Time to Plan For 2021

December 22, 2020

2020 has been a long year for all of us, but the end is finally in sight. With the new year comes new possibility and a chance to reset, focus on what we’ve learned, and plan ahead for 2021. But, about that plan – how do you plan when circumstances are still uncertain?

Here are a few things to keep in mind as it turns towards the year to come.

Focus on Sustainability

Sustainability is more than a trend. It’s a strategy for success. “In many ways, the crisis has drawn more attention to the ‘unsustainability’ of many of our pre-pandemic practices, especially around product and supply chain expectations,” says Norm Hullinger, CEO of Trevose in an interview with ASI.

Customers expect choices that are forward-looking and fair, and it will be important in 2021 to expand on your existing options and discover new ones. Wondering where to begin? Our recent webcast about sustainability can help get you started.

The Future of Protection

Keys? Check. Wallet? Got it! Face mask? Right here.

It’s no surprise that the use of masks and PPE will continue in 2021 – they’ve become a necessary staple for many as we try to stay safe while venturing out into the world. But it’s not just the face mask that is staying with us next year.

Lauren Cocco of Vantage Apparel says that “fabrics with protective features are key, such as antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Also look for added features like hi-vis trim, water-repellency or waterproof elements, breathability ratings, UV protection and moisture wicking.” Plan ahead to incorporate items like this into your offerings to meet customer demand.

Adapt Your Marketing Plan

People have to know about what you’re doing somehow, and your marketing is how that happens. Both your customers’ needs and how they consume information has changed over the last year, and if you haven’t adapted, it’s time to try some new things.

“It is important to emphasize how your brand is still essential to your consumers and how it can be beneficial to their lives. This may mean shifting focus from one product to another or emphasizing unique ways that your current offering can fulfill your audience’s needs.”

Employing digital marketing strategies, including email and social media, will be the keys to highlighting the relevance of what you’re offering and convey critical information to your potential customer base. And you can expand on that base by attending virtual tradeshows.

Have a Backup to Your Backup

What do you do when a plan falls apart? You go to your backup plan of course. But what happens when that plan also goes awry? Things just got very interesting.

Ryan Sauers, owner of Sauers Consulting Strategies recommends that businesses adopt a zig-zag mentality. “We’ve got to be expecting the unexpected. That’s the only way we go forward.” While we know that a pandemic recovery is coming, we don’t yet know when – the smart plans will be prepared for it when it comes, and agile enough to adapt until it it’s here.

What this can mean is going back to your core strengths as a business and exploring how to update them. What are you known for, what are you already set up to do well, and how can you expand on that in interesting ways? “It’s not looking real good if you haven’t come out of this with new ideas and new ways of working,” Sauers says. Use this time to experiment and stay nimble as changes come.

2020 has been a year of change, and the businesses that have survived have doubled down on their ability to adapt and plan for change. These strategies will set you up well for success in 2021.