As we embark on a new year, it's a good time to reflect on all of the changes we've experienced in 2020. On both a personal and professional level, our lives have been turned upside down, and it feels like nothing will be the same. While we have mostly settled into a 'new normal,' it's now time to set our sights on our businesses' future to ensure we remain solvent and sustainable amidst uncertainty.
For many, this calls for an adjustment to existing marketing strategies as the pandemic and the economy's state impact market demands and expectations. Most business owners are in a position where they need the extra business in 2021 to see their companies to better times.
The days of throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks is over. Every dollar spent must move the needle, and the smartest marketers will turn their attention to their numbers. Thus, it's more critical than ever to audit and refine your marketing strategy to meet your target market's needs and draw the attention that will make a difference in your business.
Here are three key strategies to help you plan out a realistic roadmap for marketing in 2021.
Perform market research.
Nobody can tell you more about what your ideal clients want than your actual ideal clients. Speak to your current and recent clients about how their event planning experience has changed and anything they would have done differently. How have their priorities changed? Has their budget been impacted? What do they expect from vendors amidst a crisis?
You can also find the answers to these questions by browsing Facebook groups and wedding forums filled with engaged couples trying to navigate the planning process smoothly despite the circumstances. Act like a fly on the wall and take note of their biggest fears and burning questions. This information will help you determine how to adjust your messaging to address important concerns before they're even an issue.
To put it simply, 2020 has been traumatic. Businesses and couples alike have faced unprecedented challenges that will not disappear on January 1st or even when a vaccine is readily available. Couples will want to ensure they're covered for all emergencies because they've now seen the worst of it. As a result, caterers, venues, food and beverage companies, and other industry professionals will need to demonstrate their commitment to flexibility through strategic messaging.
Update your website to include FAQs that address emergency procedures and policies in relation to postponements and cancellations. Revisit your contract to ensure all guidelines are stated clearly. Practice empathy and compassion when speaking to prospective and existing clients about their concerns—your respect towards their fears goes a long way in developing a strong and positive client experience.
Focus on value.
More than ever, couples are looking for value for their dollar. Their budgets have tightened, but they also recognize that businesses are struggling as well. As a result, they expect to be taken care of more than before. It’s not that couples want to pay less; instead, they expect to get more for their money—even if they haven’t changed their budget.
Vendors must understand that the pandemic and a struggling economy have impacted couples as much as it has affected our businesses. Some have dealt with financial hardships, like unemployment or medical bills, so don't be offended if someone asks for a discount in these challenging times. It's not an affront to your brand's true value, but likely someone who appreciates your work but has found themselves in a tough predicament.
Instead of slashing prices and operating at a loss, add more value to your packages with small, scalable upgrades. For example, if you run a venue, installing an onsite tent or covered pavilion provides a built-in rain plan that increases your package's value without any discounts or free add-ons.
You are not alone in the struggle. 2020 has been difficult for everybody, from your industry friends to your competitors to your clients. While it’s essential to protect your business, it’s just as important to meet everyone with grace and respect for their own experience. When you operate from a place of compassion, you will win over potential clients through your authenticity and responsiveness.