There’s no question about it. This has been quite a year. As we say an enthusiastic farewell to 2020, now is the time to make sure you have a marketing plan in place for 2021—one that will serve your brand well as the landscape continues to change in the wake of the pandemic. As brand leaders, you would be smart to invest the time and energy to assess where your marketing plan was pre-COVID, where it is now, and what your future goals are to ensure your company thrives in the new year.
To give you a head start, here are some tips from trusted experts on lessons learned in 2020 and the steps you can take now to plan for a successful 2021:
First, when planning for 2021, it’s important to understand WHY marketing is so critical. In fact, according to this Forbes article, “marketing matters more than ever” as a way to “build relationships with your audience while meeting your promise as a brand.” Among the considerations noted are the investment benefits of building that relationship, brand differentiation and the ability to stand out, providing your customers with a sense of belonging in tumultuous times and, finally, the “leg up” brands will get by making a concrete plan.
Brand United offers a rundown of five guiding principles that marketers can take into their 2021 planning sessions: 1) Plan for normalcy in a high-risk environment; 2) Differentiate messaging in a pandemic-consumed environment; 3) Revamp customer data approaches; 4) Ensure addressable media feeds targetable conversations; and 5) Invest for the long term.
Predictions as to what’s in store in marketing trends (which in turn will affect planning) for the new year abound as well. Forbes Agency Council, for instance, foresees new ways of customer engagement born out of the necessities of the 2020 shutdowns, such as increased two-way communications and a greater emphasis on conversational marketing. And a study from market research company Forrester Research forecasts that in 2021, customers will receive more marketing texts, emails and push notifications than ever before as a way for companies to maintain direct customer relationships, particularly as face-to-face interaction has become a thing of the past—at least for now.
The Forrester report also predicts that marketers will focus on more “neighborhood-level” targeted messages, since “COVID-19 has driven a surge in sales of newly built homes as consumers flock to suburbs and rural areas for more space and affordability while taking advantage of flexible working options.” For marketers, this will mean a transition from “urban-oriented messaging to more geographically targeted efforts to engage with local neighborhoods.”
As the calendar page flips to 2021, the common thread found in the advice and predictions from marketing professionals is clear: Stay positive, be focused, take stock, and make a plan that will resonate with your customers, even in uncertain times.