3 minute read
If you'll allow me - in the interests of progress it might be useful to consider some tough questions.
I ask permission as I know it's been a different situation across different sectors this year.
But for all those who run a business or work in marketing there was a shock to the system earlier this year when the first lockdown suddenly kicked in and we all scrambled to make sense of it.
At that time Bespoke published a white paper predicting that within each sector some businesses would capitalise upon the opportunity to shake up their market share and others wouldn't.
From what we are seeing and hearing now that certainly seems to have been how it has played out.
Suddenly there is light at the end of the tunnel with news that vaccines are at an advanced stage and over the last week or so I've spoken to several people who say they are relieved by the news.
But as I've reflected on those conversations I think there is a home truth that is healthiest for us each to address as soon as possible - certainly I have been considering it.
Because we are seeing that the issues many business are reporting and attributing to lockdown are the very same issues they were describing 12-months ago, pre-COVID.
For example I spoke to a business owner last week who said that during lockdown web leads were unpredictable and they'd had barren spells with little new business coming in.
But later I remembered the same person describing the very same symptoms 12-months ago at which point we identified fundamental weaknesses in their marketing that I can see remain unaddressed.
So in that instance the issue is attributed to lockdown because lockdown is the current news story, but perhaps the problem will still exist in another 12-months, this time attributed to Brexit or a recession?
The problem is heightened by competitors in their sector having progressed even further in the meantime. They've capitalised on the opportunity of less travel time and fewer events to attend and enter 2021 and traded that time and budget investing in assets that improve their marketing.
Don't get me wrong we know it's been a challenging year for everybody - often on a business and family level.
But from what we see it seems that if your brand didn't really connect with your ideal customer during lockdown then in most cases it didn't last year in more normal times.
And similarly if your website hasn't converted visitors to enquiries at the rate you'd like this year, you were likely aware of opportunities for improvement last year too.
So a useful question is to what extent does your marketing and website fulfil it's potential regardless of circumstances?
Is it 50% what it could be? 70% perhaps? Or 30%?
We're well into the final quarter of 2020 and we know 2021 is going to be different.
It will be different because a vaccine will start to change the impact of COVID on business in the first half of the year.
But with only six weeks left this is our last chance to take stock on 2020 and make changes for 2021.
Regardless of our sector or how much we've improved our marketing this year a key question is how much have we sharpened our message or improved our website and marketing compared with competitors?
If we think back to the issues we felt we had at the beginning of 2020 can we confidently say we dealt with those this year so that as normality gradually returns we expect to benefit straightaway?
Or will longstanding issues like a lack of clarity around digital strategy or a website that isn't as reliable at generating leads as we'd like affect us again in 2021?
Regardless of when lockdown ends there are always challenges for business, driven by the weather perhaps, or by the economy - which will be affected in the next two years by Brexit and longer term impacts of the virus.
So are you going to emerge from 2020 with a lean, proven, high performing digital marketing machine that's set up to capitalise as normality returns?
Or are issues you've had in 2020 actually linked to issues you had in 2019, and will have again in 2021?
Tough questions to consider perhaps, but useful to address.
So regardless of what you couldn't control did you at least improve your marketing more than your competitors in 2020?
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Steve Brennan is Co-founder and CEO of Bespoke, and author of the Amazon #1 bestseller, Build Your Digital Marketing StrategyGet the book
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