It’s been a year like no other, 2020. But has it been all bad?


Here’s my take on what I’ve seen play out for many small businesses in 2020, including my own. And, how differently 2020 might have played out if we knew then, what we know now.

Ok , I’m not suggesting we could have influenced any outcomes in this crazy year by having some foresight. But any successes I’ve seen in small business marketing in 2020 have come from foundations that were set well before COVID-19 smacked us in our mask.


The business case for a digital footprint

The small businesses that rode the year best were those that already had a digital footprint in place before the pandemic turned up the dial on the internet.

  • An easy-to-use, easy-to-buy from website
  • a range of media formats
  • a Google My Business listing that was well-loved
  • an email marketing system in-place
  • and social media that was humming to the beat of the business brand.

Why? These guys were streets ahead because they were easy to find, easy to do business with and could meet their customers where they were.

If the business case for investing in your digital footprint isn’t obvious now, then it never will be.

The biggest mistake you can make now is to be ‘too busy’ again to build out your online presence.


Out-of-the box thinking – here to stay?

Whenever we get a ‘kick up the bum’, we’re forced to act differently or with more urgency than we would have otherwise done.

2020 for all of was just that.

Those that did the best very quickly found ways to do things differently – contactless delivery, cook-at-home restaurant meals, specialist appointments delivered via video to name a few.

Being in-tune with where our customers were at was fairly obvious.

We were at home. 

The shift happened overnight, rather than a gradual move in consumer behaviour that typically happens and therefore harder to spot early enough.  But we were forced to focus on our customers and their new behaviours and not tick along with the status-quo. We were reminded of how important it is to keep in-step with our customers.

The Australian-made sentiment has been turned up again, thankfully. And not just Australian-made – locally made. The closer to home, the better.  The possibility of losing our local cafes, community clubs and suppliers was and is still very real. As a small business owner, we need to be taking full advantage of our local audience that is listening, now more than ever. Local marketing is a key lever for many.


Forced to think about the future

Small businesses with multiple revenue streams were in a better position to survive or thrive. The question “what if revenue x dried up tomorrow, what would we do?”, was a reality for many. And really, this is a question that should be asked every year, every quarter.

The downturn for some small businesses simply forced them to stop and look ahead.  2020 was my busiest year with offering Marketing Planning Sessions. People had the time, the headspace and a very real need to think about the future.

It’s been a year to reset. But, I still hear many small business owners saying “we need to update our website, or Facebook or LinkedIn page”, when in reality, they’d benefit hugely from a bigger step-back. Instead of 1 step back, take 5, 10, 20 and start fresh.


The 2020 hangover

Sure, we’ll get busy in the ‘doing’ again, but from my viewpoint, two of the biggest hangovers from 2020 will be our increased priority on our mental health, along with where and how we work.

  • Who would have thought it’s possible for office-based workers to work from home? (Duh)
  • Who would have thought we can make smart business decisions in tracksuit pants?
  • Who would have thought that juggling work and family can be equally handled by both parents? (Not saying that the guys haven’t wanted to, but many workplace cultures just don’t make space for this.)

For me – my biggest hangover?

I now take a day every week for me. I step away from the laptop and do the non-work things that I decide are important to focus on. And the day after that, I work on my business. Thinking about tomorrow, working my way through my endless to-do list, endless because my day off feeds me with new ideas.


Over to you
What’s your biggest hangover from 2020?  What are you doing differently, that you’ll hang onto well after we bite COVID-19 in the butt? In a contactless way of course.

Amy Annetts, a marketing strategist in Melbourne, has been practising marketing for 25 years.  She creates marketing roadmaps for businesses that need to know where they’re going. Amy blends her corporate and traditional marketing experience with the latest digital techniques. Using a full-scale marketing toolkit, Amy’s clients use campaigns that earn them more customers.  And she loves red dirt and travelling Australia, having done ‘the lap’ twice and many outback trips in between.

But that’s another story.

Get in touch to see how Amy can help you.