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December 7

Questions to Ask to Launch Your 2021 Marketing Strategy – Even in the Pandemic

Starting to emerge is a more hopeful tone for the end of the pandemic, as both Pfizer and Moderna have applied for U.S. FDA authorization of their respective COVID-19 vaccines. Of course, a vaccine strategy doesn’t mean our collective memory about the pandemic’s shockwaves is quickly a thing of the past. On all fronts, the world has changed. Consumers spend differently, workplaces function differently, and the ways individuals seek connection or entertainment have made a total 180 in a relatively short amount of time. In short, new habits have formed.

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For most of us, COVID-19 has been the pivot of a lifetime. The thing that defines the rest. Though it’s not an all-good or an all-bad situation, it’s certainly one that carries over into how companies now conduct business. “Being human” is exactly where it’s at during this dumpster fire of a year, and that applies to marketing, too.

Razor-sharp planning and SMART goal-setting (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) from just a year ago now seems like a bygone era for many companies. Even if the pandemic hasn’t significantly affected your operations, it has affected everyone your company interfaces with on a human level – and that impacts marketing.

It’s a good time to gear up for the next chapter in the COVID-19 saga. We believe the days of huge, reactionary operational shifts are behind us, at least for the present-day crisis. Does your marketing strategy need a revision, too? Asking yourself a series of questions will help you determine your company’s best bet for staying relevant in a post-pandemic new normal.

First question:
What does recovery mean to my company?

It’s a generally accepted truth that we won’t just go back to how things used to be. Like other large-scale crises, our reference points are now going to be “pre” and “post.” Pre-9/11. Pre-Katrina. Post-2008. Post-2020. In a post-pandemic world, where do you plan to steer your company?

Even if the financial goals and milestones your company began the year with became sidetracked with reaction and survival, it’s time to go through that exercise again. What’s your end-of-2021 desired state? Take stock of where you lost this past year, where you unexpectedly gained, and how you – finally – let invention and fresh thinking reign over change aversion. What do you know about the same among your competitive set? Mapping the gains and the losses, both inside your company and with insight into others, will help you prepare for a proactive 2021.

Importantly, did you make operational changes this year? As examples, did you begin or cease certain products, develop different ways to deliver customer service, or identify a new customer type? If so, what are the steps that have been laid out to communicate those clearly internally and externally? Do you see a valuable path between these changes and your EOY ’21 desired state?

Second question:
Has my company done a marketing health check-up in the midst of the pandemic?

Nearly every expert agrees that marketing in 2020 should have taken a tone of empathy, connectiveness, and bringing out the best in people. This past year has been a gigantic human experience shared by all. Some people have lost a lot. Most people faced new anxieties and suddenly complex new realities. No one was spared the process of going through change. So, if your marketing messages haven’t adapted to these times, what are you waiting for?

Examine your outreach and engagement efforts of the past year, while understanding that prospect relationships forged now may not immediately pay off in terms of new revenue. Did you offer value? Did you put customers’ needs first, before you took up precious space with your benefits and features? Did you sound like an empathetic human and not a faceless entity? Where did it all get you?

According to Social Media Today, time spent in apps is up 20% compared to last year. And data from McKinsey show that 73% of U.S. consumers have changed their shopping behavior due to the pandemic, with a high degree of intention to adopt those behaviors for the long term. In what way did your company authentically gain a share of voice in these shifts? 

Third question:
What’s next?  

The future is paved with strategy. Setting a strategy means making certain choices while declining other options. That’s why it’s important to begin with where you are now. Research and data collection are your best friends in setting a post-pandemic marketing strategy that will resonate. Only this way will you find levers you should pull harder – and the paths you should leave in the post-pandemic dust.

Marketing teams often benefit from objective analysis and an outside perspective. Agencies are particularly beneficial around the strategy-setting time. If you’d like to discuss the questions to answer that are best for your specific company as we move into 2021 and, hopefully, a post-pandemic world, just reach out to us. We’d be happy to help you write your next chapter.

Lori Turner-Wilson is founder and CEO of RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy. A fast-growing agency of seasoned professionals, RedRover is the only Memphis agency to integrate sales training with marketing strategic planning and execution. RedRover has a uniquely intense focus on achieving measurable results for its clientele, as the only Memphis area agency to offer its clients a results guarantee. The agency’s diverse client roster represents nearly every industry vertical in greater Memphis.

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