You probably already know this, but just in case you don’t, I’m going to say it anyway. The thing you need to focus on right now in your business to be ready for whatever 2021 brings is to go back to what made you successful in the first place: RELATIONSHIPS. After all, isn’t that what marketing (and sales) are all about? The building and maintaining of relationships? But we have been separated from the opportunity to build relationships traditionally and we continue to be separated. How do we combat that from a marketing perspective?

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Hosted By
Monica Maye Pitts
Monica Maye Pitts Chief Creative Officer

What to Focus on Right Now in Your Marketing to Handle Whatever 2021 Brings

I remember driving to work this spring thinking, “Well, the only people working right now are me and the construction crews - especially the road crews.”

But this year, just like every other election year, is a weird one for your businesses (which, quite frankly, makes it a weird one for mine because I depend on your business to do my business!) And this year, with the pandemic, was even weirder.

Stacy did some calling around to check in, to get an understanding of what’s going on in your businesses so we could get a good feel if there was anything we could do at MayeCreate to keep you building, even in this strange year.

And, not surprisingly, she heard what we’ve heard so many election years but with a punctuated urgency.  Many businesses are not sure about their funding and feeling unsure about the future…

Now, while I can’t fix the government, I can advise you in your marketing — more specifically, what it looks like to market in the world we’re living in right now so we can insulate our companies against some of the things that may or may not go right in the future. 

So I’m going to tackle the first of a few end-of-year marketing topics for my construction friends:

The thing you need to focus on right now in your marketing to be ready for whatever 2021 brings. (And my three part strategy to get there.)

You probably already know this, but just in case you don’t, I’m going to say it anyway. The thing you need to focus on right now in your business to be ready for whatever 2021 brings is to go back to what made you successful in the first place: RELATIONSHIPS.  After all, isn’t that what marketing (and sales) are all about? The building and maintaining of relationships?

But we have been separated from the opportunity to build relationships traditionally and we continue to be separated.  How do we combat that from a marketing perspective?

Build relationships with this 3-part strategy.

There’s no skinny pill to building relationships, not personally, not professionally.  There’s no secret mystical way to make relationships out of thin air so you can pad your bottom line with revenue. But you can, with the help of your sales and marketing team, rekindle your relationships in 2020 so you’re ready to handle 2021 by incorporating these actions into your plan: 

(1) Discovery (2) Gratitude & (3) Support

When things are good, we get lazy in our relationships. In 2019, I don’t know about your business, but in my business, things were good.  And since my business serves YOUR businesses, I’m thinking things were not so bad in your world either.  So, in good times we take care of the tasks at hand and move forward to the other must-do things on our plates. We don’t do the extra things, because we’re focused on what HAS to be done just to survive the busyness we’re swamped with.

When I started my business in 2005, I had a business partner.  She was my sales lady, and I was her design lady — she’d sell it and I’d make it.  After about a year, she left, so then I was the design lady and the sales lady. If you’ve ever met an artsy person, you know about how good they are at sales. They’re fabulous beautiful awkward beasts. 

I pride myself on knowing what I don’t know, and at that time, I didn’t know squat about selling, so I enrolled myself in a sales course - Sandler Sales.  My sales trainer told me OVER and OVER again - when things get tough, GO LEFT.  

There are many parts of a sale, but they all start at the same place: the relationship.  Bonding and rapport.  When you hit a bumpy patch, go left — go back to the relationship, back to bonding and rapport.  That’s where this rekindling and reinforcing for 2021 starts: with bonding and rapport.

1. Discovery

When you meet someone you have to learn about them.  In sales we call this bonding and rapport.  In marketing we call it target market research.  Doesn't matter what we call it, the goal is to have conversations to re-learn about your prospects, customers and referral sources.

Don’t assume you know them right now. Enter into the discovery phase with an open mind — there’s no room for assumptions here.  Things are changing rapidly, and so are the challenges we’re all facing.

During the discovery phase, you're going to focus on having conversations. Now, I know some of you are going to want to plan excessively before you start having conversations.  You’ll want to make sure your website is perfect, you get that brochure re-done and your social media finally up and running. And I'm here to tell you, that's not the place to start.  

