How do you create a marketing plan with so many unknowns?

For most companies, this time of year is prime budgeting time for the upcoming year. Companies must highlight their goals for the year while trying to predict what the next year will bring. This budgeting season is especially challenging due to the overwhelming uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and the U.S. economy. Either way, the show must go on, and budgets must be set. Here’s how to create a marketing plan for next year utilizing enough flexibility to achieve your goals.

#1 – Learn from the past

Before thinking about what you’ll do next year, take a look at what worked in 2020. To successfully create a marketing plan, you should be able to draw conclusions as to which strategies were successful and which were not. Use every resource available to you such as gross number of leads, clicks and impressions to plan for the upcoming year.

#2 – To create a marketing plan, set goals and be flexible

The first step to create a marketing plan for next year is defining what you want to achieve. Start with your revenue goals for the year and work backwards to define what that means in terms of new customer acquisition, customer retention, price increases, etc. After that, determine the marketing tactics that will help you achieve those goals. One thing we’ve learned this year is flexibility. We don’t know when in person events will resume, so make sure your plans include back up plans for when the unexpected comes up.

#3 – Don’t eliminate budgets entirely

In a lot of budget cuts, the marketing is the first to be slashed. One thing to remember is that cutting your marketing is just a short-term benefit that ends up creating more damage in the end. So instead of cutting, you need to be very strategic with your marketing plan. There’s no way to know what lies ahead for us in 2021, but it’s still possible to create a flexible marketing plan and budget that will help you reach your commercial goals.

Carolina Macedo, the author, is Project Coordinator of Marketing Keys.