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6 steps to plan your 2021 marketing strategy

It’s that time of year again. Time to critically evaluate your marketing activity from the last 12 months and put together plans for the year ahead. For many businesses, 2020 marketing plans were largely ripped up and thrown out the window at the onset of Covid-19. Nevertheless, in this unique and uncertain economic environment, it’s time to reflect on the outcomes of activities completed and start looking at your marketing strategy and plans for 2021. We’ve already witnessed a fundamental shift in how companies approach their marketing, where priorities have switched from sales to retention, and new ways of communication have been adopted at speed to coordinate teams and reach customers.

Organisations which succeed take the time to regularly nurture marketing strategies and plan to build with purpose. An annual marketing plan sets you on the right course to make your business goals a reality. Think of it as a high-level plan that guides the direction of your team’s campaigns, goals, and growth.

To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together a list of what to include in your own marketing strategy for 2021.

1. Reflection 

To begin the planning process, you need to take stock of your current market position and look at the past year; what you achieved, what you didn’t, what worked well and what failed. With the acceleration into digital marketing triggered by the global lockdowns, 2020 has been a year of digital transformation for everyone, where interactive meetings have become the new norm and e-commerce transactions are reaching new heights.

B2B businesses should ask themselves a range of questions as they prepare for 2021 and call out some of the opportunities, where there is a need to deliver broader transformational change. Questions such as:

  • What’s changed in your target markets?
  • How have your current campaigns been performing?
  • How has the pandemic impacted your organisation as a whole?
  • What’s changed in your team and what are the implications?

Remember to keep the analysis accurate, try avoiding pre-conceived beliefs and take advantage of the huge amounts of data available online to research and benchmark against.

Download our Marketing Strategy Template available in Accelerate where we look in detail at the attributes required to build your own marketing plans.

2. Understand your market

Understanding your current customers, their specific needs, challenges, and how their organisations will adapt and change over the next year should be a starting point when defining your audience. Even if you have a clear idea of what your audience looks like, it’s a good idea to update your profiles due to the nature of 2020.

Market research

Unlocking new opportunities and evolving your offerings, plays a fundamental role in staying competitive. Market research should never be underestimated. Many successful new businesses enjoy longevity because they conduct regular market research to understand their target market, identify consumer problems and competitors. A great way to gain valuable insight is to speak to your own customers. A survey or social media poll will help you to understand customer pain points, challenges or simply uncover new opportunities.

Customer profiles

Consumers who find your product or service appealing often share similar characteristics, which will help you fine-tune your messaging throughout the customer journey. Creating customer profiles helps uncover those shared traits. This includes psychographic data about how the target customer behaves and essential information to help you identify your audience such as age, location gender, income and occupation.

3. Write SMART goals

SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound) increase your odds for success by verifying that the goals are achievable whilst identifying the metrics that define success. However, aligning your marketing goals to your overall business strategy is a critical part of the planning process, which is often overlooked. The fact of the matter is your marketing plan should never standalone – It should coexist in unison with your business’s strategic plan.

In order to write these goals, the marketing team should be involved in the operational planning process, the marketing team can then tie each initiative to the relevant objective to ensure resource and budget are allocated effectively. To make certain goals align, continually track progress with measurable and quantifiable results that are relevant to your overarching business objectives.

4. Tactics and actions

The tactics you write today will ultimately define the future of your business, so it’s important to make sure these actions reflect the current climate whilst working in unison with your marketing strategy.

As the majority of us endure a second lockdown it’s safe to say that COVID has already impacted on 2021 so your actions need to be realistic and err on the side of caution. For example, if you rely on face to face expos and events now is the time to reinvest that budget into technology which can deliver alternative virtual events or experiences. Or, if your website is lagging and failing to rank, now is the time to optimise your digital footprint and get your house in order.

With the rise of digital there is now a multitude of channels to reach and communicate with customers through, so make sure you do your research.

5. Set your budget

Before you can begin implementing any of your plans above, you will need to know the budget you have to play with, if you don’t then you might not be able to achieve your goals.

While you’re writing out your tactics, be sure to note an estimated budget. You can include the time it takes to complete each tactic in addition to the assets you might need to purchase.

6. Track results

Tracking is crucial for any marketing campaign. It does not matter whether you are launching a new product or simply driving brand awareness, tracking will show you which marketing vehicles are working, and which ones aren’t. It will help you in evaluating your marketing efforts and where you are spending your marketing budget. In the long run by tracking offline marketing efforts, you can begin to create a more cost-effective strategy that will get you the results you desire without wasting money.

Once you’ve developed your marketing strategy, you should continually evaluate and re-evaluate your business activities. As products, markets, customers and needs change rapidly, you must continually revisit these seven Ps to make sure you’re on track and achieving the maximum results possible.

Don’t forget to make use of the resources available to you

To help get you started with your own 2021 marketing strategy, we have created a template that can be accessed via the Gamma Portal. Simply go to >> Help & Support >> Gamma Accelerate >> Collateral and search ‘Marketing Strategy Template.’

Every Gamma Channel Partner has free access to Accelerate, our online partner marketing portal; a simple and secure platform that’s designed to make it easy for you to customise white-label marketing material, generate new leads and engage with prospects and customers.

To access Accelerate go to the Gamma Portal >> Help and Support >> Gamma Accelerate