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How to Create Your 2021 Digital Marketing Plan… When It’s Already 2021

January 6, 2021By Doug Thomas

Topics: Marketing Strategy

Oh no.

How did you let it happen again?

You got caught up in the holiday rush and just kept putting off making your 2021 digital marketing plan. Again. And it’s now well into January, and you haven’t put pen to paper to know how you’ll grow your business from your online efforts this year.

How are you going to get everything together for your marketing? How will you even start so you can quickly get your 2021 digital marketing started so you’re not behind like last year? How are you going to feel you you’ve got this, when you haven’t been keeping up on every little change with the Facebook algorithm and mobile-first websites, and… wasn’t there something about cookies?

It’s OK. With just 5 steps, you can take control of your marketing planning for 2021. Complete each step once a day, and you can develop your 2021 digital marketing plan in as little as a week!

Creating Your 2021 Digital Marketing Plan; Evaluate Your 2020 Performance

Step 1: Evaluate Your 2020 Performance 

The great part about waiting until the new year to start your plan is that you’ve got all the information from last year to know how your business fared.

In a tumultuous year like 2020, it’s doubly important to make sure you’ve got a handle on what you achieved. Many businesses use dashboards and reports from their marketing teams, tools, and partners that can really help them see the macro trends. But even if you don’t have those reports ready-made and on-hand, you can measure your success.

Ask yourself these three questions:

  • What were your 2020 marketing goals?
  • How many of those goals did you meet?
  • Did your revenue increase from 2019? Did you get more sales than 2019?

Once you measure your overall successes, you can start finding out why you succeeded where you did in 2020.

Creating Your 2021 Digital Marketing Plan; Take Inventory of your 2020 Marketing

Step 2: Take Inventory of Your 2020 Marketing

If you answered those three questions, you now know how your business did over 2020. It’s time to figure out how you got there. Before you can know what to do in 2021, you’ve got to know what you did in 2020.

2020 was a year where so many things had to change for most businesses. Customer behavior changed while both regulations and common sense interrupted and morphed your normal business functions. Your business was forced to do marketing that was unlike any other year.

To lay the groundwork to develop your strategy, find out the answers to these three questions:

  • What marketing initiatives have you always done?
  • What new ideas did you try in 2020? How much did it cost, in both time and money?
  • What marketing ideas did you learn about, but said “no” to?

You’ve now identified your marketing output and your marketing inputs for last year. It’s time to start using those inputs and outputs to find the “how” of your 2020 growth.

Creating Your Best Marketing Channels from 2020

Step 3: Find Your Best Marketing Channels from 2020

“Attribution” has been a buzzword in digital marketing circles for years now, stemming from an oft-misattributed century-old quote: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.”

While there are a ton of tools that can help shed light on what marketing initiatives weren’t wasted, you don’t need exact dollar amounts and ROI percentages to help you find out what worked. And in fact, those tools might confuse things even further because they all will disagree slightly.

So for your 2021 digital marketing planning, keep it simple.

Answer these questions and you’ll get close to knowing what really worked:

  • When did you try something new? Did sales increase after you started that initiative?
  • When did you stop something you always did? Did you see an impact from losing that source?
  • When something outside of your business change your revenue and sales? Would that impact future revenue growth?

While it won’t give you an exact ROAS for every channel, you can now tell what marketing initiatives drove real business impact.

Creating Your 2021 Digital Marketing Plan; Identify Your Growth Opportunities for 2021

Step 4: Identify Your Growth Opportunities for 2021

Just in 2020, new digital marketing platforms rose up: TikTok, Clubhouse, Triller, and Substack all rose to prominence this year. And established companies like NBC and Hulu made customer-friendly self-serve platforms.

Every business owner has to say “no” to some new projects. How do you figure out what is right for your 2021 digital marketing?

It’s not easy, but you’ve got help. There are three groups of people you can ask two questions each to make sure you’ve got a high-impact list of new ideas to grow your revenue and sales in 2021.

  • Yourself: You listed what you said “no” to last year.
    Why? What can you try this year?
  • Your customers: Your customers consume media on their own.
    Where do they hang out online? What of those media channels can you create something meaningful?
  • Your friends in business: Every business owner has a great network both in their field and in other businesses.
    What’s on their radar that’s got them excited? What are they seeing benefits from?

If you hear any overlap between the answers from these three groups, these are great candidates for growth opportunities for your 2021 digital marketing plan.

Creating Your 2021 Digital Marketing Plan; Create Your Digital Marketing Plan for 2021

Step 5: Create Your Digital Marketing Plan for 2021

Over the past few days, you’ve taken 4 big steps towards completing your 2021 digital marketing plan.

But now it’s the last, scary step. You’ve got to create the plan.

Every step before gives you the facts from 2020. But you need to answer for your business what that means for your 2021 digital marketing.

  • You know your status of meeting your 2020 goals.
    What goals do you have for 2021?
  • You know what marketing initiatives you accomplished in 2020.
    How do you want to change your overall investment in marketing for 2021?
  • You know which marketing strategies drove growth in 2020.
    What initiatives should you increase or decrease your investment in for 2021?
  • You know what growth opportunities for your marketing arose in 2020.
    What initiatives do you want to try that are entirely new for your business in 2021?

Now that you have not only the results from 2020 and a rough plan for 2021, it’s time to work with your marketing team and your marketing partners to expand on that plan to reach your goals.

Don’t Know Who to Turn To?

Even though this is just a week’s worth of work, it’s difficult to take that time as a business owner.

Develop Your 2021 Marketing Plan in 4 Steps; Figure Out How To Identify Your Goals; Define Your Marketing Investment; Make Changes To Your Marketing Mix; Start New Marketing Initiatives

Your time and your team’s time are valuable, and often you need a helping hand with some of the 4 parts of developing your 2021 digital marketing plan:

  • Figuring out how to identify goals.
  • Defining your marketing investment.
  • Making changes to your marketing mix.
  • And starting new marketing initiatives.

That’s where a trusted marketing partner like our team at Trailblaze Marketing can really come in handy. Get in touch with our digital marketing strategists today to create the 2021 digital marketing plan that will grow your business

Looking to leverage results-driven digital marketing for your business? Contact us today and let's get started!

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