Let’s face it, 2020 has been far from what we predicted. This time last year there is no way we could have seen working from home and social isolation becoming a regular occurrence! However, here we are 12 months later doing exactly that. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the world as we knew it and adjusting to long term changes in a blink of an eye is what businesses have done so well.
But what’s in store for 2021? Nobody knows for definite, but it’s got to be more predictable than this year surely. I know what you’re thinking, ‘how on earth do I plan for 2021?’ Well, to give you some inspiration I’m going to share some SME trends to look out for in 2021.
Remote working is sticking around
Can you remember the last time you sat at your desk in the office? Me either! Working from home is now a huge part of our everyday life. Whatever happens in 2021, you can almost guarantee remote working won’t be going anywhere any time soon!
This could have positive financial implications to your business if you consider remote working effective long term. Are you paying rent on office space that you may no longer need?
You won’t be short of choice when searching for a range of remote working tools that can help you conference with clients, chat with employees and run other day to day tasks. If you’re not familiar with the likes of Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype, now is the time.
This trend is a tricky one. Due to the impact of the pandemic, customers just aren’t spending as much money as they were before. 2020 has not been kind to the economy and the UK fell into recession, with the GDP plunging by over 20 percent in Q2 – the first time in over ten years.
This ultimately means the British public will be less willing to spend on non-essential items. So how are you going to keep the orders coming in during this difficult time?
If you haven’t already, begin to create your customer personas. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what your customers look for and how they feel when they buy your products/ services. The more you know about your customers’ attitudes, the better you can connect with them.
In 2020, customer reviews have influenced 95 percent of online visitors before they decide to purchase. So, what are you waiting for? Start incorporating customer reviews into your strategy. By focusing on reviews, you receive feedback from real customers, showcasing that you are a trustworthy source to potential future customers.
Reviews should be near the top of your strategy ‘to-do’ list. After all, as an SME, your marketing budget won’t be huge compared to bigger players in your field. This is a way to flaunt your qualities for free.
Businesses are supporting local
Remote working has meant more people are spending time in their local area. In fact, local businesses such as grocery stores and corner shops have seen a whopping 63 percent rise in trade during the pandemic.
This looks set to continue throughout 2021. You may already be purchasing your business’ goods and services from local suppliers. However, if not, there may be consumers or suppliers in your local area that could use your help.
Last financial year (19/20), BCRS purchased 81 percent of goods and services within a 50-mile radius of the head office in Wolverhampton and we intend to improve on this year on year.
Social media marketing is critical.
If your brand isn’t active on social media, I can tell you, you are missing out on one of the key components of digital marketing. If you don’t know already, I am the digital marketing assistant here at BCRS and social media is the biggest aspect of by day to day job role.
It’s not just down to what you post, it’s about the time, the platform you are using, who you are reaching out to and what message you are trying to get across. All social media platforms have different algorithms and audiences, so this content must be tailored to each platform individually. Regularly reviewing which content works best on each platform is important to maximise engagement and keeping in touch with your audience.
There are plenty of social media tips trick and trends on the BCRS blog page for you to get your teeth into if you’re unsure of where to start.
Small business funding will still be a necessity
Whether your goal is to move your business, recruit staff, increase marketing spend, or boost cashflow, small business lending will continue to be a go-to resource for companies in all industries.
This is where BCRS can help!
In a nutshell, we support SME businesses in the West Midlands that are unable to access finance from traditional lenders, by offering loans from £10,000 to £150,000 with terms up to six years.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
As an accredited lender for the British Business Bank, we are a delivery partner for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) as part of our commitment to supporting businesses in the West Midlands that have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
As an alternative lender, we became a delivery partner for CBILS due to our existing accreditation as a provider under the former Enterprise Finance Guarantee. For any loan taken under CBILS, interest and lender-levied fees will be paid by the Government for the first 12 months.
Please click here for more information.
That’s it from me this week. I hope this gives you a good starting point in how to start planning for the year ahead. I’ll be back next week with another topical blog post.
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Published by Lauren McGowan – Digital Marketing Assistant