Rethinking your strategic planning for 2021

How to change your approach to strategic planning in this rapidly changing business environment.

Someone recently asked me if I was planning a trip this year. I traveled regularly for work and leisure but spent 2020 in the country. I answer: ‘I do not even know what will happen tomorrow, let alone in six months.

I want to see myself relaxing here on a tropical island as I celebrate my 50th birthday this year. But the reality is that although we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, the situation is just as unpredictable as ever.

In previous reports, the fluidity of data, changes in consumer behavior, the need for flexibility in targeting and marketing. The need still exists. As we approach the month of 2021, marketers are asking me, “What else should I do this year?”

My honest answer is that I do not even know what I am going to do tomorrow, let alone the rest of the year. But that does not mean you have to stop your strategic process. Maybe I do not know exactly what will happen in 2021, because we still have many unknowns, but one thing will not change: you need to work on your strategy (the ‘why’) before using the tactic (the ‘how’). ))). It is important to follow this format so as not to waste money on things that do not work.

In other words, we can still plan, but we must change the way we plan. So let’s talk about what strategic planning will look like in 2021.

How far should you plan?

In other years we were able to compile a complete 12-month calendar. Spend the planning day this year to divide the year in half (call it half H1 and H2) and think about what you want to do in each half. Divide them all into quarters if that helps. This has another advantage: it forces you to limit your vision and focus your energy.

My friend David Baker, who was my boss when we worked in the big data industry, asked me about my year plan. “Be simple,” he said. “So, 20 things?” I said.

“No,” he replied. “One or two.”

“I cannot go to my EPP and tell him I only have one or two plans for the first half of the year,” I reply.

“Yes, you can,” David replied. “Everything out there is just a dream. You’re very confused. Better to spend 100% of your energy on one or two things than on 10 or 20 things of 50% or less. It’s better to spend 100% of your spend. You spend energy. “Spend your energy on one or two things. Energy in one or two things”.

Your H1 action plan

List your strategies, share your schedule in your automation and promotions for each period. Then list one of the things you can do with each term. It should be a realistic goal based on what you can do and what will add the most value.

With a larger marketing team, you can deepen your ideas and choose what is realistic, achievable, and profitable. If you have a smaller team, focus on one thing and do it in the first few quarters of the first quarter.

You will think this is not enough, but it is realistic. It also gives you time to avoid interruptions. This year offers flexible changes and this approach offers you the opportunity to face the changes.

Concentrate on why you are going to run these programs or tests. Why are you interested in subscribers or customers? The valuable step in the strategic part is to set goals first and then see how you are going to achieve them.

In the H1 Action Plan, you want strategies that have the biggest impact on your customers and your business. So choose wisely.

Your H2 action plan

Here you can dream a little. There is a lot of talks that it will be able to return to “normal” this summer and autumn when half of the two-thirds of the population will be vaccinated.

This time, think about what you want to achieve in the second half. Divide it into two parts, but this time check a part of “Best Case” and the other part of “Worst Case”.

“The best thing” is to get your business back on track (I don’t like to say “new”). You can expect to invest more in your marketing budget. You can set bigger goals and hope to achieve them. You can expect the holidays and high season planning to work as normal. This is a representation of what a normal annual plan would look like.

“Worse” means that H2 is comparable to H1. If so, think about your needs. Think about what to do and what to do to get bandwidth. If you are an electronics store/retailer, much of your planning will focus on the vacation.

I see many companies making different models specific to different scenarios or signals. The design for the best case, but come back for the worst case.

This year – 2021 – is about overcoming, using what you learned in 2020, and building on what you already have. Refine the basics of your program. This should be reflected in your strategy.

Packaging: take a moment

If like many of the marketers I work with, you’re disconnected today. Consistent thinking and strategic planning can be difficult to achieve if you cannot concentrate on the job. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do that.

Perhaps you should have done crazy maneuvers last year when the pandemic and economic and social difficulties destroyed your carefully crafted plans. But “doing what works” is not sustainable in the long run.

If you’re having trouble, get off the busy sidewalk of the day and find a quiet time to focus. Save time on your calendar and turn off text messages and notifications. Rest a little. You need that moment of silence to be able to judge where you are and think about the future. If you can connect with your team in person, don’t do it on the spot, not on Zoom.

We need to be marketers who come first in development, rather than reactive marketers. I know marketers at both ends of the preparation spectrum. Some make plans, others panic.

The most common path to success for all of us is to have a plan and treat it as the smart document it should be.

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