You start with the conversation. This magical meeting of minds is not going to happen in an email. Don’t set an appointment — PICK UP THE PHONE and leave a message, then follow up with an email. Conversations like the ones you’re after are not going to happen over text or on some group in social media.  (Although you really can learn some things about your target market and the people you serve on social media.) 

Throughout this discovery process, lean into making relationships, not just studying people. You're not just outlining your target market here, you're engaging with them in an effort to understand the challenges they're facing right now.

Discover what's going on in the world of the people you serve. Listen to the things they say and take notes. What are the things they're facing right now that are holding them back from doing more business? Look for patterns, the things you hear over and over again. And in those patterns, you want to latch onto the problems you can help them solve. Then write them down so you don’t forget them.

2. Gratitude

This phase has two parts: First, you’re going to actually show gratitude and thank people for supporting your company.  Second, you’re going to plan your marketing with them in mind, more specifically how you will “support” them with the marketing efforts you’ll engage in during step 3.

Plan your “support style” marketing.

You’ll show gratitude in the traditional way to continue to stay connected with your prospects, customers and referral sources while you’re planning how you’ll support them through your marketing.  You don’t want to lose the relationship you just started to rekindle in the discovery phase.

I'll give you some more examples of what that “support style” marketing looks like in step 3. But ultimately, the planning of step 3 runs parallel to showing gratitude traditionally in step 2. You need to put in place all the puzzle pieces that allow you to support your target market to reach their goals though your marketing in the gratitude phase, because all that awesomeness needs to be ready to move forward and actually support them in the support phase. 

Showing gratitude used to be so easy. 

Now you're going to have to be more creative with it. You’d shake hands at tradeshows, take folks out to a steak dinner, introduce an associate to a few other business contacts in the hopes that they might be able to do business together in the future. 

How can we turn that into something we can do now? 

  • Could you mention your referral sources on your website? 
  • Could you give them a testimonial about how great they are to work with? 
  • Send an email checking in to see if there's anything you can do to help them get more business. 
  • You might send them a thank you card or letter.
  • Make a fun “thank you” video.

Do whatever fits into your company culture and skill set. Get creative and show these people you really appreciate them.

3. Support

The support phase is honestly where the real marketing gets underway. When most businesses tackle their marketing, they think, “How can I sell this?” when what they should really be thinking is, “How can I help someone solve a problem?”  Because solving a problem will not only sell your products and services, it will build a lasting relationship.

How you plan your “support style” marketing looks different for each business. To figure out what you should do, ask yourself: 

  • What were the problems I could solve for them? 
  • What talents or skills do I have that I can use to support them and help them solve these problems?

Here’s an example: One paving company, Rose Paving, does a great job of using support style marketing on their website.  They offer white papers, free PDF downloads covering topics like: Is Your Parking Lot Legal?, 10 Factors That Affect The Outcome Of Any Paving Procedure and Got Potholes? Crack Sealing To The Rescue.

Rose Paving refers to their white papers as Articles.

With those white papers, they not only support the business owners making decisions about their parking lots, they also support their own sales people and referring general contractors by giving them the tools they need to share with business owners to sell Rose Paving’s product. 

Support isn't always a white paper, though. It could be a webinar explaining your products or addressing common buying objections that are barriers of entry for purchase. It could be an online tool to estimate services or materials. For some people, it looks like a Frequently Asked Questions section. For others, it's a blog, podcast, or educational email campaign.

Once you decide upon your support style marketing tactics, build the resource, then share that information everywhere you have access to.  And most of all, make sure your salespeople and referral sources are equipped to talk about it. Then every time they hear a person talking about this problem, they can present your marketing as a solution.

So there you have it...

That's my three part plan to rekindling your relationships in 2020 so you’re ready to handle 2021: (1) Discovery, (2) Gratitude, and (3) Support.

A little bit of marketing,  a little bit of sales and little bit of psychology to keep you on track to keep your business going now and in the future.

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