4 Tips for Devising a Successful Marketing Plan in the New Year

As 2020 winds down, now is a good time to assess your marketing practices and what you want to accomplish in that area in 2021

4 Tips for Devising a Successful Marketing Plan in the New Year

Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill

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It’s been a heck of a year. You’re probably tired. And the last thing you want to think about is what’s next. But as business owners, we don’t get the luxury of taking a break from planning. A new year will be here before you know it. And if you don’t have a marketing plan, fate will write one for you.

Having made it this far in 2020, I think we can all agree that we don’t want to leave our businesses’ success or failure up to fate. As you get ready for 2021 and start carving out a marketing plan, be sure to do these four things:

#1 Batch customers and schedule regular communication

Winter can be a hectic time for plumbers and HVAC companies. You have frozen pipes to deal with, water heater repairs, furnace inspections, holiday emergencies — the list goes on. You may not even be able to get to everyone in a timely fashion. But don’t throw out their info.

Keep track of everyone who has reached out to you — new customers, loyal customers, even people who ended up going with someone else because of price or scheduling. Batch your contacts and make outreach and regular communication a part of your marketing plan for 2021.

For example, you might send out an email campaign in the spring letting customers and potential customers know about a specific service that you’re offering a discount on. Or you may send out an email campaign designed to educate new and old customers on the importance of routine maintenance, inspections, or something else you can help with.

Emails can also be used to let customers and potential customers know what other services you offer — services they may not have been aware of. They can be used to educate them on the problems you solve and prevent or remind them that you’re the company to call when they need help with anything plumbing or HVAC related. 

The point is whether you served them in 2020 or not, you can still provide value and keep the relationship going in 2021. Make that part of your marketing plan.

You may be thinking: Why would I reach out to customers who ended up going with a cheaper option? Or customers who couldn’t wait for service when I was booked out?

Because even if they went with someone else, you don’t know what kind of experience they had with that other company. Maybe they went with someone because they were cheaper, and they got what they paid for. They’ll inevitably need another plumber or HVAC company down the line. If they still haven’t found “their guy,” and you’re providing value and keeping your company top of mind through regular communication, you may still have the opportunity to win them over as a customer. 

Don’t throw away that opportunity. Just because someone went with someone once doesn’t mean they’re gone forever. Reach out in the spring of 2021, make email campaigns a part of your 2021 marketing strategy, and give customers and potential customers a reason to come back to you. 

Of course, outreach isn’t limited to emails. You can also send postcards, coupons, flyers, and other direct mail. The point is if you keep the contact info of all your customers and potential customers, you can dig into your system, find the batch you want to communicate with, and reach out when you’re ready. 

Not only can this help when things slow down, but it can also prevent a slow down from occurring. In fact, emails and postcards can be great reminders for clients who get routine work done every year. People are busy, and having that little extra nudge helps them out, while also helping you fill out your schedule.

#2 Get involved locally

We’re an online marketing company, so you may expect us to only recommend online marketing tactics. But there are things you can do in your own neighborhood that impact your business both online and offline.

For example, you could sponsor sports teams, golf tournaments, charity events, dance troupes, etc. in your local area and service area. It builds brand awareness and shows people you’re invested in your community, but sponsorships can also have online impacts.

Almost all of these organizations and events will have websites. And those websites tend to link back to the websites of their sponsors. By sponsoring groups and events in your local area offline, you’re getting local backlinks, which can affect your website’s performance online.

It’s a win any way that you look at it. 

#3 Look at what worked in 2020

It’s safe to say 2020 didn’t go according to anyone’s plans. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from this year and use it to shape our marketing strategy going forward. In fact, taking some time to reflect on this year is one of the smartest things you can do when planning for next year. 

Where do you start? Look at the actions and tactics you put into place in Q1, Q2, and Q3 of this year and determine what worked. Did you add a chatbot to your website to enable customers to message you? If that’s working, plan to continue doing it in 2021. If you added virtual assessments and that’s working, keep doing it.

The truth is we don’t know what next year’s going to bring. So if you’ve opened up a channel to make communication easier for your customers, keep improving on it. At the end of the day, anything you can do to make it easier for customers to talk to you, ask questions, and solve their problems is worth doing.

You also want to look at the ROI of every marketing channel to determine where to spend your marketing dollars next year. Look at your Google Ads, your Facebook marketing, your website, your GMB, sponsorships, radio, TV, press releases, and anything else you invested marketing dollars into in 2020.   

What was worth the investment? What wasn’t? Use the data to guide your decisions for 2021.

#4 Consider your customers’ new expectations

All of us have had to change and pivot our offerings and how we communicate in 2020 to some extent. I think a lot of that is going to stick because homeowners’ expectations have changed. As you reflect and plan for 2021, make sure you’re considering what your customers are looking for and what they’ll expect moving forward. 

For example, customers are getting more accustomed to Zoom calls, so maybe that’s something you want to consider keeping as part of your offerings, even after the pandemic. If you’re offering virtual assessments now, customers may want the convenience of that offering post pandemic. 

Make sure you’re constantly revisiting customer expectations. Doing this will help guide your marketing plan and keep your customers happy in 2021 and beyond. And isn’t that what it’s all about? 

Plan, but be flexible

One last thing: When planning for 2021, allow for some flexibility. Yes, you want to have goals, scheduled actions, and a vision for where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. But none of us can predict the future. Planning and strategy is only part of the equation for business success. We’ve also got to be flexible and ready to pivot at a moment’s notice. Keep that in mind as you plan for this next year.

Good luck and see you in 2021!

About the Authors

Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill are the co-founders of Spark Marketer, a Nashville, Tennessee-based digital marketing company that works primarily with service businesses. They're also co-creators of the award-winning app Closing Commander, which helps contractors close more estimates effortlessly, and co-authors of the book, Blue Collar Proud: 10 Principles for Building a Kickass Business You Love. Both regularly speak at service industry trade shows and conferences across the nation. Visit www.sparkmarketer.comwww.about.closingcommander.comwww.facebook.com/sparkmarketer, or www.facebook.com/closingcommander.


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