Like everyone else, B2B marketers experienced a very different 2020 than originally planned. When the global pandemic hit, budgets were often cut and strategies thrown out the window, forcing marketers to rethink their approach and prepare for impact.
Many marketers expect a fresh start by 2021. However, Forrester predicts the companies will cut their marketing spend by up to $ 15 billion by the end of 2021. Therefore, marketers may be asked to compensate in 2020 while having less budget.
With budgets scrutinized, it’s more important than ever to maximize impact while spending less. Although 2020 tested our adaptability, many of us have shown the true value of the marketing role for executives and sales teams.
Because of this increased buy-in from internal stakeholders, 2021 offers marketers the opportunity to use what we learned in 2020 to optimize our strategy in the new year.
Set your strategy: Align internally with goals
When setting your budget, it’s important to tie marketing goals together with the overall goals of your company. Marketing programs should help your business achieve specific goals. It is therefore important that you create your strategic goals and subsequent budget in agreement with, and not be separated from, other departments.
The C-suite cares less about vanity metrics than about revenue and ROI. To ensure their support, you should consider their interests so that you can establish clear expectations of success that all can agree on.
When you set well-defined goals that align with the company’s overall goals, you’ll know exactly what your marketing team will be responsible for in 2021.
Making plans: Focus on three areas
Although the focus is most often on increasing sales, marketing goals vary significantly across companies. Beyond the initial alignment, I recommend focusing on three areas when setting plans and budgets for 2021.
1. Invest in your brand foundation
If your 2021 marketing goals are to increase awareness or generate leads, don’t skip the fundamental element: building your brand.
A well-defined branding strategy can help you not only better understand your unique value proposition and ideal customer profile, but also cement your mission statement, your values and your competitive differentiators.
Whether you want to start from scratch or build on what you already have, this period is an opportunity to evaluate the strength of your brand and create a plan for 2021 that will build your audience’s trust by building your worth communicate clearly and precisely.
Investing in areas such as audience personalities, strategic positioning, and branding will result in more conversions and revenue in the long run.
2. Don’t overlook operations and technology
Operations is an aspect of marketing that is easy to miss. However, marketers are responsible for tying ROI to marketing spend, making the martech stack and data cleansing basic areas of prioritization.
Improving personalization and delivering relevant, engaging news to audiences will be invaluable in 2021. To do this effectively, you need clean data and the right martech tools. Understanding what you already have in your toolkit will give you a better idea of what you need and what can be cut. Take some time to review your tools and analyze what works and what you can do differently.
Ultimately, an optimized tech stack should act as a system of integrated tools that you can use to determine which marketing tactics are really driving ROI. This allows you to focus your resources on the right strategies.
The ability to connect the dots between closed deals and marketing spend, as well as better understanding the buying journey through data, are critical to increasing ROI.
Once you’ve identified the tools you need, optimize your integrations so that you can leverage the technological opportunities to improve customer experience and maximize sales in the New Year.
3. Focus on channels with the greatest impact on ROI
The types of programs and campaigns you need to run in 2021 will largely depend on the goals you set.
It may be time to pan or move investments to make them more strategic with your goals. So, take a look at the channels you’ve invested in in the past and analyze the data from your tech stack to see which channels are producing your best results. This allows you to make data-driven decisions about allocating budget to the channels that have the greatest impact on ROI and determine whether it is worth making additional investments in low-performing channels.
When weighting your budget across your own, earned, and paid channels, keep in mind that not all channels make sense for each of your audience profiles and some may require different approaches and strategies.
Rather than thinly distributing your resources, invest in the places where your audience is most active to increase the potential return on investment.
Looking ahead: step back before you jump
2020 was a difficult year. If you take a step back to analyze, lay a foundation, and align your strategy before jumping headlong into 2021, it pays off.
While we can’t predict what will happen in 2021, we can use this year’s planning to reflect on what we have learned and then use data to invest our marketing dollars in the areas that will maximize our impact in the year ahead.