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Creating a Marketing Strategy During Uncertain Times
If 2020 had a theme, it might be “Expect the Unexpected.” I don’t know of one company that has seen this year go according to plan. Many have faced unprecedented challenges. A few have benefitted from offering the right solution at the right time. Most of us have had to pivot in some way, and not one of us knows what 2021 will bring. So how are we supposed to craft sound marketing strategies, with all of this uncertainty?
My advice: think of this planning season as an invitation to get back to basics. Keep it simple by sticking to these 4 steps.
Choose one high-level marketing goal.
A good mantra during times like these is, “Focus.” Whether you need to build brand awareness, generate more leads, or increase customer satisfaction and retention, choose a single must-complete, high-level goal for 2021.
Use this goal as your North Star all year long. As you consider new projects or marketing activities during the year, ask yourself whether they will help you achieve your goal. When things don’t go according to plan (and they probably won’t!), return to your goal. When distractions arise (and they will!), return to your goal.
Set a benchmark.
Decide on a metric for measurement and set a benchmark. If your goal is to generate new leads, look at how many leads you have generated in past years and determine by how much you can improve that number. If your goal is to improve brand sentiment, get an accurate measurement of your brand sentiment today so that you know what you’re working with. Benchmarking now will help you measure your success monthly, quarterly, and at the end of 2021.
Embrace digital sales tools.
This year took us all by surprise, but those who had already embraced tools like video conferencing and e-commerce were better prepared.
In addition, as it turns out, most of the B2B buyers and sellers who were forced online in 2020 prefer it that way. According to recent McKinsey research, the shift to digital sales processes is here to stay. In fact, only about 20 percent of B2B buyers say they hope to return to in-person sales.
What this means for you is that now is a great time to evaluate your CRM, marketing automation software, video call capabilities, and general web presence, including your website and social channels. As B2B purchasers become more accustomed to buying online — even for very large purchases — prospects will expect you to have the tools to support a good online shopping experience.
Not sure where to start? Look to your goal. How can you use marketing and sales technologies to increase efficiency, eliminate friction, and support your goal?
Lean on your community.
thINK Forum is full of both people and resources to support you in 2021. Browse thINK’s MKTG Lab for a plethora of resources to support your 2021 marketing efforts, including:
- Press-ready direct mail campaigns
- Press-ready application samples
- Marketing how-to guides
- Sample sales presentations
Plus, get inspiration from the many thINK Ahead 2020 sessions on marketing strategies and tactics, which are all available on demand through December 31, 2020.
Do you have advice for fellow thINK members about planning for 2021? Contribute your thoughts to the comments below.
About the author:
Sarah Mannone is the Executive Vice President of Trekk, a tech-driven creative services agency. She works with Trekk clients to develop strategic marketing plans and craft measurable programs that span print, web, social, and mobile. As part of the Trekk management team, Sarah is involved in the decisions and strategy around adopting new technologies and applications to meet the current and future needs of Trekk clients. Sarah is a member of the Forbes Agency Council and a frequent speaker at marketing industry events.