As we all know, the year 2020 brought large-scale and completely unpredictable changes to nearly every business sector. COVID-19 transformed the way that nearly everything is done, and its effects are certain to have ripples that affect things in the year 2021 and beyond. But even with the disease still at large, the economy is showing signs of recovery. With any luck, the landscape of industry will look very different next year. Still, it doesn’t hurt to look at some of the changes that happened this year when planning for the next. Here are some suggestions, supported by data, on how to reach new customers in 2021 and beyond.
Get creative with your methods of advertising
Of course, the first thing that should come to mind when thinking about expanding your customer base should be advertising. It is how businesses accomplish that important first step of letting customers know that their product exists. While advertising has been fairly straightforward in the past, the new year demands new methods of spreading the word about products.
Now more than ever before, people are becoming resistant to traditional ads. Streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu prove that people are willing to pay significant amounts of money to avoid ads altogether. Online, ad-blocking browser extensions are practically a ‘must’, which means that banner ads are going mostly unseen (and let’s be honest, no one was paying much attention to them in the first place). As we all know, the year 2020 brought large-scale and completely unpredictable changes to nearly every business sector. COVID-19 transformed the way that nearly everything is done, and its effects are certain to have ripples that affect things in the year 2021 and beyond. But even with the disease still at large, the economy is showing signs of recovery. With any luck, the landscape of industry will look very different next year. Still, it doesn’t hurt to look at some of the changes that happened this year when planning for the next. Here are some suggestions, supported by data, on how to reach new customers in 2021 and beyond.
So does that mean the sun is setting on advertisements as a whole? Fortunately (or unfortunately) not. As usual, advertisers have found new ways to get their message across. Targeted ads, once thought to be creepy or invasive, are becoming more commonplace and expected. This is a good way to stretch out a limited advertising budget, by narrowing your outreach to consumers who are likely to be interested in your product. Indirect advertising through sponsorships and product placement are also a good way to go, since they bypass people’s accumulated resistance to advertisements and lead them to associate your product with a show or person that they already like.
Maintain a strong social media presence
People are using social media not only to keep in touch with the friends and family they care about, but the brands they care about as well. More and more people are following companies on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as a way to get news about their products as soon as it occurs. This is an excellent way to get customers excited about whatever new releases or events your company is working on. Even if there isn’t any ongoing pressing news related to your brand, the occasional social media post is a great way to keep your customers engaged and interested in your brand.
While at first social media might only seem like an effective tool for communicating with your existing customer base, it is actually a very effective form of indirect marketing. People will see when their friends and followers interact with your brand’s page, which will pique their curiosity. Seeing that others who they personally know and trust are using your product acts as the best kind of endorsement. And best of all, this kind of ‘advertising’ through social media is completely free.
E-commerce is more important than ever
The pandemic took a heavy toll on most brick-and-mortar stores. For both safety and convenience, more and more shoppers have been turning to the internet to purchase whatever they need. Even things like groceries are now being bought online. Although most physical stores have been allowed to reopen and customers are starting to return, it seems they may never be as essential as they were before.
No matter what your business is, having a route for customers to buy your product online will be vital for the year 2021 and beyond. If your products are only sold in-store, then the number of customers that your business will be able to reach is heavily limited by geography. Moving at least some of your business to the internet makes your potential customer base nearly unlimited. Competing with giant online retailers like Amazon is a challenge, but by using data-driven strategies, you can determine exactly who your target customers are and how to get their attention.
Focus on short-term goals
The start of 2020 was full of optimism and best-laid plans for the new year, most of which had fallen apart by mid-April. This is true for both individuals and businesses who expected it to be another year like any other. Soon the pandemic was accepted as a new part of life and more plans were made, only to be dashed once again by the ever-changing reopening schedules and general uncertainty of life in quarantine.
In short: this was not a good year for planning things far in advance. There is, of course, nothing wrong with looking toward the future, but when times are unpredictable it can be better to focus on what lies immediately ahead. Setting short-term goals is a good way to keep your business moving forward, while keeping your focus grounded in the present, and giving you the flexibility to adjust your course when needed. By incorporating the latest sales and consumer data into your dashboard, you can see current trends and flexibly adapt your plans as needed.