3 min read

How to Plan Your 2021 Marketing Strategy

One thing that tends to happen is that we make strategy planning exercises much bigger and more complicated than they need to be.
How to Plan Your 2021 Marketing Strategy

In most marketing departments this is the time of the year when a lot of strategy and budget planning for 2022 is going on.

One thing that tends to happen is that we make strategy planning exercises much bigger and more complicated than they need to be.

I fell into this trap myself over and over, because there is something about planning that makes you feel like you gotta present this big elaborate strategy and it needs to feel really legit and thought out to the last detail.

A saner way to create a marketing strategy

But I think there is another way of looking at it, that relieves some of that pressure. As we discussed a couple of weeks ago, the most important metric for marketing is its contribution to the overall revenue, if you make that the starting point of your marketing strategy it all becomes so much easier and clearer for your audience to comprehend. So let's start there.

  1. Define Company Goals: Get clear on your company’s overall revenue goal for next year. If you don't know ask your CEO or your CFO. e.g. grow by 50% from 10M to 15M.
  2. Define Marketings’ Contribution: Figure out, how marketing fits into that puzzle. How much is marketing supposed to contribute to that growth? What are all the leading indicators in marketing into revenue? e.g. Website traffic, free trials, leads, meetings, pipeline. It's usually one of those depending on your business model. Now calculate how much you would need to hit for each of those metrics in order to reach that revenue goal (or your expected share of it). e.g. Of the additional 5M, 2M need to come from marketing. 2M divided by 2k average order value means 1k new customers, and because you have a conversion rate of 10% from leads to customer, it means you need to generate 10k leads for sales.
  3. Plan out the Year: Third, calculate over 12 months how much traffic, how many leads, meetings or trial signups you would need to generate per month in addition to what your benchmark is from last year (look at the data from the last years and/or just take a good ol' guess). e.g. 10k leads over 12 months means approx. 830 leads per month. Let's say you already generate 600 leads per month today, so this means 230 leads per month need be acquired additionally.
  4. Factor in all special events: So then on top of that, map out all the special things that you already know are coming in 2021. e.g. Product launches, big virtual events etc. and attribute them to the month you are expecting those events to occur. E.g. The big virtual event in June will give us a 50% bump in sales meetings for that month. Now you can factor those in as well into the calculation from step 3 above.
  5. Figure out the channels and tactics to get there: Okay so now you have the monthly leads you need to hit and can plan how you will generate those additional leads across all the people and teams in your organization (if you are the only one that works too). Are you gonna do ads? Webinars? Partnerships? How many leads are you gonna generate with each of them? How much budget do you need for that? What else could move the needle? Those numbers will be mostly assumptions (if possible backed by historic data!).
  6. Break up the tactics and channel goals into OKRs for your team: And lastly, how can you break down each tactic and channel goal into achievable chunks for each member of your team.

Now obviously this gets much more complicated if you are in charge of generating upwards of 25-50M in revenue. But this approach of half-guess and half-data informed marketing planning has revenue (aka the company goal) as the starting point, which is half the rent when you try to sell your plan to anyone in the C-Suite.

Good luck and happy planning 🙌

PS: Re the picture in the header. Its from the new Netflix series Queen's Gambit. And yes, you should go watch it right now. ♟️