In our digital world, creating a marketing plan has only gotten more complex. Throw in a pandemic… it's no surprise business owners' and marketers' heads are spinning. And if we've learned anything in the last three weeks, it's that circumstances can turn on a dime. However, not planning will only make matters worse. Without a roadmap, your marketing strategy and execution will be disorganized, less effective or worse, not happen at all. So how do you plan when the year ahead feels so unknown?
3 Things to Consider Before Creating a 2021 Marketing Strategy
We can assume 2021 will be just as unique as 2020. It will be important to take the lessons we've learned over the last nine months when creating future marketing strategies. These are the top three we'd like you to keep top of mind while creating your annual plan.
#1 Business operations are unknown, so focus on what you can control
If your business is a local storefront or a non-essential service, there are a lot of logistical parts of your day-to-day that are unfortunately out of your control, e.g., the ability to be open and go about business as usual. However, focusing on them is not going to help your business. Instead, use your energy to better understand how you can create opportunities. Ask yourself, what do my customers need that I can provide to them in this specific and unusual time?
#2 You may need to get a little creative
This is a follow-up point to #1. Your main revenue drivers may need to change and finding new ones will take some out-of-the-box thinking. For example, everyone is home so online businesses are booming right now. Is there a way you can put your services/products online?
#3 Health and safety will need to be top priorities
Many of your customers are going to want to know you're thinking through health and safety. A big part of your communication and messaging should be about educating customers on the precautions you're taking to ensure they will be safe when interacting with your business. They will also want to know how you're taking care of your employees. Don't be afraid to be open and get a little personal. Your customers will empathize with your situation, which will build a stronger relationship between you, and some of them may even want to help.
8 Steps to Create a Successful Marketing Plan for 2021
By focusing on these eight straightforward and simple steps, creating a marketing plan for 2021 can be inspiring and effective.
#1 Define your business goals
Your marketing plan should support your overall business goals. Get clarity on what they are (we love to use a SWOT analysis as a guide) and then craft a marketing strategy to meet them.
#2 Identify your target audience
Knowing who you're talking to in your marketing messages will not only help craft compelling copy, it will also help you better understand where to reach your customers. Start by creating buyer personas. Who is your ideal customer? Then start to dig into the analytics to understand what motivates your target audience and where they go to find information.
#3 Get clear on your positioning in the marketplace
This is when you answer the question -- What makes you different from your competitors? To get clarity around this, you need to understand what the landscape looks like with a competitive analysis. Then you can get into the fun stuff, like what makes your business unique. This language will be the driving force behind your marketing messages.
#4 See where you can create or expand your products/services
Understanding what untapped needs your target market has is the first step to developing new revenue-generating ideas. The best way to find out? Ask them yourself! A few simple ways to do this:
- Send out an email survey (Expert tip: take your time crafting effective survey questions)
- Follow industry related hashtags on social media and see what people are talking about
- Post a poll on social media
#5 Diversify your marketing channels and plan your messaging
Now you have all the information you need to start digging into marketing copy, design and distribution. What messages do you want to communicate? On what channels? Keep in mind that your audience may hang out and collect buying information multiple ways and may be at different stages of their customer journeys. This is why it's important to create multiple cross-channel campaigns to ensure you're top of mind when they reach the buying stage of the customer lifecycle.
#6 Set goals and determine KPIs
Goal setting and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) will tell you if your marketing strategy is working. These will be important benchmarks to keep an eye on throughout the year. So much of marketing is testing and refining. If you notice that your campaigns are not performing, don't be discouraged. Take a look at your messaging and distribution and see where you can make improvements.
#7 Create a budget for effectiveness
The last nine months have been financially hard for a lot of businesses. If you're one of them, it may be difficult to think about spending money. However, paid media has benefits that owned/earned do not. When considering your budget, don't just look at the dollars out, keep in mind the effectiveness, or ROI. If there is potential to create larger amounts of revenue, it can be worth the money.
#8 Be nimble and ready to change course
As marketers and business owners, we always have to be ready to adapt. However, this year in particular may require us to be even more flexible and innovative. When times are tough, inspiration can feel fleeting. However, cultivating new ideas and having business breakthroughs takes both resilience and a clear head. Focus on cultivating moments of clarity during chaos and you may be surprised by what you're capable of doing.
You don't have to do this alone.
If you want some guidance on how to build a cross-channel marketing strategy and reach hundreds of thousands of locals, please always feel free to reach out. We are here to help!