The events of 2020 presented some of the most challenging times businesses have ever faced. While, sadly, some have suffered greatly, there are others that have flourished. Here, V Formation’s Leah Bradley looks ahead to 2021 and how successful businesses have evolved as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
Since the UK was forced into the first national lockdown in March 2020, the working landscape shifted quickly and dramatically. Office workers, in particular, moved to home working, forcing businesses to adapt their IT infrastructures to allow for this to be effective. This has been easier for some more than others.
In many instances, where home working has been a smooth transition, companies are terminating their office leases in favour of home working and saving thousands on overheads. With more and more businesses realising that remote working can be successful and sustainable, there is likely to be a bigger shift towards flexible working patterns and remote working in 2021.
However, one of the issues home working presents is the potential isolation and disconnect for staff members. Some have the stresses of home schooling, some live alone and some may have been isolating for nearly a year.
Internal communications have become more important than ever for keeping your employees informed, engaged and happy.
V Formation client Lodders Solicitors took its internal comms to the next level in October 2020, with “Lodders Live Week” – a high energy blend of bite-sized training, social events, and wellbeing sessions – all delivered online. Highlights were a cook-along and a thought-provoking session by motivational speaker, Paul McGee, aka ‘The Sumo Guy’. Every member of the firm also received a pack of goodies delivered to their home, including a handwritten thank you card.
The rise of digital meeting platforms
Love them or loathe them, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet and the like are here to stay. These digital meeting platforms took a bit of getting used to for most people, but are already a ‘normal’ part of working life, particularly for remote workers.
In fact, although there is no replacement for the value of face-to-face meetings, these digital platforms provide a good substitute. The advantages that come with online meetings such as saving travel time and travel costs, and their increased flexibility will surely mean that they last well beyond the end of social distancing rules.
We also expect to see an increase in virtual events and conferences. Lots of event organisers were quick to shift their model to online/digital alternatives. The team here at V have sat through some truly awful online events, but also some very good ones over the last nine months, highlighting that there is still a way to go to get near to replicating the experience of live events. The key is to invest in your tech!
We have helped several clients to deliver successful online events with more in the pipeline. We particularly enjoyed delivering an online brand values session for FRAME, something we would ordinarily do face-to-face, but of course we weren’t able to. Utilising various online platforms, the session was a huge success. You can read more about this project here.
As people’s confidence in digital communications grows and new features are developed within the platforms to make delivering large conferences easier and smoother, the more businesses will turn to online platforms in a bid to reach a wider audience at a fraction of the cost of a physical event. The challenge for event organisers in 2021 and beyond is how to be more innovative and creative to deliver a valuable online experience.
Time to reflect and reimagine
The slowing down of the economy (and the pace of our personal lives!) during 2020 gave some business owners the time and headspace to think carefully about their businesses and their future direction. For some it was a huge learning curve into how the business operates and for others it was a time to reimagine the type of business they want to be. A refocusing of priorities for moving businesses forwards means we’re unlikely to go back to the more traditional ways of working that we left in 2019.
Marketing strategies in 2021
As businesses continue to evolve, so too must their marketing strategies to ensure they are continually aligned with business objectives. With a shift in priorities, new ways of working and the need to bounce back in the wake of the pandemic, a solid and up to date marketing plan that reflects the ‘new normal’ is essential.
Failure to recognise and adapt to the digital opportunities that 2020 created could result in some companies falling behind in their marketing efforts during 2021.
The start of a new year, this year more than ever, is a good time to review your marketing strategy and plan – the picture for 2021 will undoubtedly look quite different to pre-pandemic visions.
A final thought
2020 opened our eyes to new ways of working. The more agile businesses that are able to quickly adapt to the ever-changing environment and embrace the digital platforms will be the ones who successfully emerge from the pandemic.
We know we’re biased, but a strong and robust marketing plan – with a clear nod to your internal communication strategies – will be even more important in 2021 for ensuring that your activities are focused and support the strategic direction of the business as well as deliver a return on investment.