How To Build An Agile Marketing Plan For 2021

It’s not long until we get to roll over our calendars and given the events of the current year it’s a welcome change. With a vaccine on the horizon and a hopeful vision of a return to normalcy we go forward with cautious optimism into the new year. For marketers, that means making plans. We strategize and forecast what we want to achieve and build the programs and tactics required to support our efforts. However, regardless of the outlook 2021 still has a lot of unknowns, both in terms of what the macro environment will yield and what changes that occurred as a result of the pandemic have become permanent. That places a strong need for marketers to be agile in their actions and plans.

Here are the key ways to getting a marketing plan together that can both forward looking and nimble for the path ahead:

Redefine Your Objectives – it’s easy to copy and paste last year’s marketing objectives into your plan, but a lot has changed for them and you since you last wrote them. Your customers and market could be in a completely different place and looking at their worlds through different lenses. Make sure to look past your business objectives to the larger situation and incorporate what your customers want and need more directly into your goals than you ever had. Without that you may miss what they need in the new year and lose them in the process.

Embrace Flexibility – as marketers planned for 2020 it was more than likely a seamless process from the prior year. This year provides none of that comfort. With so much uncertainty still in our world it’s imperative that marketers build effective pivoting into their efforts. It’s often valuable to think about what is core/essential to building and growing your brand and then what may be items that fall outside the core that may need to change or adapt as external conditions demand.

Think Of Your Budget As A Pile – marketing team love to distribute money over several channels, making sure that all their proverbial lines are in the water for customers. In order to be agile in the coming year your budgets can’t necessarily be tied to functions or projects that may fall below the priority line. Think about all that budget that was tied to events this year. Money needs to be able to flow easily between efforts, funding the ones that are working and creating the most impact.

Don’t Stop Evolving – marketers are at their best when they are iterating and creativity and innovation can’t stop, especially now. Take time to think about new ways to engage customers, educate the market and ultimately grow the brand. People are interacting in new ways and taking in information at levels never before seen. Evolution in marketing has to be a going concern – otherwise you’re trailing instead of leading.

Make Sure Your Plan Can Act – efficient marketing execution is more important than ever. Budgets are tights and goals are stretched and it’s critical that your plans turn into action now more than ever. Being operationally sound in your programs and measurement will provide confidence in leadership that marketing is doing all they can to grow the business. Your plans have to go beyond theory and have a strong eye towards application and delivery.

It goes without saying that we are all looking forward to a new year, but with that new year comes opportunities and challenges that come anew. Marketers should embrace the planning process regardless of the unknowns and relish the chance to attack the market and make a difference in the exciting year ahead.