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2020 has brought many unprecedented obstacles for businesses. From the mass exodus of office work due to the Covid-19 pandemic to quantum shifts in consumer buying behavior, we've seen many companies struggle to stay afloat while managing a mostly distant workforce.
However, other businesses saw growth. Companies from the SaaS, marketing, and healthcare sectors found their services in high demand, resulting in massive increases in traffic and revenue.
But this rapid expansion had a hidden drawback. Unexpected growth can also create complacency. While 2020 has been a lucrative year for many, neglecting the right forward-looking systems could mean a painful downturn in 2021.
Here you will find out why you should never become complacent with your marketing – and how you can align your company for sustainable success.
Diversify your prospecting
After nearly 13 years in business, our marketing agency relied heavily on face-to-face lead generation conferences. But when the pandemic forced most events to go virtual, we had to adapt to keep our sales pipeline full.
Our efforts to keep up to date with virtual events paid off, and we saw 97 percent growth in 2020. However, our complacency led us to believe that this lead source would last well into 2021.
In fact, the opposite happened. Despite our best efforts to drive conference marketing forward, our growth was down 32 percent. We were forced to rethink our one-track mind marketing strategy and instead diversify our marketing to accelerate lead generation. We learned that having a single source of leads is rarely a smart or sustainable strategy. Always have a plan B – whether it's email marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), or beyond – so that you never become dependent on a single channel to keep your business going.
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Build scale systems
As growth spiked in 2020, we put most of our efforts into hiring new team members and managing projects. We were so busy with customer work and training our new employees that we had little time to set up the relevant systems.
These constraints created bottlenecks in our process that would later slow our growth in 2021. We ran into a roadblock and limited the amount of work we could take on. We didn't have the tools our team needed to do the work on a large scale.
In 2021 we have set ourselves the goal of maintaining the quality of our services and building efficient and effective systems in order to enable our growth in the future as well. Documented procedures and a well-designed content management system are our salvation for managing projects, training new team members and onboarding new projects.
Create a selling machine
While our minds worked on our countless customer projects, our attention was diverted from marketing. We boldly assumed that due to growth, our pipeline would remain stable in 2020.
The hardest pill to swallow is that many good things come to an end because you are unprepared. If we had implemented the right strategy from the start, we might not have seen the downturn in the first quarter of 2021.
Now we know that we are always on the lookout. We keep the door open to new opportunities at all times and do not take new leads for granted. We're always looking for new ways to reach potential customers, share relevant content and build trust in our brand.
To maintain growth in 2021, we have hired a sales consultancy to help us train our account managers and manage new outbound and inbound processes. We are already seeing an increase in leads and plan to prepare for 2022.
Related: 3 Sales Optimizations That Could Change The Game For Your Business
Think five years ahead
If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that the entire business landscape can change overnight. Many entrepreneurs have found themselves in an almost impossible position to make life-changing decisions. The lack of preparation resulted in many stores being closed indefinitely.
Today my philosophy is to plan at least five years in advance. What steps can I take now to position my company for future success? Do I have a B, C, and D plan in case my primary lead generation channel closes? Can I easily switch from the office to the remote?
While it's okay to manage growth and work on your business, planning for the future shouldn't be avoided. Instead, always sell and market so you don't end up in a difficult situation with just one lead source for your business.
This mentality has enabled my agency to grow from a one-man shop to a team of over 24 employees even in the wake of the pandemic. Painful experiences from early 2021 inspired us to put the right systems in place so that we never get complacent in our marketing again.
Does your company have a plan for the future? Start now to stay one step ahead of unprecedented times.
Related: 7 Steps to a Perfectly Written Business Plan