Whilst every business is unique and the marketing strategy you employ should be unique to your target market, there are a number of B2B customer trends that will make some marketing initiatives work better than others in 2021. Like most marketing trends, these hinge off basic human psychological principles, and when we get them right – we see exceptional success.
The interesting thing about 2021, is that it follows one of the most unprecedented and uncertain years in recent times, and sitting down to plan your marketing efforts for the next calendar year may seem a bit fruitless and overwhelming. The things we know for certain, however, are these.
Firstly, most businesses are in the exact same boat that you are. They have navigated through a period of caution and water-treading, and are now ready to kick things back off into growth, meaning that they are more comfortable spending cash reserves.
Secondly, businesses are taking more of a community approach to supporting other businesses. Instead of an ‘us-vs-them’ mentality that has lived amongst the culture in a lot of industries recently, Covid-19 has shifted that mindset to something more local – where we all recognise that we are all individuals, who are part of the same country, surrounded by the same rules and experiencing the same crisis. We check in on each other and have built stronger relationships across businesses and industries than ever before.
Finally, we are all still risk-averse. Although slightly less risk-averse than in 2020, this next year will still see most businesses continue to avoid using that program that isn’t mainstream, trying that new supplier overseas or expanding into a brand new market. That doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find new customers, but you will need to make sure you demonstrate your authority and expertise at every opportunity.
So given these patterns, what kinds of marketing initiatives are going to bring you success and support you to achieve your goals?
To start with a really simple one, Social Media needs to be something that your business invests time into in 2021. Mostly because over 2020, usage on the majority of social media channels has increased to an unprecedented level, especially across business to business channels such as LinkedIn. There are many reasons you need to be investing in this marketing method in 2021 but a few of the major ones are these:
- Social media will help you build relationships with people over a long period of time. Giving you the opportunity to walk-the-walk when it comes to telling your brand story, showcasing your products and building confidence
- Your competitors will be doing it. And if you’re not alongside them doing everything 5% better, you will be allowing their voice to be the loudest on that channel.
- Businesses and their employees are spending more and more time online. You can connect with people you never had the opportunity to before, and remain connected with them for the future.
If you are looking at re-examining or refining your social media strategy for 2021, focus on adding value. Try not to just add to the noise and clutter that comes with increased social media usage, but instead focus on high-value content that gets a lot of engagement and spreads further. Also remember to align your social media strategy with your company strategy. If it’s purpose is to build awareness – set KPI’s that talk back to that so you can track your efforts. If it is to generate more leads – make sure you are asking for those leads or those sales. Don’t just wait for someone to reach out to you.
Asking for referrals
One of the things that most businesses seldom do is ask for referrals from their happy customers, not just because they forget, but sometimes just because they see it as bothersome. For 2021 though, I strongly suggest you make referrals a big part of your marketing strategy for a number of reasons.
- Businesses want to support other businesses at the moment. And referrals are absolutely free. They are more likely to do it and if you make the process seem really easy, they will almost want to thank you for asking.
- Referrals are the highest converting marketing strategy you can use. If they are genuine, they alleviate any anxieties on the part of the receiver and are seen as a lot more genuine and risk-less than other marketing types.
- Nothing bad will happen from just asking. A lot of people are nervous to ask, but the reality is that if someone does not want to pass on a referral, then they wont. If they were truly impressed with your service and they agree to pass on your information, they will most likely follow through – as people like to stick to their word.
You can add a referrals system into your business processes so that it never gets forgotten and there are heaps of sure-fire ways to ask so that you always get the yes.
A lot of businesses will be reluctant to take risks in 2021 and one of the marketing techniques you can utilise this year to overcome that is an anxiety alleviator. An anxiety alleviator is something you introduce as part of your business offer that takes away any concerns someone has before giving you the “yes”.
These include things like:
- Money back guarantee
- Trial Period
- Extended warranty
- Discounted introductory offer
- Bonus with purchase
Things that your business can implement as part of your product offering that make a “yes” seem like a no-brainer are things that are going to improve your conversion rates in the new risk-averse world.
With social distancing requirements easing up, networking is something that you may be getting back into the swing of in 2021. But there are new ways of networking now, and a lot of opportunities for members of your business to engage in what we call ‘formal networking’ to build new relationships with people you would never normally come into contact with.
When I say formal networking i am referring to things like networking groups, associations, clubs or training bodies. A lot of these groups are made up of other businesses that are looking to support one-another and learn from each-other’s successes and failures. Most of them have a regular meeting cadence which has structured activities and learnings. Some groups position themselves as a ‘community’ with like-minded individuals.
If you want to build new relationships that will grow your business, looking out for some groups you can be part of in 2021 is a really great way to connect authentically and probably do a lot of learning along the way.
With so many people spending more time online being bombarded by a whole heap of information, it is imperative that your company website be simple and straightforward. One of the biggest mistakes I see when it comes to websites is they do not clearly explain what it is that a business does.
It’s like asking a bus driver where he is heading, and instead he tells you about the number of seats on his bus, the environmental rating and the values he operates his bus with. All you want to know is if the bus can get you where you want to go.
In 2021, one of the quickest wins you can have is to refine and simplify your website so that someone can tell in 5 seconds or less exactly what it is that you do and how it can help them.
When refreshing your website, pay attention to these things:
- Can someone tell in 5 seconds what you do and how it helps them?
- What is someone’s next step and is it clear? eg. Is it to ‘Contact You’ or ‘Enquire Now?’ and is that VERY clear?
- Are your services and products logically arranged?
- Are you demonstrating your authority? Have you featured companies you work with, associations you belong to, years in operation? Testimonials? How do people know you are experienced?
- Does your website load effectively across all devices?
Remember that people do not necessarily buy from companies that sell the best products. They buy from companies they understand the fastest. In 2021, before you invest any money in bringing people to your website, make certain that it works to achieve your goals.