For many marketing teams facing the end of 2020, the idea of planning for 2021 is daunting. The reality is that we are still in the middle of this pandemic, and the factors that influence our businesses are going to continue to evolve throughout 2021.
The best way to approach planning for 2021 is the focus on a cycle of align, manage, and assess. Start by aligning the marketing team’s work with the strategic objectives of the organization – how will the marketing team contribute to the top-level organizational objectives? Next, manage the team towards those objectives by setting intermediate goals and determining what projects will make the biggest impact. Finally, assess progress on a regular basis, and use that assessment to realign and begin the cycle anew.
“The good news in the study was that “marketing sits at the center of corporate responses to these challenges as companies shift their go-to-market activities.” More than 62% of marketing leaders said the importance of marketing to their businesses had increased since the pandemic.” – Forbes
Here are some strategies you can use to help plan for 2021.
Make a plan A, B, C, and D
If we’ve learned anything in 2020 it’s that things can change rapidly and “plan A” can be out the window overnight. Going into 2021 we have the advantage of knowing that things are going to be changing, so embrace scenario planning. Plan for the best case, the worst case, and a couple in between. By taking the time now to plan a few different options you can quickly pivot when the time comes.
As part of your scenario planning, you’re going to need to make some decisions about what to cut or add back in when it’s time to pivot. In order to do that effectively you need to understand the ROI of the activities in your plan, especially as they relate to the process impacts. For example, your PPC program may be one of the larger items in your budget, but if it produces a large amount of high-quality leads, and it relatively efficient for your team to manage, then that might be worth keeping.
In addition to ROI, keep in mind the long-term impacts of cutting an activity. Some marketing tactics may be very easy to switch on and off as needed, like digital, while others take longer to get going again. It’s also important to know exactly what you’ll be losing if you stop doing that activity. Will cutting sponsorship at important industry events cause you to lose too much visibility in the market? Would reducing your content program mean you aren’t able to adequately nurture leads? Be sure to keep the full picture in mind as you build out each scenario.
Don’t stop planning!
One thing that will certainly be different about annual planning for 2021 is that it’s not going to be a one-and-done situation. As we move into the new year it’s going to be important to keep updating plans and alternate scenarios with new data. One of the biggest challenges marketing teams face right now is the disruption to their forecasting models. Even teams with robust forecasting are having to reevaluate their models. Do you include 2020? Do you plan off of 2019 numbers? What factors or assumption in your model have been permanently altered? This is why we’ll need to keep planning and incorporating new data as we move through the year.
If you’d like to develop a cycle of align, manage, and assess for your team so that you can achieve better content outcomes in 2021, schedule a demo of inMotion ignite.