to be ready to adjust on the fly. Here are some additional ideas to keep your strategy fluid and in tune with the changing marketplace.
Create a Social Media Editorial Calendar. Social media offers a low to no-cost marketing opportunity to nearly 3.5 billion people already online. It is a great way to reach your existing and potential customers without hurting your budget.
Building a strong footprint on social media platforms is a good way to strengthen your brand. To make sure you are best utilizing this tool, make a calendar for how often you plan to post and where you want to make an impact. This can then be used to keep track of the variety of content you plan to share. For instance:
- Consider writing white pages and blogs with tips for your customers that can be posted to your website or your LinkedIn business page.
- Post pictures of your team out in the community to Instagram and Facebook.
- Share articles about your industry from valid sources on Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Encourage your customers to give you good reviews on Google.
- Post community events you think your clients may be interested in on Facebook and Twitter.
The opportunities on social media are endless so make sure you dedicate time to post regularly.
Refresh and roll out your campaigns from earlier in the year. You know what works, you know how long it will take you to implement it, and you know these tactics reflect your goals, brand standards, and mission.
Use your team as brand ambassadors. Your employees are your best asset as marketers. Each day they are choosing to work for you and with you and they want to grow the business. Talk to them about how they can best support the brand and work with them on how they can talk about what you do. Ask them how they’d like to help promote your company. Practice elevator speeches. Encourage them to attend business meetings in your community.
Support your community. Consider partnering with local organizations to give back, build your brand, and network. Charitable organizations often look to businesses to help them promote their efforts by volunteering, offering in-kind donations, and helping them to support their mission. By giving back, your customers will also see that you are invested in your community.
Remember, all businesses are shifting their approach due to this pandemic. While there are many things out of your control, you are resilient and you have an incredible opportunity to elevate your business, reach new customers, and to continue to build your brand into something great. The work you do now will help you end the year as strong as possible and develop a firm foundation for 2021.
Julie Holton is the Founder and Principal Strategist of mConnexions, a full-service marketing and communications agency. Prior to launching her agency, Julie spent more than ten years working in top television newsrooms across the country, as an Emmy award-winning writer, producer, and executive producer. Julie coached reporters, producers, writers, and videographers. She also worked with her news teams to develop digital and social media strategies. Julie currently hosts two podcasts and is a featured author in numerous blogs and publications. Follow her directly on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.