No doubt, 2020 will be a year for the history books. Still, decorative concrete contractors must muster some sense of new hope and start gearing up for 2021. Each one of us must choose how we want to plan and prepare. And a 2021 marketing plan is the right place to start.
Some people will decide they feel lucky and skip tedious market planning altogether. Others believe luck is the residual of good planning. Consequently, they believe intentionally grabbing the initiative will pave the path to growth in the coming quarters and years.
As markets gradually start emerging from COVID-19, a good solid market presence will become more important than ever. The end of the year poses a good opportunity to take a peek in the rearview mirror. Ask yourself what went well, what didn’t work and how you can improve things moving forward.
For best results, involve the full management team in planning and developing your 2021 marketing plan. This makes for more diversity in thought. It also creates faster buy-in for initiatives, especially hairy ones. For better focus and fewer disturbances, invest in spending a planning day off-site.
The big picture
Contractors need to think about their company culture and growth strategy. Next, they need to revisit their vision, mission and objectives, and decide on budgets. They need to set goals for 2021 as goals are of the utmost importance. Moreover, they work like a compass to help align the organization around important milestones they want to reach.
Smart contractors will have a good idea about what advantage they give customers and how they best their competitors. They understand the key success factors necessary to win. Furthermore, they know these factors flex and will shift over time. Good companies make their strategic advantages difficult to copy.
Prosperous companies also have good salespeople. This comes from skills and experience, but also from active sales management. Excellent sales leaders share their time between planning, executing and following up. Sales reps in the field often feel lonely and need to connect to the mothership through goals, coaching and encouragement. They shouldn’t doubt or misinterpret direction and priorities. Likewise, pay and other incentives must align with achieving company goals.
Planning for marketing
Market communication makes up a big part of marketing. But understanding customer needs and wants is equally important. Only then can laser-like focus center on offering the right products and services.
For example, machine and tool manufacturers can develop new offerings based on unmet customer needs. Contractors can offer more choice in floor attributes and design, or work faster with more efficient methods, tooling or chemicals.
There are three steps to efficient market communication:
1. Everyone is a marketer
Just like war is too important to leave to the generals, marketing is too important to leave to the marketing department. Every customer-facing person must work closely with their counterparts. As a result, they must deliver the same message and remind customers about the value they get. Everyone also needs to listen to feedback and work on improving their performance.
2. Segment, segment, segment
Not all customers are created equal. Some will grow faster, show more interest in trying new things or remain open to suggestions. Group customers into different segments based on their needs. For instance, are they high or low maintenance? Willing to test new tooling or conservative in their approach? Prefer to buy online or only purchase from distributors? Favor “green” products or traditional offerings?
Segmenting customers lets contractors or manufacturers put together a good, competitive offering by groups, instead of chasing individual customers. It also makes it easier to target the most profitable segments.
3. Magic in the marketing mix
The big trend in 2020 has been digital marketing. Partly this is because it’s effective. In addition, COVID-19 has made sales calls and trade shows difficult.
The core of a marketing program should consist of a solid online lead generation engine backed by an informative website. The website should clearly explain customer benefits. It should present clear calls-to-action, so potential customers can easily call or request more information.
You must optimize the website so search engines can find it. This means lots of text on each page with good search terms baked in. Also, you must include frequently updated blogs on industry subjects.
Use regular email blasts to drive people to website landing pages. Regular mailings also help a company stay top of mind with customers until they decide to buy.
The second most important market communication method is personal selling. Research shows it takes six phone calls to reach a typical prospect, so persistency pays off. To further help generate interest, email sales-support materials. Informative case studies, short videos, white papers or catalogs all have their place in the mix.
A lot of contractors use social media like Facebook for advertising. Unfortunately, this isn’t very effective. Establish a good presence on LinkedIn and YouTube. But, more importantly, spend more time and effort on outbound calls and emails.
Finally, PR presents an inexpensive way to get the message out. Many trade press and websites regularly post press releases about new products, people on the move and customer wins.
In conclusion, set aside some time to plan and set goals while crafting your 2021 marketing plan. Getting the salesforce in gear, segmenting customers and thinking about marketing mix will make for a more successful year to come.