Writing the first blog after a new year is usually pretty intuitive.
I’d typically do some research and tell you about any marketing predictions you should expect. I’d give you a recap on the things that worked in 2020 and highlight ways businesses and organizations can capitalize on what they’re currently doing well, and how they can expand on that in 2021. I might even throw in some tips (or reminders, for many) on how you can prioritize your marketing in the new year.
I think it’s valuable to still include all of that information, but it feels weird to ignore what we all just went through in 2020 and to treat it like it was normal.
2021 seems to have a light at the end of the tunnel, but last year changed the way communicators and marketers will approach their strategies forever. Sure, how we approach marketing naturally changes over time, but 2020 seems to have put that timeframe on a treadmill and set the pace at full speed. What worked in 2019 has a new face in the year of 2021.
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Rather than providing you with a structured list of what you should be doing, I want to give you a few ideas of how you can go with the flow in 2021 and keep your likely fatigued, stuck-at-home audience interested.
Focus on social media and other digital assets, if you haven’t already
Social media and digital marketing are nothing new, but the importance of using these assets to communicate with customers skyrocketed during the pandemic. Social media calendars are a lot easier to adjust than other forms of communication, and your website built in 2015, if untouched, is likely outdated in today’s world.
According to this study, social media accounted for 24 percent of all U.S. marketing budgets in Q2 of 2020 — up 13 percent from last winter. The pandemic quickly made customer retention a priority rather than strictly sales, which will certainly continue in 2021. It also drastically increased screen time for many Americans, meaning consumers are discovering products, brands and organizations online more than ever before.
By focusing on your digital elements of communication, you can build a following that your audience goes to for information but also the personality of your business. Build a brand reputation that is relatable, trustworthy and highlights you as an expert in your field.
Get creative and focus on various forms of content, such as:
- Employee features
- Live streaming and edited videos
- Voice search
- Quizzes and polls
- Downloadable PDFs and E-Books
Continue to provide important COVID-19 information to customers, patients or clients, but realize we’ve gotten to the point that’s not all you should focus on. Most people are tired of seeing this information and glaze over it, unless it’s something groundbreaking. It’s OK to start posting as normal again and to focus on your services, promotions and stories outside of the pandemic. In fact, most of your audience would prefer that these days.
Show compassion when you can
About two weeks ago, Burger King in the UK made an announcement on its Instagram, which I found admirable from a public relations standpoint. Rather than continuing about its normal posting schedule, it said it would open its Instagram page up to small businesses struggling in the pandemic’s aftermath. Burger King made the decision to stop posting about its brand for a few weeks to use its platform to promote others in need.
The post garnered more than 43,500 likes, thousands of comments and tons of engagement, so I clearly wasn’t the only one who was touched by the move.
Although not all of us are Burger Kings or can afford to do something as large as this, it’s important to note that this act of kindness stopped me from scrolling for a second. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Whopper, but it warranted a “like” and “follow” from me and gave me a sigh of relief for a second.
Everyone is struggling, and it’s important to acknowledge that. How can your business or organization find ways — small or large — to help others? What can you do to help your customers or those you’d normally consider competitors? How can you show that you’re truly invested in giving back to your community? Jenny, our digital director, touched on how local Fort Collins businesses did this last May.
We’re all used to scrolling past ads and promotions like it’s second nature. Showing compassion is a way to stand out in all of the noise.
Keep a positive attitude, even when it’s tough
Staying positive in 2020 was difficult. With so many curveballs and changes in the way we all do business, it was easy to want to put projects on hold and wait until things normalized a bit. Here’s the thing — our 2019 “normal” won’t be back for at least a bit longer. So, let’s embrace the 2020 “normal.”
We need to power through and make the best out of what is handed to us. It’s important to remember that your audience needs you now more than ever, whether for much-needed content relief or vital information about your business or organization.
In 2021, make it a goal to think positively and to reflect that attitude in your messaging, even on the days it seems weird to do so. If anything, positive messaging will alleviate some stressors (here’s the science on that) and could help you stand out from what others in your market are doing.
Let’s get after this year. It can only go up from here. Right?
Kati Velazquez, Content Manager
Kati has been going with the flow and adapting personally during the pandemic as much as she has professionally. She is hopeful that 2021 will be the year we all get back to doing the things and seeing the people we love most again!