“Digital is the new normal for everyone, and those who embrace it will enjoy it.”
In this blog, Aaron Soh, Head of Channel Sales for HubSpot Singapore, gives some great advice on how to adapt marketing plans going into 2021 to ensure sustainable business success.
According to Aaron Soh, Head of Channel Sales for HubSpot Singapore, this is essential to any business planning going forward. He caught up with us at #Grow20, our virtual Grow with Inbound event, and shared some great advice on how to adapt marketing plans going into 2021 to ensure sustainable business success. Here are the marketing plan tips and insights from his webinar that you absolutely have to know:
Learn how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected behaviour
The pandemic has not been an easy ride, and it’s affected everyone’s behaviour — from clients and employees, to suppliers, service providers, and everyone in-between. While businesses (including owners and employees) have had to absorb the shock of lockdowns, individuals have also had to deal with unexpected stressors and adjust to massive changes as individuals, families and communities.
The HubSpot team, for instance, observed stakeholder behaviour to align with the phases charted in the Kübler-Ross change curve — a visual representation of changes in morale and competence in relation to time passed after a stressful event (in this case, the COVID-19 pandemic).
Kübler-Ross change curve, courtesy of cleverism.com
Noting this behavioural trend helped them plan proactive ways to support everyone from clients and employees, to suppliers and customers. Their aim? To enable their stakeholders to move through the phases of integration towards accepting the change, integrating and laying down new foundations for personal and business success from within the new paradigm.
Learning how the COVID-19 pandemic affected behaviour, and linking it to tools like the Kübler-Ross curve, gave the HubSpot team useful guidelines for management and content creation. This helped them reach people, at the right time, with appropriate content to drive their primary goal: business resilience and positive stakeholder engagement.
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Focus on adaptability
This year taught us a valuable lesson: no matter how well you plan, there are events that can derail it.
And, even if you’ve made it through 2020, Aaron recommends you throw out anything you’ve already planned for 2021 and start afresh; update your plans to consider how human and social behaviour, as well as the business landscape, have changed. The tip? Adaptability is key!
But what does adaptability mean for marketing, and business in general? According to Aaron, there are 4 main components that will secure your shift to digital, and ensure resilience in the face of any future uncertainties. These are:
Infrastructure: To be truly adaptable, you may need new infrastructure so your team can operate in the new, digital-first landscape.
Process: Moving into 2021, you may need to implement new processes that ensure you remain competitive and agile post-pandemic. This is especially important if you’ve invested in new infrastructure. For example, if you transition from tracking contacts and deals in an Excel spreadsheet to an online CRM, you’ll need to consider standardising new ways of working with that technology and how it affects things like handover processes between Marketing and Sales teams.
Success metrics: Map your success metrics to reflect your new processes so that you have accurate insight into how your team, business and new infrastructure may be performing.
Training: Without investing time and resources in team training, all these updates become pointless. For example, your team will need to know how to use the new infrastructure and how processes work within it. They’ll also only be fairly judged on performance once you’ve updated the success metrics.
Assess, revamp and update if necessary, and ensure that any change you make helps you engage in the new digital landscape and builds in the option for quick changes or updates.
Build on successful experiments
Some businesses have returned the curveball of COVID-19 and shot it out of the proverbial park, by fearlessly experimenting with new ways of connecting with customers and prospects. One of the best marketing plan tips? Build on their success, and learn from their failures.
For example, virtual events have grown into their own as lockdowns forced businesses to close offices and cancel on-location plans. Conferences, webinars and collaborative workshops have gone online, and are likely to maintain their high profile even if (or when) we return to meeting in real life. You only need to have experienced HubSpot’s annual conference, INBOUND, to realise the days of virtual events feeling like the poor relation are over.
While there are logistical benefits, like the fact that your planned event will be able to proceed even in the face of an unexpected second lockdown, there are also several other advantages to this digital transition. For instance, virtual events are cheaper to run, and your team can plan them while working remotely.
HubSpot’s virtual conference, courtesy of Zooma
Focus on your company mission
In times of crisis, everyone is running in different directions. From staff and clients, to suppliers executives — it’s human to lose focus on the long-term when you’re up against the unprecedented. At moments like these, your company mission becomes your compass.
So, a marketing plan tip for 2021? Don’t do any planning without revisiting your company mission. Use it to align everyone and ensure you’re all headed in the same direction. When planning, or introducing your plan to your team, it also pays to acknowledge the challenge and outline the recovery plan so that everyone focuses on a clear goal even when the going gets tough.
Shift your mindset
Most of us have had an overwhelming year, and are likely feeling under the weather (financially, or in general). According to Aaron, businesses stand the best chance of long-term success by shifting their marketing outreach from a sales and product-oriented focus, to being generally supportive. “People are not in the mood to buy from vendors,” says Aaron, and businesses can remain top-of-mind and grow positive relationships in the meantime by extending a helping hand.
A great way to do this is through vlogging or video marketing. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a spike in video consumption, and it’s a great time to dive in with valuable series-based content. Don’t be put off by a lack of budget — customers relate to raw videos that show the people behind their iconic brands are human, just like them.
There’s no silver bullet, but…
…there are a few pointers to round up these marketing plan tips. Firstly, when you’re building your marketing plan for 2021, appreciate that the landscape has changed fundamentally. Sales cycles are longer, and people are more reluctant to buy high-cost services and products at the moment. Over the next 6–8 months, you’d be wise to use content to build trust so that you’re top-of-mind when someone is ready to make that purchase.
Finally, know where you stand as a company and be honest about it with your customers. For example, HubSpot is new in the CRM space and needs customer-feedback to improve. Build this open-minded approach to two-way communication into your marketing plan and you’ll sow the seeds that grow profitable, long-standing relationships. And, while customers provide feedback quite freely, you may want to set up a couple of focus– groups to get a closer look at what prospects are whispering about.
Sometimes focus groups and marketing plans and strategies that drive your growth can be a little too much to handle. And the same could be said if you need to invest in some new infrastructure and adapt your processes. Fortunately, that’s where HubSpot partner agencies like Huble Digital come in.