Putting 2020 In Perspective
First things first – I couldn’t be more relieved, and thrilled, that with the prospect of what seemed like a doomsday economic scenario back in March, all of our clients have not just survived the year in good shape, but have absolutely thrived in the face of unprecedented levels of uncertainty.
I couldn’t be happier to see it.
But I think it’s also to acknowledge that this year, like more than any other, has blurred the lines between the personal and professional in profound ways that are hard to put into words, but should be recognized.
There is no question that along with the occasional humorous takes on working from home, learning to engage exclusively on Zoom, sharing your home and family with the outside world (intentionally or accidentally!) and more, there has also been a deep, collective personal stress that has reached everyone in some way or another.
Be it from the small difficulties for those who rely on their routines to those impacted by the personal tragedies of losing an income, a loved one, or both, I do feel we need to take into account that for the current time and well into next year that the individual humanity of those we work with in a professional setting should factor more into how we work with our clients, partners, vendors and more.
That phrase about “Be nice, you never know what someone is going through” has been really meaningful for me this year.
And in that spirit, we passed a big milestone in September – our 10 year anniversary – quietly. As someone who religiously celebrates the milestones of the small businesses I work with, I know how big a deal it is for a business to be around for 10 years. Yes, we’re proud, but we’re going to save any celebrating until a more appropriate time, hopefully in 2021.
I believe our consistency has been a pillar of the success we’ve created for our clients, but wanted to reference the milestone here to recognize that part of that consistency requires the need to evolve accordingly, which we are doing and as I will share below.
Now, a few updates – what we see coming in 2021 and what we plan to do about it.
The Coming Year – 2021
When we last reviewed the status in March, one thing I was very direct about was that Ecommerce was going to get big, and everyone who was not already doing it was going to have to get good at it pretty quickly as a survival technique.
I don’t normally ever get anything as right as that, as many reported seeing it in all of their own clients, and the data across various industries have verified what we see and hear about every day. Since it appears we are going to be in this “pandemic limbo” through the winter, it makes sense to assume that the Ecommerce migration will continue, strengthen and become entrenched for many.
Here is how we see 2021 in bullets:
- Ecommerce will still be big, AND still growing. This means dozens of ways that your business or your clients business will be impacted or have opportunities:
- Equipment and software for warehouses
- Shipping and logistics contracts and pricing
- Customer service infrastructure – software, phone/chat, training
- Policy/Process changes (Returns!)
- Marketing – digital and otherwise (is anyone else getting PRINT catalogs from websites now?)
- Remote EVERYTHING – it doesn’t take a genius to see this one, but like Ecommerce, some first-time users in 2020 aren’t going to give up Zoom in 2021. But instead of a band-aid, think of it as “Star Trek: Next Generation” and apply that future to your present.
- Sales presentations online – how to take it up a level? Your digital infrastructure is the new version of designing an impressive conference room or storefront for visiting clients or customers.
- Education, education, education – webinars became big in 2020, they will remain so in 2021, but there will be “webinar fatigue” too. How do you accommodate the various styles of learning with your content? Everyone needs to be multi-channel.
- Collaboration will matter more than ever – while going remote means you can do more of SOME things directly, the things you need to do in person will be harder than ever. Who can you collaborate with to serve your audience better? i.e. if you have a provider who provides on-site service and support for your clients, how hard would it be to leverage them to deliver, set-up and demonstrate the same products for a new prospect?
Marketing is Changing – You Will Need to Adjust
- Google continues to make changes that will make it harder to track data and measure results. It’s going to be harder to keep doing the same things as 2020 and before. Marketing Research and surveys are becoming more important than ever as Google is becoming a growing BARRIER to
- While we will still be recommending “content” as a core strategy, there is an argument for some industries now that digital advertising and PR can, and should play bigger roles.
- Spending is up EVERYWHERE in 2020 – and the competition will continue look at advertising as a shortcut to take share from market leaders.
How We’re Responding to New Challenges
2020 has been a challenge for our industry too. While much of what we’ve always done still works as we’d like, there are frayed edges everywhere and even a few tears in the fabric! 2020 has not knocked down the pillars of how the industry works, many of them are swaying uncomfortably from the way the ground has been shook since March!
So we are making some big changes in 2021 to keep everyone on stable ground and preferable, on even higher ground (after all, if you grew in 2020 despite everything, why not remain ambitious and pursue your advantage in 2021?)
The goal is to make sure that our clients not only not lose the gains they’ve made during this year (and past years), but be positioned to build on them in 2021 and beyond.
Because Inbound Marketing will continue get even MORE challenging from the changing Google landscape, it will be important to have new tricks, new tools and new talent to bolster its effectiveness along with complimentary services that will reinforce your Brand’s position and growth.
Services for 2021 will include:The Fennec Group has been on the move this year putting together the resources that 2020 has shown us will be be even more important going forward. Here's a brief overview of what you'll see:
- New Analytics and Planning tools – with Google constantly making data less visible, we have upgraded our tools to give us better analytics for planning content, keywords, etc. Clients will see some reports coming from these as early as January.
- New Writing Talent – staying consistent in 2020 while trying to react to the weekly (daily!) current events has been difficult. We are expanding our resources in this space to keep the content flowing consistently and on-Brand with SEO in mind.
- Digital Advertising – based on what we’ve seen in 2020, some of our clients might benefit from some online advertising (especially integrated with your content offers) as a way to boost traffic and find leads that might shorten the sales cycle. For those without a lot of experience in this space, it does require some testing and tweaking before it can be measured as effective or not, but still worth doing from the proper foundation.
- Public Relations – getting placement in industry magazines, media outlets and others with much larger audience than our own business can contribute to both your Brand and your Sales. We now have a PR resource for whom some clients would be able to benefit from as a way to amplify your news and your best offers.
- Digital Events – in conjunction with our PR resource, we are going to put more energy and creativity into your “events” work. We don’t see the trade show/conference world coming back to and regular “in-person” style before June, so getting your own events online will be more important than ever.
- Social Channels - One other impact from this year is that it has led to higher engagement on social channels for B2B businesses as well, so we will be building a more consistent approach into our retainers with new resources being brought in to manage this as a higher priority.
- Research Resources – while we regularly do research and surveys with our clients EXISTING customers, we also started offering panel surveys of unknown contacts that we can target by industry and job title (with some limitations). It’s a great way to get a better picture of your industry and the direction it is going in. They also make a great resource for putting together original content. Look for more content on this topic soon.
- Other Consulting Resources – We will continue to provide our other services (like product development/design, or business management) but have also added other resources like forensic accounting. We have found over the years that many business are held back in their growth investments by not having a good handle on their numbers, and this has turned out to be an important way to help businesses move forward and resume a growth trajectory (and no, we don’t do accounting, just the forensics and clean-up of your books!).
Over the next month, you will begin seeing these offerings get better representation on our website. In line with 2020's penchant for breaking things, we are not waiting for the website to be perfect to share new things with you, and will keep updating this space as we complete the materials needed to represent it properly to the public.
And if we haven't seen each other on Zoom in pajamas this year, let's just consider that another small win while acknowledging this new world will result in the occasional overlap of the "personal and professional"!