What Does Your 2021 Marketing Plan Look Like?

Tom Dempster

Tom Dempster

With 2020 drawing to a close (at last!), thoughts should already be turning to your marketing plan for next year. 

In this article, we’ll outline the importance of a marketing plan, in addition to some potential targets for your business to aim for.

And just like that, December is upon us. The year which saw murder hornets, missing monoliths and global pandemics is finally coming to an end. If you – and your business – have made it to the end of 2020 unscathed, then congratulations!

If this year has reminded us of anything, it’s that nothing in life is certain; however, as 2020 reaches its conclusion, we can see some faint signs of normality in the distance. The prospect of vaccines in our fight against COVID-19 is likely to help our communities return to normal, and in turn, will be key in enabling many of our nation’s small businesses to survive and thrive.

If you own a small business – or are part of a team which is responsible for your organization’s marketing efforts – you need a solid marketing plan in place. The results of good marketing don’t just appear overnight. As with many aspects of business, it is vital to lay out all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle in advance, before putting them together to form an actual picture.

In this article, we’re going to look at the importance of getting those puzzle pieces together to give your business an advantage over your competition as we start afresh in 2021.

What is the purpose of your annual marketing plan?

In its simplest form, your annual plan should describe the marketing path your business intends to navigate over the next twelve months to achieve its goals. It should include specific targets which will define success for your marketing efforts. These targets should be challenging yet realistic.

It might be easy to assume that your wider goals might simply be ‘increased sales’ or ‘increased revenue’, and whilst sales and revenue targets do matter, they shouldn’t be the only target. This is because the bottom line is just that – the bottom line. There are inputs and variables which determine the final, financial results your business achieves – and those numbers on their own do not tell the entire story of your sales and marketing efforts. 

Think about it this way:

How do you increase revenue? There are several ways, but let’s use two popular methods – increasing product sales or acquiring new customers.

How do you increase product sales or acquire new customers? In a B2B environment, this is usually by generating more quality leads. 

How do you generate more quality leads? By conducting targeted SEO, PPC or other campaigns to send relevant traffic to your website.

This is why it is useful for your business to set targets further up the funnel. When you know the value of a lead to your business (along with other metrics), you’ll be able to work out approximately how many leads you’ll need to generate to achieve your revenue goals.

Your targets should be measurable. It isn’t particularly useful to set a target of ‘increase followers on social media’. Increase your followers by what percentage or amount? Which social media channels are you referring to? Base your targets on a) the information you have available for previous years, and b) the goals you have for your business going forward.

Targets or goals your business could adopt for 2021

As we said, your marketing targets don’t need to revolve around finances. There are other things you can target too, each of which serve a different purpose but will have the potential to improve your brand and further your goals.

You might consider adopting goals in one or more of the following areas:

Increase organic traffic

Traffic from search engines is frequently cited as the most targeted traffic your website can attract. Appearing at the top of search engine results for a relevant search term shows you are a trusted, authoritative source in your industry. Of course, because this traffic is so valuable, it can be competitive to appear in those first few search results – which is why a comprehensive SEO strategy can help you overcome your competition. 

Optimizing your existing content, making technical changes to your website’s infrastructure and creating fresh, high-quality blog content can all contribute to improving your site’s organic reach.

Example target: Increase your website’s organic traffic by x%, year-on-year.

graph showing increased organic traffic

Build brand awareness

This target involves expanding your marketing efforts to increase name recognition or brand authority. Increasing your target audience’s familiarity with your business means that they will be more likely to make a purchase. Content marketing campaigns or social media promotion are both common ways to build brand awareness.

Example target: Increase your Facebook page following by x%, year-on-year.

Create an effective Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising campaign

If you sell products online or run a B2B organization, this can be a useful way to advertise your products or generate new leads. If you have the budget, a targeted PPC campaign can increase traffic and revenue – but it does require careful management to ensure maximum RoI (a typical small business wastes 25% or more of their total ad spend). You may consider a PPC campaign on a search engine like Google or Bing, or through a social media platform like Facebook or LinkedIn. 

Example target: Generate x leads through a Google Ads campaign by the end of the calendar year.

Improve customer retention

Marketing isn’t just about acquiring new customers – it is just as important to retain your existing ones. This is particularly important in a B2B environment. Your business may adopt marketing strategies which appeal directly to existing clients. For example, you might introduce ways to improve your customer service processes, create educational programs to help them understand the service you provide, or launch a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program to show you care about the issues which matter to your customers. 

Example target: Increase customer retention levels to x% by the end of the calendar year.

Initiate a working partnership with businesses in your niche or local area

An integral part of marketing is relationship building. You might think this is strictly limited to building relationships with your customers, but many businesses can also benefit from building a working relationship with other organizations. For local businesses, this can elevate your brand’s presence and strengthen ties with your local community. Even larger businesses can benefit by partnering with businesses in your industry, creating the potential for cross-selling and providing services to complement one another’s offerings.

Example target: Create x working relationships with businesses in y area by the end of the calendar year.

Build a positive company culture

We’ve already espoused the benefits of a positive company culture, but it can also reap rewards for your marketing efforts. By featuring yourself and your employees in positive ways on your website and social media channels, it demonstrates that your company is a great place to work – and these companies typically deliver better products, higher levels of customer service and satisfied clientele. You could make a conscious effort to feature aspects of your company culture in blog articles or through your social platforms. 

Example target: Introduce monthly meetings at your workplace where staff are invited to discuss the positive and negative aspects of your company culture.

marketer producing marketing plan

One final thing about marketing plans

You might be overwhelmed by the idea of a marketing plan, which is why it’s important to caveat that marketing plans vary a lot from business to business. 

I’ve seen ‘plans’ consisting of a three line email, and I’ve seen plans that make War and Peace look like a tri-fold pamphlet. 

The sweet spot is somewhere in between. Three lines is not a marketing plan. On the other hand, investing time in writing hundreds of pages of detailed strategy – pages which may never be read by anyone except the author, and the majority of which will probably never be implemented – is not a good use of anyone’s time. 

In some cases, even a one-page marketing plan is sufficient. The simplest solution is often the best one. The important thing is to take the time to produce your plan in the first place. Consider your business goals. Work backwards and think about how to achieve them. Implement targets which will allow you to measure success.

In twelve months’ time, you’ll be able to look back at your targets and see how you performed. Armed with all the information you’ll have gathered over the previous year, you can use this performance data to set new targets for the following year. And the cycle continues.

So, if you do one marketing-related thing this month, make sure you produce your marketing plan for next year. I can assure you that your December 2021 self will thank your December 2020 self for completing it.

Do you need help compiling your 2021 marketing plan? There’s still time for True Boost Digital to help! If you’re unsure of your marketing goals – or if you’re running out of time to put a plan together – we’d love to see how we can help you. Contact us today!

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