If you’re reading this… congratulations! You just survived one of the most trying times in history. Pat yourself on the back, and enjoy being one of the lucky ones.

Now that you’ve propped yourself up a bit, you might be wondering – what on earth could 2021 hold in store? There’s no definitive answer, but certainly some lessons that 2020 have taught us.

Here are a few solid recommendations for planning your marketing outreach in the new year. Some are familiar – others may be new – all are important.

1. Refocus on your existing customers.

Now isn’t the time to focus entirely on bringing new customers to your brand. In fact, I recommend you focus entirely on those you already have, and find new ways to reach them and speak to them with an open honesty this year has forced upon us all.

Did you sell a lot of gift cards during the pandemic? If so… reach out and let your fans know you’re honoring them, and holding them for whenever they can use your services or product. Sure…this is tough on cashflow – but the value you give back to them will return tenfold when the economy stabilizes. Customer loyalty is worth a short-term hit on your finances. most likely come back to you tenfold when the economy restabilizes and your now loyal customers are ready to start buying again.

My point is: protect your customers, clients, and most importantly coworkers when times are tough. They will return the favor when you least expect it – and may need it most. They’ll become your best brand advocate, and organically help you grow your base. That base will, undoubtedly, attract new customers as well.

2. Get Thee Online.

It’s no revelation that everything is going online. Between lockdowns nd travel restrictions, it’s often the only place to go. New websites, social campaigns and ecommerce portals are here to stay – and a valuable way to increase your reach while brick and mortar continues to struggle.

Start an email list, and automate some messages to provide real value to your fans and followers. While you’re at it, investigate ways to automate as much of your services – from shipping to invoicing – get it all done virtually whenever feasible.

Here’s a few ideas that might be of benefit to your brand:

The more processes you can bring online, the more you can stay engaged with your customers and employees, which is critical for any brand to remain resilient and grow in these conditions.

3. Buy Social Media Advertising.

Social media has exploded as people have time to spend online and at home. It’s also the best way to remind your customers you’re still operating, and thriving. Help them understand you’re in for the long haul, and will be part of a new normal.

Facebook ads are still quite affordable and can quickly help you communicate changes you’ve made to adapt to pandemic conditions. Ads online have always been affordable if targeted correctly. More than ever before, it enables you to scale your operations and reach.

Facebook allows you to reach very specific demographics based on location, gender, interests, hobbies, profession, etc.

Cost per thousand impressions (CPM) has lowered during the year as even big companies scale back their ad spends. Now is a perfect time to invest in a sound Facebook strategy that will help communicate your brand’s unique values, and ultimately – make you more money.

Don’t forget – advertising isn’t an act – it’s a process. Consistency and repetition are key to any successful campaign – especially in these changing times.

4. Promote special deals and offers.

As more and more businesses begin to reopen, a good way to get people interested in your product or service is by offering exclusive sales promotions or deals. You can announce or even advertise these offers on social media platforms as well as promotional emails.

Unique deals and offers will help bring new customers to your door, while incentivizing old ones to return. This works particularly well for brands that have been hardest hit by the pandemic – restaurants, bars and hospitality/travel.

Discount coupons, codes, freebies and other saving options could be just the right incentive customers need to reinvest in your brand. Consier offering membership deals for loyal customers that return to you within a specific timeframe.

5. Rethink Your Communications Strategies.

As your customer’s lives and schedules change, so too must your marketing strategy change with them. Old assumptions need to be revisited, and every communication you deliver needs to be rethought.

You might start by revisiting your content calendar – perhaps writing some new blog posts (like this!), or even delaying some outreach you had planned for a better time in the economy.

How can you do this easily? Reach out and ask! Try a survey about their feelings, priorities, and needs. Make it simple and easy to answer, and provide some kind of small reward for their time to participate. And don’t forget to ask for any kind of input they want to provide – you might just learn something about your brand you didn’t know was real to them.

Once you’ve gathered this information, use it to rethink your brand communictions and find new ways to better serve your customers. Taking time now to communicate to your clients that you remain open for them may have lasting returns well past the next year.

6. Don’t stop advertising.

It’s too easy to stop your advertising when times are financially tough. In fact, I’ve seen advertising and marketing as one of the first areas brands stop during challenging economic times. Now is the time to really discover where your customers are hanging out, and then focus your advertising effort directly to them.

For example:

  • If you are a beauty brand, your target audience is likely to be on Instagram.
  • If your brand is a little more serious, say a physician’s office, you might focus more assets on Google.
  • If you have a business-related brand, LinkedIn would be your best bet.

Don’t just survive – thrive.

Defining your solid digital marketing strategies can have multiple benefits. You’ll not only get back on your feet, but get a headstart on the competition. The most important thing is to focus on your customer first and foremost. If you do that well, they’ll make it possible to achieve growth and even greater returns in today’s challenging times.

Don’t forget. Your brand exists in the mind of your customers – not just yours. Find out what they really want and need right now – today – during the most challenging time for business in history. Then…find a way to give it to them in the easiest format for them to enjoy. If you do that, you’ll not only survive – you’ll thrive.