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September 23, 2020

Planning marketing communications for the next year will be nothing like what we have experienced before. While 2020 was primarily about adapting and addressing immediate challenges — e.g., creating virtual booths instead of building physical ones, jumping into the digital pool, and expanding video conferencing licenses — 2021 will hold many uncertainties.

Approaching 2021 planning strategically can help you better align with the changing behavior of your B2B customers and prioritize the tools that will deliver results. Here are four ways to elevate your industry status and become the go-to resource for new and existing customers in the coming year.

Take the pulse of your audience

2020 has certainly accelerated B2B digital transformation by moving customers and prospects online. If you are not certain where your customers get information, market research is the answer. It is a valuable tool that can help you make more informed decisions and minimize risk when launching a new product. Essentially, it’s a roadmap for success.

By conducting a survey of the industry, you gain valuable insight into your target audiences and what influences their purchasing decisions. This helps to determine how best to reach them.

Whether you choose a qualitative or quantitative research approach, surveys provide critical data that can be used to better position your brand and promote new products to a wider customer base. This information can then be used to create compelling marketing materials that resonate with potential customers, elevate your product, and help boost sales, such as white papers, infographics and even webinars.

Secure your experts

When industry news breaks, you have to be ready to respond. One of the most important resources a company can have is an effective spokesperson who is media savvy and able to balance a variety of responsibilities — everything from media interviews and speaking engagements to op-eds.

In fact, if you want your company to be seen as a leading authority in a particular field or business sector, you need to have an entire panel of experts who can be readily available to talk about the latest technologies, market trends and news affecting the industry.

Because a spokesperson serves as the face of the company, their role is to improve the company’s position and elevate the brand’s reputation, so they also should be used to represent the business at trade shows, meetings and industry events.

Partner with trade associations

If spokespeople are the face of a company, trade associations are the face of an industry. Trade associations are a valuable resource to aid companies with research, government relations, marketing strategies, and product promotions within a specific industry.

With tens of thousands of trade groups operating in the U.S. and Europe, companies have a wide selection from which to choose, and should seek to join those that make the most sense for their business goals.

Additionally, partnerships with trade associations open the door to a vast and captive audience, which can lead to speaking, editorial and networking opportunities that allow for sharing ideas, insights and expertise. With a majority of groups publishing a trade journal or industry magazine several times a year, as well as holding multiple meetings and conferences annually, companies have a tremendous opportunity to establish new relationships and generate quality business leads.

Get social

While there are many ways to promote your company’s brand and products, one tool that shouldn’t be overlooked is social media.

With more than 660 million professional members, LinkedIn is the No. 1 channel to distribute content for B2B companies. It drives more traffic to B2B blogs and websites than Facebook and Twitter, with 50% of traffic to these sites coming from LinkedIn.

In fact, LinkedIn is considered the most effective of the social networks for B2B lead generation, with 80% of leads coming from this channel.

With more people using social media during the pandemic, companies should leverage LinkedIn to build a robust thought leadership campaign and incorporate it into their 2021 planning. Sharing useful and expert content regularly on social media can help companies make new business connections, discover new opportunities and create a steady sales funnel.

For more ideas and insights on planning for 2021, email me by clicking on the link below.

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