It all started out well. Like most years, in the fall of 2019 we looked at the strategic plan for the firm, growth opportunities and developed a targeted approach and budget for 2020. As we roll into the fall of 2020 planning is different. Mentally this has been a year like no other in recent times and as a marketer it is one where we have constantly be making adjustments to our plan.
With the benefit of hindsight, planning for 2021 will look different. Our master plans, our insight and our playbook will change. There are annual items from previous years that may not exist in 2021. Industry event sponsorship or speaking opportunities have a very different level of appeal if you are not able to be in-person. Client events will most likely be virtual at least for the first half of the year but may open up in the latter half. How do you get the most out our professionals when they in a home office and less inclined to come into the office to participate in business development initiatives?
The good news is the basics or marketing have not changed – our goal is to provide clients and potential clients what they need, when they need it, at a price they are willing to pay. Understanding what clients need and when they need it may not be as easy to pinpoint in 2021 so as marketers we are even more likely to have one plan for the coming year.
In professional services, our product are our people. We can’t simply shift a brick and mortar store to e-commerce in the same way many consumer companies have done. That said, we do need to spend more time on our digital platform than ever before.
- Think e-Services as a new platform to help take care of business. Develop client collaboration portals so you can work together while working apart.
- Use electronic fund transfers so your client’s accounting department can pay you without going in the office
- Use your website to personalize the firm. Add video where possible to enhance the experience
One of the big things clients missed in 2020 was community or better put the idea of community. Connecting with people in person is how many market and the COVID shutdown really changed that.
- For people to feel part of something, they need to be engaged regularly, give them a voice
- Firms that find way to be a community host will reap benefits in whichever industry they work in
How your brand is valued may also change. I am not advocating for a brand re-invention (unless you really need it) but your firms purpose will be at the forefront.
- Does your message make sense with a global pandemic?
- Have you acted on your values during the crisis?
- Understand that how you have treated employee’s during COVID is an extension of how the firm is portrayed
Being able to stand out while clients concerns and behaviours shift will be a challenge in 2021. We are going to be virtual for the coming months, we need to plan for that while being nimble enough to change plans if a second, third or forth wave happens. The 2021 planning process will be different, make sure you have the tools you need to be successful.