The future of the pandemic remains uncertain for most businesses, which makes planning far ahead a continuous challenge. Fortunately, developing a solid plan and some contingency plans helps to overcome that challenge.
Planning is a crucial component of business success. Seventy-one percent of fast-growing companies relied on plans to grow to their current sizes. Furthermore, companies with stringent plans grow 30% faster than those that don't. Having an established plan provides a clear path to follow, spelling out your end goal while aligning your team’s efforts to achieve it.
Given today's uncertainty, no business can afford to miss out on the competitive advantage of planning their long-term marketing strategy. That's a vital value to have while developing your annual marketing plan.
Here's everything you need to know about developing a post-pandemic marketing plan.
Make Backup and Contingency Plans
Always be prepared to adapt to unexpected changes and have flexibility in your plans. Ready yourself for all possibilities and develop your optimal plan, as well as several backup plans if your optimal scenario doesn't apply.
You should develop a “success roadmap” that considers any possible pitfalls, then create backup plans in case they occur. Doing so will also provide insight into which disasters you've avoided at year-end. Moreover, if your results don't match your original plan, you have a metric for how well you navigated the issues affecting other businesses like yours.
Develop Online Components to All Events
While developing your plans, include online components for all upcoming events. The internet is a crucial part of all your events moving forward. By embracing hybrid planning early, you'll be able to expand your customer reach to include people comfortable with going indoors, as well as those who still have concerns. You can accomplish this by live-streaming events online simultaneously for people to follow along at home or providing premade packages that give them the opportunity to participate on their own.
An example would be virtual racing events during the pandemic. Getting together and running 5Ks or other races wasn't available with social distancing restrictions in place. In response, events offered packages with shirts, lanyards, tracking chips, and other accessories for runners to run on their own while wearing the event's attire.
Make the process smoother by leveraging your online marketing and website to allow better browsing or pickup purchase options to minimize in-store time for concerned customers. Businesses are finding solace in digital marketing to reach their target audience during these times, regardless of local regulations.
Align All Your Marketing Materials
Aligning your marketing content across all media creates cohesion between your online, in-store, and print components. Ensure your branding and content present a cohesive impression to all customers, since they prefer a consistent, multi-channel experience from brands. Doing so improves your credibility and removes any doubt or confusion as to whether customers are dealing with the same business.
Consistent multi-channel strategies bring businesses a 30% higher shopper lifetime value, a 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue compared to companies without one, and a 7.5% year-over-year decrease in cost per contact. Consistent brand messaging and relevance in content contribute significantly to this success, as it quickly develops consumer trust, helping move people through the sales funnel more efficiently.
Continuously Learn and Adapt
Your business must set up systems to grow and adapt to technological changes while maintaining your lead. Learn new technology, new practices, and who your customers are to succeed and pivot as situations change. Fewer things are more important than knowing your target audience and how to communicate with them. No group is consistent and keeping track of your consumer audience as it changes and switches through generations helps you continuously adapt to their preferences.
Just like the world around us can be unpredictable, so can your consumers. The best thing you can do is take advantage of all the reliable consumer data you can find, including the most popular marketing channels at any given time and the messaging that resonates with those who use them. Consider using first and second-party data collecting and checking out what your competitors are doing for inspiration.
Marketing is an Important Part of Business Planning
Marketing is an increasingly important part of business planning and needs more clout to grow sales and navigate the rapid changes of post-pandemic life. Times may be changing, but marketing remains the true driver for business growth and increased revenue. The best chance for success in marketing today depends on your business's readiness for 2022. We already learned that the hard way when the pandemic hit and rocked the business world — now it's time to maintain momentum by learning from those challenges.