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What a year it’s been. That might be putting it too mildly. 2020 has been a challenge in almost every conceivable way. On top of plenty of personal stresses and struggles, businesses of all sizes in almost every industry have seen shrinking revenue, layoffs, and general underperformance driven by the coronavirus pandemic.
If you’re anything like us, this has resulted in some serious pivoting for your business. Perhaps you’ve adjusted your sales strategies or product and service offerings. But you’ve almost certainly made some adjustments to your overall marketing strategy. Marketing teams across the globe have had to downsize budgets, pull campaigns, and venture into an entirely new marketing landscape.
But pivoting is one thing. Planning is another. As we approach the new year, you might be wondering: How in the world am I supposed to plan my marketing strategy for 2021?
There is still so much looming uncertainty in the upcoming year. How will stay-at-home orders be put into effect (or not)? How quickly will Covid vaccines be made available widely enough for something resembling “business as usual” to resume? Will revenues return to pre-pandemic levels? The number of uncertainties can make your head spin.
Whether or not you feel prepared for it, you still need to nail down your marketing strategy for 2021—as best as you can. And we’re here to help. We’re going to walk you through some considerations you should keep in mind as you plan your marketing campaigns for 2021.
Despite everything that has changed this past year, many things still haven’t. In fact, some of the most tried and true components of a comprehensive marketing strategy are more important than ever before. Keeping them in mind and taking advantage of their strengths in a pandemic landscape can help you maximize the effectiveness of your overall marketing plan.
In this day and age, digital isn’t an option. It’s a necessity. And the importance of digital was tested and proven in 2020, when in-person interactions and engagement was minimized. Gone are the days of conventions and brand activations. Instead, as people went out less and stayed home more—they found themselves online more than ever before. And thus, those with a robust digital marketing strategy were there to greet them.
In 2021, digital marketing should be a cornerstone of your strategy. For direct response geeks like us, we know the value it can bring to your marketing strategy. But in 2021, there is every reason to believe it will continue to offer advantages to those willing to invest in it. If you’ve never leaned on it before, then maybe it’s worth giving it a try. Or at least some heavy consideration.
Defining your brand, values, and message sometimes takes a backseat to other marketing priorities. But 2020 has shown that returning to this staple, reminding your customers (and potential customers) who you are and what you do, can always find a place in your marketing strategy. Remember in April and May when major brands in all industries stopped running television ads selling cars or soda and started running ads reminding viewers that we’re all in this together? They connected the moment to their values and their brand—instead of just going for a sale.
The dynamic may have changed since the late spring, but the mindset can serve you well going into 2021. As things slowly but surely open back up, redoubling your focus on brand and awareness campaigns can lay the groundwork for nearly any other campaign you choose to run. And that can put you in a position to capitalize later on.
We know you’re doing direct response marketing already. We know it! But we think it’s important to throw this on the list, because in 2020, many brands have pulled back their ad spends—when they shouldn’t have. And why is that? Because direct response marketing has been having a moment. Contracted budgets have driven CPMs down significantly across a range of industries, all while folks were spending more and more time online.
Some of those numbers have rebounded toward (or above!) their pre-pandemic levels. But not all. And if your budget was already being directed toward direct response ads, then this might be a good enough time to get more value out of your marketing dollars and run some direct response campaigns in Q1 & Q2 of 2021. Or, if you’re operating on a smaller budget than you were last year, perhaps you have a new opportunity. Maybe you can direct smaller portions of your budget (stretched further with lowered CPMs) to A/B test new messaging. Tinker now, and come out strong once things have normalized further.
We talk a lot about numbers here, because at the end of the day, they’re a key component of what we do. Numbers show which campaigns have succeeded, they represent new customers, they indicate leads. But right now, numbers are just a piece of what you’re working toward. Your marketing strategy is only as strong as the people behind it.
This has been a tough year, and as you’re planning ahead for 2021 and reflecting back on the year behind us, you may be tempted to look at the losses and feel deflated. So, consider this a gentle reminder to consider your wins. Count the pivots. Recognize the ways in which you and your team stepped up and made things happen. And shout them out publicly. In a year full of losses, a win means that much more.
2021 may end up proving just as challenging as 2020 for entirely different reasons. But at Green Candy Media, we’re choosing to view it as an opportunity to transform our marketing strategies and find new ways to define success. We know we’ll find successes—and failures—throughout the year. And you will, too.
But much like this year, we’re going to have to play the hand that we’ve been dealt. And that hand does mean unpredictability, changing course, pivoting, and reevaluating each and every campaign we devise. But in a way, that’s what should always go into a good marketing plan. So despite the uncertainty of business and life going into 2021, we hope you realize that you’re more prepared to roll with the punches than you may realize. Now, it’s time to go out and prove it.