Creating a marketing plan for next year sounds ridiculous. After all, we created all sorts of plans for 2020, and those all went out of the window in March.
Still, it’s worth trying to plan your marketing for next year. You want to continue earning money. And if your business isn’t growing, you’re no doubt hoping to at least keep going until things improve. Here are our suggestions for creating your marketing plan.
Why Review Your Marketing Plan?
First, why bother? Well, it’s smart business to at least create some sketch of what you’ll do to keep going. We realize planning the entire year is impossible, so it’s OK to focus only on the first quarter. Plus, after so many changes this year, you’ll need to assess what you’re doing and whether it’s working.
What to Consider
As you’re getting started on this, here are some things to consider:
- Changes in the Marketplace: The economy has changed, and your business may have pivoted. How does that affect how you will market next year?
- Creating Human Connections: We’re all online, but we’re craving human connections. Are you finding ways to do that through your messaging? Do you have text, chat, or Facebook messenger set up? People use those channels more and more, and not just young people who don’t like using the phone.
- Online and Delivered – Everything is online more than ever, and experts say some of those habits are here to stay.
- The Economy: Not only have you possibly pivoted, but some consumers are focusing their dollars on the essentials as they struggle to find work. Value is critical.
- B2B Changes: For B2Bs, your audience is working remotely. How has that changed their buying behavior and process? Is the sales cycle longer?
- Less Brand Loyalty: Our search for online, convenient, and hygienic has led to many consumers abandoning their brands. Loyalty doesn’t matter when things are all up in the air. Does that impact your customer base?
Who is Your Customer?
A report from McKinsey puts consumers into five groups at the moment.
- Affluent and unaffected: Stable and earning more than $100,000 a year.
- Uprooted and underemployed: Job insecure and spending cautiously.
- Financially secure but anxious: Mostly over 65 with a great need for hygiene transparency.
- Out trying to make ends meet: Essential workers, lower-income, focused on surviving and basic needs.
- Disconnected and retired: Lower-income than the financially secure but least likely to have made changes.
It’s critical to consider whether your customers are the same or if they have changed. If your customer is an essential working just trying to survive, he or she has focused on the basic needs and getting by. He or she will view your product or service through that lens.
Current Marketing: What’s Working?
The next step in creating your 2021 plan is to examine your current marketing. You might go back and look at your early 2020 data or even 2019 and compare it to the rest of this year. Look at the following to help determine what marketing strategies you want to continue:
- Google Analytics: Are your website visitors increasing or decreasing? If you have a shopping cart system, are consumers following through or stopping at some point in the buying process? Which pages do they visit most and least?
- Sales Reports: You can break these down in so many ways, depending on your business. Study them and look for the patterns.
- Lifetime Value of Customer: Many people don’t determine this, but it’s critical to know what one customer is worth to you. That way, you can gauge how much to spend on marketing or advertising.
- ROI of Ad Campaigns: If you don’t know, time to reconsider how you advertise!
- Source of Customers: Your website analytics and social media are good sources for this information. But if you have a front desk or any other in-person interaction, train your staff to ask, “How did you hear about us?” If you have intake forms, include that on the paperwork.
Creating Your 2021 Plan
Again, if the whole year is too daunting at this point, focus on the first quarter. Here are the steps to create your plan.
- Set your goals. Your goal depends on your type of business and you. It might be a sales goal, or it’s target revenue. Maybe it’s some other figure. But set a goal of some kind so you can figure out if you’re making any progress.
- Review your marketing. Examine what worked before, as mentioned above.
- Consider your target audience: Has it changed? Does your consumer fit into one of those five groups?
- Rethink your messaging. Based on your consumer, do you need to change your messaging? Maybe you need to focus on the value or the low cost of your product or service. Perhaps hygienic transparency is critical.
- Set a marketing budget. You won’t find the money just hiding somewhere. Yet, many businesses don’t have a line item for marketing. Here’s how to create one.
- Choose your channels, combining new and old. You now have a list of marketing efforts you want to continue. What new ones will you try? We strongly recommend Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising to target your online audience. We also recommend making sure your website is easy to navigate and provides an easy shopping experience if applicable. Add a chat function or set up other text communication channels as well.
- Write it down. You’ve heard of SMART goals, I’m sure. You don’t have to get in the weeds with this, but write an outline of this plan down. “We’re going to increase our revenues by 10 percent by March 31. To do that, we’re going to do X, Y, and Z.”
Questions? Contact us for help with your marketing plan or hire us to help with your marketing.