Lead Forensics

Don’t Be Spooked About Planning Your 2021 Marketing Strategy

Feeling spooked by uncertain times? Don’t let fear impact your marketing strategy for 2021.

Ghosts? You don’t believe in ‘em.

Vampires? Puh-lease.

A zombie would have to be walking directly towards you for you to interrupt a good snack.

But your marketing strategy for 2021? Terrifying. Your blood runs cold to even think about it.

It’s not that you don’t understand the value of analytics, content development and social media campaigns. It’s that nothing in your education, training or experience quite prepared you for the events of 2020. It may have you feeling a little spooked about planning for 2021.


Planning for 2021 doesn’t need to be scary. It doesn’t even need to be tentative. You can boldly go after growth in 2021 without a look behind you (Unless there’s a guy with a mask lurking around, that is. Then you should probably look).

Why should you invest without fear?

In one study after another, there’s a clear pattern showing that companies that invest in marketing strategies during a recession come out ahead in the long run. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, famously stated, “I was asked what I thought about the recession. I thought about it and decided not to take part.”

A review of the marketing investments of the Post and Kellogg companies during the Great Depression showed that Post cut their marketing, while Kellogg doubled their spend. Kellogg enjoyed a 30% increase in profits, positioning the company as the industry leader for decades.

In 1990-1991, McDonald’s cut their marketing budget. Taco Bell and Pizza Hut spotted the opportunity and initiated a growth campaign that allowed them to grow by 40% and 61%, respectively, while McDonald’s experienced a 28% sales decline.

It’s not just the big headline-grabbing companies that experience this effect. A Cornell University study found that companies that invest in their marketing strategies during an economic downturn experience improved growth over time.

Don’t be spooked by seeing your competitors pull back. It’s often when a gap is left in the market that a new leader is able to emerge.

Shaping Your Strategy, Minus the Scare Tactics. Now that you’re convinced that an investment is a smart move, how can you fearlessly shape your strategy? Take a look at two main questions you should be exploring as you develop your plans for 2021:

Get to Know Your Audience Now: In other words, learn what’s changed about your target market. Your typical audience may have shifted, with new members or a change in how they interact with your brand.

One important aspect of this is identifying the ways in which your audiences are consuming content. While it may seem like an obvious choice to shift more of your budget into digital formats for content distribution, for instance, you’ll need a strategy for standing out in the noise. Every company is shifting towards digital, so you need a unique approach.

You also need to think about how spending and budgets have changed in your target market. If you’re creating a B2B marketing strategy, you need to think about your audience in terms of three categories. Each company is either growing, simply surviving or making changes to adjust to new circumstances.

Learn What’s Working for You: While most companies are getting more comfortable with data informing their marketing decisions, make sure you’re working with up-to-date information. It’s more important than ever that you use timely analytics, because so much has changed in the last few months.

For instance, if you can reliably count on live events being your most effective means of connecting with potential buyers, with social media in second place, followed by email newsletters, there’s a good chance your distribution plan and budget should look different in 2021.

You may have also made some quick investments in virtual tools over the last few months that have made previously out-of-reach marketing channels now surprisingly cost-effective for your strategy.

What Should Be Your Focus in 2021? Your audience, no matter what industry you’re in, is weary. They may be even a little traumatized by the constant barrage of fear-inducing headlines, so keep this in mind as you plan your marketing strategy. It’s not a good time for an in-your-face fright fest.

So, what are your best bets when it comes to focusing in on a couple strategies for 2021?

Authenticity: Get real with your audience. Tell them what changes you’re making to help them during uncertain times. Get even more real and highlight something admirable your competitor has done to alleviate a crisis. Invite them to be real, too, with user-generated content, and showcase their words about your products.

Customization: It’s no longer working for brands to be faceless entities. Customers want to know their brands, and they want to be known by them. Tailor content and experiences to build relationships and help customers find what they want and need.

Get Visual: This is a good time to stand out on social media with live video, and it helps with your authenticity efforts at the same time. Offer a how-to lesson or get silly with an at-home challenge.

It’s hard not to be a little spooked when a pandemic triggers a recession. 2020 has been the stuff of a suspense-filled blockbuster, not what you expect of real life. And yet, you can and should plan a marketing strategy for 2021 without fear of the future. Contact us for strategy … hand-holding … walking into the creepy haunted house first. You name it, we’ll do it. Because we’re not afraid.

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