Many businesses were forced to close their doors due to the pandemic. More than 200,000 companies were forced to close in 2020 alone. Many of these businesses were in industries deemed "non-essential" -- such as restaurants and bars. Their closures and the resulting economic downturn forced many people to reevaluate their industry of choice. No one had a playbook for how 2020 would unfold, and the term "unprecedented" became (ironically) commonplace. 

Surprisingly, other industries saw an increase in revenue last year. Those who found success during hardship utilized unique business and marketing strategies to make things work. No matter which industry they were in, business leaders needed to meet challenges head-on and create methods to make ends meet. 

What can marketers learn from how industries are changing nationwide? Here are some tips that can help. 

Use Social Media to Connect

When the world was in lockdown, many companies scrambled to improve their digital footprint. Online interaction swiftly became the only means many had to connect with customers. One study from 2019 reported that despite social media's accessibility, roughly 38 percent of small businesses still do not use it to connect with their audience. But its importance should not be neglected.

Amanda Gunawan of OWIU Design uses her social-media platforms to express the unique vision and purpose behind her company. With a combined total of roughly 150k followers between her personal and professional Instagram accounts, she is able to brand herself and her company. This social-media presence became imperative in 2020, as networking had to be done online and Instagram accounts or websites often served as company portfolios. 

Manage Stress and Avoid Burnout

Leading a company during an economic downturn is undoubtedly stressful. Many companies may be tempted to take the easy route in order to alleviate stress instead of thinking about their long-term strategy. Learning to balance the pressure of highly competitive industries with a need for well-thought-out marketing strategies is a difficult but vital task.

Nancy Almodovar, CEO of Nan & Company Properties, runs the largest local real estate brokerage in Houston. Almodovar credits managing stress as the key to her success. "Stamina has been a challenge. You have to perform at a higher level to win the daily battles. Sleep, diet, exercise, and meditation are essential to prepare, reset, or rest enough to be ready to take on the next challenge without any lack of energy," she says. 

Know When to Pivot Your Strategy

Many interpersonal services were suspended for a significant portion of 2020. Some companies completely pivoted and changed their offerings to make ends meet. For some businesses, this meant emphasizing previously underperforming services and products, or totally shifting business models. 

Powerhome Solar, a residential and commercial solar power company, changed the way it advertised its services during the pandemic and saw a 95 percent year-over-year increase in revenue. They understood that most people were spending all of their time at home, and loss of power would be disastrous. Updating the way they marketed their offerings based on the new needs of their customers due to the struggles brought about by the pandemic was crucial. 

Before the pandemic, the value proposition around their offerings focused on cost and the environment. The new messaging, developed alongside the Sussman Agency, emphasized how they could help ensure homes would never be left in the dark during power outages. This subtle change in messaging brought them much success and is a great example of the importance of knowing your customers and recognizing that as their needs change, your strategy needs to as well.

Create a Strong Internal Culture and Company Personas 

Creating a strong digital brand won't happen if you and your employees don't understand your company's mission and values. WebEnertia, a digital brand and Web design company, understands how imperative culture and brand are to its success, no matter what is happening economically. With over 20 years of creating compelling design experiences for clients, they know that personas are key to an effective marketing strategy. Once a company understands its own brand, it can share that brand with the world.

Become a Student of Consumer Behavior

If they were not already doing so, marketers must marry their strategies to consumers' purchasing and behavioral patterns. The Sussman Agency works with clients to make sure they're adhering to consumer behavior and knows they won't find success without it. In a world that changed rapidly due to the pandemic, it became even more important to understand that your ideas may be brilliant, but if they don't reflect raw numbers, they aren't going to take you anywhere.