Yeah, I get the irony. I’m putting out a “planning for 2021” marketing tip list well over a month into 2021, mostly due to my own poor planning. But bear with me, this is a good one. And remember, you were warned that this newsletter would be irregularly published.
We’ve written previously about the unsettled state of marketing during the pandemic, the changes to consumer behavior, and need to be flexible in all ways in this “new normal.” That remains true in 2021.
If you’re asking, “what should I do differently in 2021,” my response is this: be ready to do everything the same. And also different. Don’t be rigid with your planning, because everything could (and probably will…) be upended tomorrow.
Keep It Short
Forget about mapping out your sales and marketing for the entire year, or even for the first half. At most, you should be looking at it quarterly, or even monthly. Smaller windows of time give you more flexibility, allowing your team to better adapt to market conditions.
If you have the luxury of a big marketing team, you can plan to try a bunch of things. Sales, promotions, tests of new products and markets. If you have a smaller team, focus on one or two things and try those for the first month or two.
You’re going to think this is not enough, but it’s realistic. It also gives you time to adjust if and when disruptions come up. This year will necessitate agile changes, and this approach gives you a shot at meeting new challenges.
Keep it simple
Because you’ll be working with smaller windows of time, you’ll be updating your marketing plan pretty frequently. Because of that: – Limit the number of different tactics you employ. Focus on just a few, but do them really, really well. And do them consistently. – Measure a few critical KPIs. Implementing a limited number of activities mean that they all have to work, so measure them weekly to ensure they’re effective. If a tactic is clearly failing, cut bait and move to something else.
Trust your data
We went into the pandemic blind, but now you should have a better understanding of what happened to your business in 2020. History has a way of repeating itself. In marketing, it’s essential to utilize all of the data you’ve collected over the year to gain insights into your company’s wins, losses, and everything in between.
- Who were your new customers last year, and were they different (by demographics, geography, etc.) than your customers of 2019?
- What did they buy?
- Is there growth potential in any of these markets in 2021?
Take time for yourself
If you’re like a lot of the marketers who I work with, you’re struggling with the new normal. You’re feeling disconnected from your friends and colleagues, and it’s getting more difficult to focus after 308 (or is it 508?) days in the same home office.
Don’t be afraid to take some time off, even if it means you can’t really leave the house. Block off some time in your calendar, shut off your notifications, and take an hour for you. Read a book, play with your kids, clean your garage, take up cycling, call your mother. Find a way to care for yourself, away from Zoom, and try to do it at least once a week.
If you’re able to get together with your colleagues, in an outdoor and socially distant way, do it!
A focused mind will be better able to adapt to the challenges of 2021.
Change with the times
So, do you need a sales and marketing plan? Yes, but like everything else these days, the way you create it and use it has to be different.
Businesses don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. And with everything going on right now, planning smartly (and agilely) is more important than ever.