An essential guide to marketing for growth in 2021

The economic picture may have been sombre, but we saw the entrepreneurial and adaptive best of Australia’s businesses. Some pivoted to offer new products and services; many of those that had long been in-store only made the jump to the internet economy; people that had lost their jobs finally launched that side hustle they’d been talking about for years.

As Australian economic conditions approach relative normality, the mood is bouncing back. Roy Morgan reports that in December 2020 business confidence was at its highest monthly reading for three years.

2021, then, is the year of new opportunities. It’s the year businesses will be more open to taking risks. It’s the year businesses will be developing growth strategies focused on long-term success, not just short-term survival.

Here are some tips on where to start with marketing for growth this year:

Establish your goals

Ask yourself: what is the main role of marketing for my business?

Whether you want to build brand awareness, drive traffic, increase sales or diversify customer demographics, set SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely). Then keep it fresh: choose a goal and concentrate your efforts on achieving it; when you see traction, introduce another goal.

Keep your customers close, and your competitors in the rearview

Your customer is your world and ensuring you deliver the best product, service and brand experience must be where you focus your attention. Being obsessed with what your competitors are doing will take focus away from making magic. Be aware of who else is vying for your target customers’ attention but don’t let it be all-consuming. Look at your closest competitors and critically evaluate their business and marketing approach and how your brand differentiates from theirs. What are they doing well? What isn’t working? How do they compare on price and offering?

This intel will help you determine where you sit in the market, and how you can make the most of your position.

Establish your brand purpose and positioning

Once you know your customers and competitors, you can work on fine-tuning your unique selling proposition. This will be the central marketing message that encapsulates your brand values. Ask yourself: what’s the most important part of your business that your competitors cannot offer their customers?

Today, customers want to buy from companies that not only offer great products and value but are socially responsible. Brands that are socially aware, that practice sustainability, inclusion and diversity with their actions in addition to their digital campaigns  will win.

To ensure your brand stays ahead of competition, think about your customers’ values and where your business values align. Double down on them, and you’ll create more meaningful connections with prospective customers.

Experiment, test and measure

The way that businesses used to market themselves is changing rapidly. Relying on paths well-trodden won’t give you the return on investment that it used to.

Businesses should be inventive and test new ways of marketing. Adjust the tone in your communications, experiment with new channels, test new audiences. Whatever you change, one thing is critical: you must establish a measurement framework for your marketing activity (for example 10 per cent growth in web traffic or 15 per cent uplift in Instagram likes) and be disciplined in assessing the short, medium and long term impact. As you learn what works for your customers and your brand, you can iterate and evolve your strategy and tactics.

Running your business is hard work, but it’s empowering and enriching. How you approach your marketing will help you unlock the greatest growth and put you on a path to long-term success. The first step is to plan.

Jessica Cook, Head of Marketing, Square Australia

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