10 Positive Marketing Moves for 2021
2020 is effectively in the run-out groove. Focus on survival and planning. It’s time to think about next year’s business and to tune your marketing to the boundless opportunities that will arise.
Here are ten positive moves you can make, now.
1. Listen to your customers all over again. Talk to them about how their businesses have changed. Engage with your sales force if you have one and act on their feedback. Consider focus groups. There are companies who can help you run them (virtually) and make them extremely valuable as you plan for a new decade of business.
2. Be ultra-responsive. How often are you personally driven crazy by the website that will do anything to divert you from really talking to a company? Those endless, circular FAQs, manipulative multiple-choice contact forms and outsourced call-centres are maddening, tarnishing the brand and generating anything but positive thoughts. Don’t fall into that trap yourself. Try out your own online and other interaction systems as a customer would and imagine what you, as a customer, would like to have happen. Simply opening a new Twitter account or making more posts on Facebook without focus and brand reinforcement is not the answer. Knock down any barriers to interaction that you can and make your customer feel cared for.
3. Re-think. It’s far too easy to amend rather than to create. Get your team together and use that combined brainpower to generate new marketing ideas. Be prepared to be radical, whilst not compromising your established brand values. As CMO, don’t be a marketing silo: new ways of thinking and creative abilities to take you forward into 2021 aren’t exclusively the prerogative of that one department. And remember, some of your best ideas might be “stolen” ones! Don’t be averse to copying great marketing ideas from other businesses; just put your own brand twist on them.
4. How competitive are you? Do you know how often you lose a sale or a deal to the competition, to which of them, and why? If you know, increase your win rate by refining your proposition, specifically better to compete. If you don’t know, find out what is happening. Ask customers; ask those who did and those who did not buy from you; ask the sales team. Some of your competition will have disappeared: how do you reap their customers before someone else does?
5. How’s your product marketing? Is there clarity in your product range? Look at TVs, laptops, mobile phones and tablets. The product marketing for most is abysmal. Distinction between items is confused or badly explained and price differentials are random or unjustifiable in the mind of the potential buyer. Yes, provide choices, but explain the reasons why product 2 better meets a buyer’s needs than product 1 and justify the price difference either way. Over-stretched product ranges are expensive in every way if they are not gaining you incremental business. Plant the seed of the upgrade to the next model with every sale and let the customer’s nagging need to have the best, sell it for you.
6. A key success factor in 4 and 5 above is pricing. Are you a complacent about what you are charging for your products or services? Price competition doesn’t necessarily mean undercutting the competition: perhaps your offering is too cheap when it’s actually superior and should be positioned as such. Don’t get sucked into price wars when you could go the other way and use a strong brand to claim a premium pricing position. There are going to be massive price wars over the next few months, with desperate companies putting themselves out of business by selling below cost. Be bold but sensible. You can always price-promote if necessary.
7. Outsourcing is probably providing some expert help in your marketing mix because you know that your own people cannot be the best at everything. But are your contractors and agencies performing well or are they just going through the motions, now that they’ve got the contract? Are they bringing you good ideas? Are you still dealing with the “A” team that won your business or have you slowly been given lesser performers to work with? Challenge them to keep delivering their best. They need your business more than ever, now, and they know it. Maintain the good relationship but be pragmatic for the benefit of your own business.
8. In B2B, are your major customers still profitable for you? Do some forensic analysis to check that you’ve not fallen into the trap of over-indulging and over-servicing them. Customer retention is important of course — and less expensive, generally, than customer acquisition — but it’s not more important than the profitability of your business. Large businesses are adept at playing their suppliers, but your relationship should be mutually profitable. Make sure that your marketing continues to influence the customer base for repeat sales at the right prices, and is not just stimulating the target market. People are looking for security after being burned by so much corporate bad behaviour this year. Be a provider that they can be confident with, but that is clear that they need to help you to survive, for your mutual benefit.
9. Focus is never a bad thing. It’s as important to choose which markets not to target as those to target. But: are there new segments; new opportunities that could be open to you? Or is it that your approach is currently over-generalised and your market segmentation should be better? Perhaps there is a market that your struggling to sell into: is it still worth the cost and effort to pursue it? Conduct your own exercise in segmentation marketing research. Define potential target segments (you may well already be selling into them); evaluate the opportunity in each forensically and objectively, then cost that specialised effort against realistic potential returns. It could change your business forever.
10. Old versus new methodologies. Much discussion amongst marketers centres on the uses of new technologies and marketing methods. In reality, there is no “old” nor “new” marketing. The principles remain the same. Marketers key task is to find the customers who need most what their companies best deliver, be it product or service, then shaping the proposition for acquiring that product or service in the most attractive way possible. Know the unchanging principles of marketing. Study and learn from the best — old and new — to make effective use of the many marketing means at your disposal and to inspire others in your team to do the same. Don’t be too proud to ask for help.
Let’s make 2021 a real comeback year!
Peter D. Bayley,