2020 was one hell of a year, I think we can all agree on that! So much so Netflix had to go along and create an hour-long synopsis of the year in its Original “Death to 2020“. If you’ve not seen it, I highly recommend giving it a look, the dark humour is funny but also, it’s mind-blowing how much happened in one year. If nothing else, 2020 has taught us all that we need to be able to adapt and roll with the punches, whether that is in our professional or personal lives.
From a marketing and sale perspective, 2020 was a very interesting year. Marketers, and whole organisations, have been forced to face unprecedented events head-on. And there is a lot to be learnt from the successes and failures that happened through-out the year. Stuff you need to think about as your plan and prepare for you 2021 strategies.
1. Stay focused, stay resilient, but stay flexible.
This lesson comes way before 2020, but last year hammered it home for a lot working in marketing and sales.
It’s easy for us to get caught up doing things over and over because they’ve always been done, but unless they provide real value, you’ll want to focus your time elsewhere. 2020 taught us that we can quickly have the rug pulled from under us. And taking extra baggage is not an option.
Make sure as you plan your 2021 strategies and to-do’s so that you are focused on the things that will lead to genuine impacts. It’s also worth not planning too far into the future.
For a lot of larger marketing teams, it’s common to do 6, 12 months or even longer marketing strategies. This is not advised for 2021. Last year a lot of teams had their budgets and staff reduced at the last moment. This caused a lot of teams to re-evaluate their marketing plans to fit within these reduced capacities, whilst still delivering on the initiative that couldn’t be cancelled or paused. We suggest planning no more than 3 months at the moment. This will enable you to stay flexible as socio-economical changes happen, ultimately helping your marketing team to remain adaptable to last-minute changes.
2020 taught us we need a thick skin when it comes to last-minute changes. 2021 is going to be the year to put it into practice.
2. Stand by your values.
The core drivers in any brand are your purpose, your vision, your mission and your values. The last of which is most important at the moment.
Make sure you stick to the values that you have outlined. Doing so creates an air of genuinity around your business, something people are actively looking for at the moment.
2020 was a year that highlighted a collection of hot button societal issues, such as racial injustice, and it was brand’s who made a clear public stance with their marketing that stood out. The companies who led with their values are the ones who earned more respect and support from their respective communities, creating even stronger bonds across the board.
3. Honesty is the best policy
In any relationship trust is key. The best brands do everything they can to establish trust with their buyers, but you can’t cultivate or keep trust if you aren’t being honest – especially in a crisis. Coronavirus only made this more apparent.
During the initial outbreak, many brands found themselves in trouble over what they said publicly compared to what they did internally. For example, they said publicly they were supporting their essential workers, but then denied their own essential workers sick time or paid leave – ultimately causing the company to take a PR hit and for good reason.
Here’s the lesson: If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you don’t want to do something, don’t say you’re going to do it. Be honest, you’ll get more credibility for it.
4. Simplicity is key
The ups and downs of 2020 put a lot of things into perspective. Life is short, time is valuable and where you spend your time matters.
In terms of marketing, that means making sure you’re focused on things that will create the biggest impact. The truth is you can’t do everything, time won’t allow it. So, focus on serving the core needs of your buyer personas.
It’s also worth going back to basics. No, I don’t mean our amazing eGuide series that you can check out here, although that series will certainly help.
Go back to your marketing 101. Revisit your personas, update your strategy and make sure you are tracking the metrics that make an impact on your business.