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With so many people working from home or laid off, the boom in digital design and online marketing businesses is apparent. Employees see the advantage of telecommuting or are afraid to return to an office setting where they might be at risk of contracting the virus.

WKYC’s reporter Danielle Serino said many of those out of work decided to start their own companies during the pandemic. States across the nation have seen an increase in new business owners in all types of different industries. Your competition in 2021 may be greater than it was in the past, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still grow and gain new clients in the coming year.

Here are some things to do now to brand your digital design business and plan your marketing strategy for 2021.

1. Create a Digital Marketing Strategy

Your first step to better online branding is to come up with a plan for the year. Look back at what worked previously. Keep those things. Replace unsuccessful promotional attempts with something new.

Study what your competitors have in the works. Can you do something even better? Pay attention to trends in the industry. More people watch videos than ever before. Are you in the video marketing arena?

Plan around major holidays and annual events as well. You can always change your strategy later, but having a course of action in place keeps you creating content and sending your brand out into the world.

2. Find New Clients

If you want your business to grow in 2021, you have to gain new clients while keeping the ones you have. Just as more digital marketers and designers are entering the arena, there are also many more businesses who might need your services as they struggle to grow into successful ventures.

See what areas your competitors already reach by using mapping software and locating any holes in your marketing. Are there nearby companies you haven’t reached out to? Send your salespeople to speak to business owners in underserved segments or reach out to them yourself.

find your unique value Proposition

3. Figure Out Your UVP

What is your unique value proposition (UVP)? Think about the features of your business that make you stand out from others in the industry. Try to find something they don’t do well that you excel at. Perhaps you have the best customer service in the tri-state area. If so, include the message in every advertisement you put out, on your website, when you reach out to customers and anywhere else your brand appears.

4. Share Your Brand Story

Storytelling is an integral part of branding your business into something memorable. Think about why you started your digital design agency or marketing firm in the first place. Did you want to help other small-business owners? Perhaps you had such unique ideas you got fired from your first corporate design job. Be open and honest about how you turned adversity into opportunity.

Include the values you hold dear as a business. Perhaps you give a portion of your proceeds back to single moms because you were once a struggling parent with no help. Maybe you care deeply about keeping the environment clean for future generations. Whatever your passion, share it and be open and upfront about what you’re doing to make the world a better place.

5. Understand the Sales Funnel

Buyers go through a unique journey from the moment they land on your website or contact your company until they sign a contract. Know the steps of a buyer’s journey. The first phase is awareness of your brand, which is the widest part of the funnel. People here may not have heard of you before. You must educate, share your story and explain what you offer. As they move down the funnel, they become interested and want more in-depth information until they reach the narrowest part, where you’ll close the sale.

Create buyer personas, so you understand how segments of your audience might respond in different phases of their journey. Pay attention to bounce rates and conversion rates, so you can tweak your sales funnel as you go along. Test everything and keep making changes until your conversion rates exceed industry standards.

6. Be Consistent

Think of some of the world’s major brands. When you hear Nike’s name, you likely think about sports, a swoosh of motion and the phrase “Just Do It.” McDonald’s is about fast food and golden arches. What do people relate to your brand? If you aren’t consistent in the way you present your digital design firm, they may not remember you at all.

Create a style guide to ensure consistency across different channels where you promote your firm. Make sure you’re using the same color palette, logo and even fonts, no matter where your company’s information appears. If you run an ad in the local paper or post a meme on Facebook, both should tie into your branding image.

Challenges of the Next Year

The challenges of growing a business while a pandemic still rages aren’t insurmountable. You simply have to be on top of your branding and pay attention to where consumers spend their time. More people work and stay at home for safety reasons. The changes in how people live and work mean they’re online and on social media channels more than ever before.

Look for new places you’ve not had a presence before, but your target audience likely hangs out. Seek lesser-known platforms or break into video tutorials. Think about what your customers most want and need and how you can show them you’re the best choice to meet those objectives in 2021.

Lexie LuLexie is an IoT enthusiast, an aspiring Olympic curler and a web designer. She enjoys hiking with her goldendoodle and checking out local flea markets. Visit her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.