How to perfect your marketing plan for 2021

With 2021 in full swing, it’s high time to put the final touches on your marketing plan for the year. Now while 2020 was certainly an anomaly for all of us – good or bad – we cannot let this keep us from pursuing our marketing goals for this year.

However, that’s easier said than done, so here are 8 steps that guide you in perfecting your marketing plan for 2021 (which of course work for any other time that you're perfecting your marketing plan).

Choose your battles

If last year has put your plans on hold, it does not mean that you should simply add them to your plans for this year. You have to make choices if you want to do something well; dividing your energy and resources over many different goals will only spread you thin. Your own business needs – and deserves – the very best of you.

So, put one main goal on top for the year – increasing lead acquisition by 20%, reducing churn by 40%, improving conversion rate, etc. – and put all the sub-goals underneath that. Alternatively, if you really want to achieve multiple goals this year, simply dedicate one quarter or half year to one goal, and then move on to the next one. This way, you can dedicate 100% to each individual goal without getting tempted to focus more on one or the other.

Prioritize your strengths

As entrepreneurs, we have a natural tendency to innovate. Beginning a startup is exactly that – the belief that your business idea can innovate something in the market. However, once you get your innovation going, it’s time to stick to your guns for a while.

This means that before you move on to the next marketing campaign, you first have to exhaust the current ones that are working for you! A 12% extra profit from your current marketing campaign beats the hell out of any potential profit that is not sure yet.

Cut, reduce, and minimize

Now while you should indeed prioritize and optimize what you already have when it comes to marketing tactics, you might be sticking to the familiar too much when it comes to software and subscriptions. Moreover, you may even be paying for something that you don’t even use anymore. Or, what is more often the case these days, is that there are now all-inclusive applications that can replace various software tools (and thus subscriptions) that you’ve been using so far.

So, have a look at all the software and tools that you’re using and see what you can cut or combine into one overarching system. Do not only look at the price here, because a full integration into 1 system such as Monday.com may save you enough time (and frustration) to make it worth potential extra costs.

Focus on your best customers

As part of effective color marketing, you have to focus on your best customers instead of trying to be everyone’s rainbow. These are the ones that buy your most profitable goods or services, or the ones who are most likely to keep coming back – or both. However, in order to go about this effectively, you have to identify their buying persona in more detail:

  • What does their regular life look like – work, free time, social, etc.?
  • What kind of challenges do they run into?
  • How are they looking for solutions to these challenges?

With these personas clearly defined in front of you, it is easier to draft and implement your strategy. Accordingly, your organization will “be” precisely there where your best customers are looking for a solution like yours – a match made in heaven.

Patience and flexibility

The previous 4 points all have to do with focus and commitment. This may not directly yield the results that you were hoping for, which may tempt you to reconsider. However, start with asking yourself for an honest answer: have you truly been patient enough to see the fruits of your endeavor already? If the answer is yes, then research first whether waiting it out or doubling down won’t be better before you actually alter your strategy.

Conversely, make sure that you maintain a flexible mindset. People are forever changing and so is the market. Sure cash cows of today may be reaching exhaustion by tomorrow. Moreover, there could be an opportunity at your doorstep tomorrow that’s worth going all in for! So, don’t invest too much in up-front deals, and keep your eyes wide open to be able to pick up on trends at the right time.

Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer

In order to get a first-mover advantage or to be the best in your niche, you have to be aware of what your competitors are doing. For example, research how their website is built, monitor their user traffic, see which keywords score well, and analyze their Facebook and Instagram advertisements.

If you want to get real close, you can also sign up for your competitor’s newsletter, fill in their Call-To-Actions, or even buy their product or order their service. This way you can experience your competitor’s communication firsthand, from which you can deduce the strategy behind it.

#Pro-tip: Not sure who your (main) competitors are? Simply ask your customers; it’s very likely that they went through a comparison process before ultimately choosing you.

Realism and feedback

After you went through the steps above, you’ll have a well-thought-out marketing strategy. But, is it realistic? Do you have the resources and access to the right people to achieve it? Aren’t your planned marketing investments entering into the domain of diminishing returns?

These are important questions to consider before you start implementing anything, regardless of it being a continuation of what you’re already doing.

Now you as creator of the marketing plan may feel more personal about it than the market accepts. So, make sure to ask for feedback, not just from peers but also from people with a different background and those who dare to disagree with you. What you do with the feedback is entirely up to you, but at least it grounds your decisions in a more comprehensive understanding.

Failure and success

What happens if your plan fails? If the answer is “not too much,” then you may want to ask yourself whether your plans are really worth it. Conversely, if the consequences are drastic, you may want to reconsider the analysis or realism of your plans, and adjust accordingly.

At least as important is your definition of success. How do you measure the success of your marketing plan? For this, you have to go back to the beginning – the goal(s) of your marketing plan.

Ultimately, your marketing investments have to translate into net profit, of course. However, since it is often hard to show a direct causality, make sure to break your net profit down into its various components in order to determine whether your plan indeed adds to any of these.

On a final note, honor your final marketing plan when you went through all the steps. For marketing resources to pay off, your strategy should lead your operations, not the other way around!