Since mid-March, the new normal has been strictly abnormal. Carefully crafted marketing plans for 2020 went out the window. Consumer behavior changed at a dizzying pace. And just about everything — from shopping to conferences — moved exclusively online.
With 2021 on the horizon, we can expect even more challenges ahead. Now is the time to ask: How can you propel your brand (both business and personal) forward in 2021? What types of marketing strategies and tactics will work best during this uncertain time?
Below, find six tips to step up your marketing in 2021. To reinforce the importance of these steps, I’ve added commentary from a November interview with Ryan Serhant, the top-ranking New York City real estate broker and beloved TV personality on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing New York, who managed to launch his own brokerage aptly named Serhant, amid this pandemic.
1. Lay a strong foundation
Don’t make the mistake of skipping ahead to marketing tactics without a strategic plan to guide you. You can’t succeed at marketing without first crafting objectives, target audiences, messaging and metrics.
Serhant explains that a successful brand requires a cohesive strategy that spans multiple channels and campaigns.
To get started, assess how your brand positioning, goals and purpose fared during the pandemic. Then take time to understand your target audience’s current concerns and needs. Lastly, check out the competition. How are they positioned?
2. Consider a reset
If you keep doing the same old marketing, you won’t get the same result — you’ll end up going in reverse. Especially amid the continuing pandemic, you need to adapt your marketing to meet changing needs.
Remember: Marketing is not about blending in with the competition — it’s about standing head and shoulders above them. Your brand should clarify why someone should choose you to sell their house or hire you for that coveted position.
Serhant is a prime example of this principle. He has always been about standing out, launching free NYC rent contests and skywriting one his real estate project’s name.
His most recent venture, Serhant, is entering the real estate world at an uncharted moment. “Nobody is starting a real estate firm now. We are bringing a new concept powered by media, technology and entertainment,” Serhant explained to Thrive Global.
3. Focus on the human aspect
At the end of the day, people make decisions based on their trusted relationships with individuals, not a business entity. You can take your brand where you go, be it a new company or even a new career.
Serhant notes that his departure from his previous brokerage firm is a great example: People want to continue to do business with Serhant.
He has cultivated an audience who likes, loves and trusts him. How? Serhant has done an exceptional job at strengthening his brand through ventures like “Sell It Like Serhant,” an online course that boasts 4,000-plus agents in over 100 countries.
4. Know the power of ‘we’
In 2021, focus on strategic partnerships and collaborations both externally and internally. Perhaps even consider “coopetition” — a collaboration among competitors to combine expertise and resources to amplify reach.
This strategy has gained momentum recently: Just last month, Burger King launched a campaign to encourage orders from McDonald’s and other fast-food chains. Why? This show of solidarity says, “we’re all in this together,” it raises awareness, and it benefits the fast-food industry as a whole.
Similarly, look at collaboration internally. Your staff members’ personal brands can combine to create something greater than the sum of their parts.
“I’m taking everything that built my brand and giving the blueprint to all my agents,” Serhant said in an interview with Thrive Global.
5. Unleash the power of great content
Being good is not enough; you need to capture your audience with great content. With declining attention spans (the average American has one just 8 seconds long), you must be a master of first impressions and get your point across quickly.
Whether blog posts or videos, Serhant makes sure each piece of content he publishes is shareable, engaging and actionable. He also knows it’s not enough simply to publish content — you need to ensure it resonates with your audience. Great marketers pay close attention to the analytics and assess what moves the needle.
6. Become your own news channel
It’s more important than ever to stay connected. Maintain a consistent drumbeat of communications with staff, clients and other stakeholders. And consider all touchpoints: websites, blogs, social media, webinars, podcasts, newsletters — even your email signature line.
Amid the pandemic, take the time to master Zoom and similar platforms like Facebook Live and YouTube Live. Serhant, a Forbes contributor, YouTuber, and frequent speaker, is an example of personal brand broadcasting at its best.
As you prepare for 2021, take these tips to heart. Careful planning is more critical than ever, with the pandemic adding so much uncertainty to the marketing landscape. But with the right strategy, a savvy marketer can turn these challenges into opportunities to reach newer and bigger audiences.
Stacey Ross Cohen is a branding expert based in New York City.
Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate. She is also a Florida Realtors faculty member. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook, Twitter, Instagr