One full year into this pandemic there are finally reasons to feel optimistic about the coming months. That is welcome news for all – I am certain!
[Side note: I watched a short documentary about why the passage of time has felt so warped during the pandemic… It felt like the year that never happened, but also the year that was never-ending.
Apparently, it has to do with how our brain processes time. As a result of the pandemic, all of the events our brains use to mark and process time were missing since March 2020. Everything was canceled: spring and summer vacations; the high school graduation ceremony; the annual July 4th family celebration; visits with family; concerts and theatre shows; dinners out; all of the traditional fall and winter holiday celebrations. And so, it feels a bit like “the year never happened.”
And yet, time did pass and it is now one year later. Thank goodness. Now we just have to keep moving forward.]
Luckily, with the passage of time, things are improving. Slowly. It may take us a little while to believe it, but here’s the thing – we are on the cusp of a significant economic recovery. It is going to happen, likely starting in Q3 and Q4 of this year (and maybe as early as Q2).
According to their March 10, 2021 report, The Conference Board revised its Economic Forecast for the US Economy for the balance of 2021. The report states, “…Following a lull in the economic recovery in November and December, growth has improved.”
It goes on to state, “The Conference Board is upgrading its forecast of 2021 real GDP growth from 4.4 percent (annualized rate) to 5.5 percent. This upgrade is due to stronger than expected economic indicators in Q1 21, the imminent passage of a larger than anticipated fiscal support plan, and a faster than projected vaccination campaign.”
“…While the economy has already partially rebounded from the deep contraction in the first half of 2020, a variety of factors will determine the way forward…While there are many possible outcomes for these factors, The Conference Board has generated three potential recovery scenarios based on specific sets of assumptions.” See chart below.
What does this mean for your business?
It is time to get your marketing and sales plans in order. As the business people involved in driving sales and marketing for our companies, we MUST begin planning for the recovery NOW.
You don’t want to find yourself behind the curve when things begin to turn around.
With the worst of the economic fallout from the pandemic behind us, there is finally real hope that the US economy will recover during the balance of this year. Even the “downside” forecast in The Conference Board report indicates the economy will recover to pre-pandemic levels by early 2022.
This is welcome news for us all.
For those of you just trying to hang in there until things turn around, there is finally a light at the end of this tunnel. For those of you who pivoted your business offerings to meet the challenges of the past year, kudos to you! There will be new opportunities for increased sales and growth as the year progresses – if we plan for it properly. Don’t get caught in the “COVID hangover” mindset. It is time to get moving, preparing for the rebound.
As many companies plan to continue offering remote work or a hybrid work model, opportunities to serve these businesses will continue to grow. As a matter of fact, opportunities abound right now to help companies improve leadership and management tactics in this new era of remote work. “Management by walking around” (Tom Peters) no longer works with a remote workforce. Leaders therefore must be more creative and develop new leadership behaviors to better connect with, manage, and inspire their remote employees.
There is huge pent-up demand of all kinds right now. People are eager to go out and enjoy in-person events, travel, dining out, and even classroom training. We have all been apart for far too long and I know many executives who’ve expressed an interest in returning to in-person conferences and trade shows as soon as it is safe to do so. With vaccines rolling out across the country, it is hoped that we can start traveling and meeting in-person later this summer. That’s only a few short months away!
So what’s next?
It is time to get to work. We all need to start planning now for the expected economic recovery.
Get your marketing house in order. Be sure to have:
- A well developed marketing strategy for the remaining three quarters of 2021 – this could include email marketing, webinars, social media promotion, and phone-based outreach.
- The people and partners in place to execute that marketing strategy
- An email marketing campaign strategy that includes sending an “email teaser” with links to educational, thought-leadership articles.
- Enough qualified leads to market to
- An ACCURATE list of decision-makers in your target market with up-to-date email and phone numbers for every contact
- Fresh, inspiring and educational content for use in marketing outreach
- An email marketing system to easily track all opens/clicks and unsubscribes
- A process to call and follow up on all email campaign clickers
- Social media content ready to post at least 3 times per week – this means have a plan and someone assigned to do this who understands social marketing.
- A webinar strategy and editorial schedule, including promotional plans to drive interest (see above list under email marketing)
Get your sales house in order.
- Do you have the right salespeople in place?
- Does your sales team need refresher training in the use of probing questions or closing techniques? Should you schedule role-playing to refresh their sales skills?
- Is your sales process streamlined? What would it look like if everything were perfect? How can you work toward that?
- Is your CRM system set up to properly manage and report on all sales activity to inform business decisions?
Update services and refocus marketing existing services to address the effects of remote work.
- Opportunities always arise out of uncertain times:
- Are there opportunities for your company to expand or shift offerings to address the new normal?
- Are there ways to change your marketing content to better address how your solutions can help companies navigate the remote work environment?
- Can you re-purpose your offerings to address a new target market as a result of shifts in the marketplace?
- Consider the following sample statistics and then do your own research to understand today’s challenges and opportunities as they relate to your company’s offerings:
- 2020 has seen a 9% increase in Google search interest related to “team-building” (from Think With Google). As businesses continue to plan for making remote work a successful long-term option for employees, opportunities arise to meet the stated needs of these remote workers.
- 19% of remote employees report loneliness as their biggest challenge (from Buffer). Organizing virtual office parties or online Zoom or chat groups can help alleviate the feelings of isolation that can come from remote work. What can you provide to your own employees and/or the marketplace to help people feel less lonely?
- 20% of remote workers identify communication as an obstacle (from Buffer). Finding ways to address communication gaps is critical for companies with remote workers. Providing tools and solutions to help increase and streamline communication will prove invaluable to the success of these organizations going forward. What can you offer to help address this issue?
- Opportunities always arise out of uncertain times:
It is clear that a turn-around is on the horizon. Given the fact that it usually takes most B2B companies 3-6 months to see the results of their sales and marketing efforts, now is the time to get rolling!
- Develop a lead generation strategy
- Invest in a targeted, quality list of decision-makers
- Develop educational content – tips, best practices, ideas your prospects will find helpful and interesting
- Establish an email marketing campaign series
- Develop a follow-up process for all email “clickers”
- Cross-promote all content to social media
- Develop and promote a value-packed webinar series to deliver free thought-leadership to your target market
Determine if you have the in-house staff needed to ramp up your marketing outreach efforts.
We have a network of partner organizations that can help with your marketing needs – from list purchases, to content development, to email marketing, webinar management, and more.
It’s time to dig out from under this heavy pandemic blanket and begin to plan for the recovery. Be ready when it comes. Start planning today. Let us know how we can help.
Call 888-887-0556 or email: [email protected]
Remember – the time to prepare is now!