As we close out Q4, it’s time to start planning ahead for next year and finally wave goodbye to the year that was — or often wasn’t. And while the happenings of next year may look hazy from this vantage point, there are steps you can take to ensure you and your marketing plan are prepared for whatever the coming year holds and to fully maximize your annual budget.
Tip 1: Be flexible.
An essential component of 2021 planning is maintaining flexibility so you can adjust if necessary. You’ll need to be prepared to adjust your marketing strategies based on sudden changes locally and nationally, so utilizing shorter planning timeframes will be helpful — focus solely on the next month or the next quarter, and allow for continuous planning throughout the year rather than doing it all at the onset. Make sure you are constantly checking what’s working and what isn’t, and make changes accordingly to maximize effectiveness.
Tip 2: Analyze your 2020 tactics.
What marketing strategies did you utilize in 2020, and how successful were they in helping you achieve your business goals? If you don’t have an answer to that question, then it’s important to start setting up tracking, such as Google Analytics and social media metrics, to measure the effectiveness of tactics such as:
- Your website
- Digital and social ads
- Organic posts
- Email communications
- Keyword rankings
Accurate data can help you determine the tactics that are leading your audience to convert or take other desired actions, and can help give you a starting point that you can improve upon. Ultimately, by allocating budget toward strategies that are most impactful among your target audience and developing new strategies based on your successes, you can work to improve your performance over time while maximizing ROI.
Tip 3: Make digital a major focus.
Many people are working remotely and spending more time in front of their devices. With the influx of micro-moment opportunities that you can take advantage of, you should be utilizing digital platforms to make sure your business is offering the information that users need, when and where they need it.
Digital advertising is one of the most effective marketing options out there, especially on self-serve platforms like Facebook and Google, and can help make the most of a tighter budget. Be sure to spend time streamlining your target audiences so your digital ads can reach the people most likely to engage. And after your ads are out in the wild, plan to continually A/B test to ensure copy, design and strategy are all working together to maximize conversions.
Tip 4: Try out different social media platforms and features.
One of the foundations of marketing is meeting your audience where they are — and now that society is more connected than ever, your audience is likely to be on a variety of social media platforms. In fact, according to a survey by Digital Commerce 360, 74% of participants have been consuming more social media since the pandemic started.
It’s important find the platforms your audiences are on, which depends on the demographics you’re targeting; you’re more likely to find Gen Z and younger millennials on Snapchat and TikTok, whereas older adults spend their social time on Facebook and Instagram. Several new platforms and features have recently gained popularity, including TikTok, Twitch, IG Reels and Snapchat Sounds, and Reddit has also become a useful marketing tool to help you engage directly with your audiences.
Try experimenting with different types of content and platforms, while always keeping in mind where your audience is likely to be and what they will find useful and valuable.
Tip 5: Revisit and solidify your brand.
When used effectively, a cohesive brand can help inspire brand loyalty — which, according to Retail Dive, is becoming even more valuable to businesses as 75% of consumers have started shopping alternative brands during the pandemic. So, it’s important to take this time to really think about how your brand should look, engage and sound. Consider conducting a full-scale brand audit that takes into account your existing visual and written language and helps to answer the following questions:
- Is your current brand helping to support your overall business goals?
- Does your brand truly resonate with your intended audiences?
- Are your consumers loyal to your brand, and why?
- Is it flexible enough to pivot in this uncertain climate, while still retaining your core identity?
- Does it represent who you are now? Could it still in a few years?
The results of your audit can help guide any needed edits and updates to your brand.
Take advantage of your 2020 hindsight.
Now that 2020 is almost behind us, it’s time to take all of the lessons we had to learn this year and put them to work to make 2021 a success. When you’re ready to create a full-scale marketing plan that allows you to start the new year on a confident note, our experts at 19 IDEAS are here to help you outline strategies and maximize ROI.