The impact of the pandemic means that many SMEs have inevitably lost ground and fallen behind on goals and targets.
As we ease out of lockdown, it’s vital to take action now to regain market position and strengthen competitive advantage. For the most ambitious businesses, this is an opportunity not just to get back on track but to take things up a gear.
Back to basics
As Fiona Nicolson, director, Continuous Communications explains to take your business forward, first go back to basics and review your marketing plan. How does it look in the light of the new, post-pandemic business landscape? You may find that you need a different strategy now, as your goals will likely have changed.
The next phase of your business will be different, so some aspects of your marketing plan may no longer be suitable for the circumstances. Others will need to be ramped up and you might also want to try some marketing channels you hadn’t considered before.
And if you haven’t had the chance to put together a marketing plan for this year so far, this is a good time to create it, as you will need a robust strategy and plan to advance effectively.
Even if your business is performing well, it’s worthwhile reviewing your plan regularly, as it’s easy to get into a rut with marketing. After all, you want to put as much distance as possible between your business and the competition, and do even better than before. So, continue to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. Can you learn from their post-pandemic marketing – and can you do it even better?
Most importantly, make sure you measure all outcomes from your marketing, and amend your plan accordingly, on an ongoing basis, to ensure time and money is always going in the right direction.
What to try
If your marketing plan still fits, good news. But if it needs a makeover, what action can you take, to re-launch your marketing activity?
Going back to basics again, a refresh of your website content could be helpful. For instance, does it reflect where the business is now? Does it demonstrate your positive approach to taking the business into its next phase? This need not be a major exercise: a few adjustments, some new content and some new photography could make all the difference.
Developing a higher profile on social media is key. Are there some social-media channels you haven’t explored, or any you haven’t been particularly active on? For instance, did you join LinkedIn, then rarely post, or only occasionally engage with other people’s posts? Or could TikTok be more your style – and more to the point, of interest to your customers? Whichever channels you haven’t used much, or at all, take a look at these now and consider creating or expanding your presence. And as for those channels where you are active, invest time in building your followers and connections, and increase visibility and engagement. In the new environment, it is not enough to do what you did before – you will need to make your business known well beyond its current ‘fan base’.
PR can also be very effective for taking your business to new heights. Journalists and readers are ready for stories about businesses who are succeeding, doing things differently or launching something new. So, this could be the ideal point for a strong PR campaign, to remind customers and clients that you’re still here and thriving, and to encourage new business. Aim for as much press coverage as possible in targeted publications and make sure people know about it.
And what about content − are you creating content that is a powerful representation of your brand? All companies have fascinating stories to tell and sharing these further enhances the credibility of the business. So, make sure that you keep up a steady stream of interesting, useful and informative content that ensures you stand out from the competition. Blogging is one route. Case studies can work wonders too, demonstrating what you can do for your clients and how well you do it, so make sure you have an up-to-date library of these. Revive your newsletter as well, if you put it on hold during the pandemic and give it a reboot.
Last but not least, you deserve recognition for your achievements and successes, so have you thought about entering for industry awards? Even if you already have a shelf full, don’t overlook the value of adding to your ‘trophies’. There is nothing quite like an award for confirming that your business is doing well and moving forwards successfully.
To sum up, whether you have a marketing department or you are the marketing department, getting external input on your plan can also be helpful. So, consider taking advice before you move forwards into your company’s new future.