December 15, 2020 feels like a late date to be posting thoughts on how to create your marketing budget for 2021. But with the economists and numbers people projecting so many different models for economic recovery (like these), creating ODEA’s own marketing budget before now left me feeling like half fortune teller and half contortionist. So, if like me you’ve got planning and budgeting on the rinse-and-repeat cycle, here are three tips for your next round of updates.
Highs and Lows
ODEA’s 2021 marketing budget could legitimately be called bi-polar. When I’m feeling optimistic – let’s hear it for the “V-shaped” recovery! – our budget includes a significant increase in our marketing spend next year, especially as we launch BOLDbiz. Catch me on a sour day? Our marketing budget is as flat as a pancake. Note that even my worst marketing budget for 2021 is flat, not a reduction. It sounds self-serving for me to say it, but I will: Marketing during tough times is more important than during good times and can be more impactful by gaining a higher share of voice as your competition goes quiet.
Our budget has two tabs, best case and worse case, and I’m seeing us ending up executing to a spot somewhere between the two throughout the year. Obviously, as a small biz with many of our costs internal, it is easier for ODEA to be nimble and ramp up or pull back each month versus a large company that typically secures ad space or commits to a large tradeshow early in the year. But we foresee there being more flexibility for everyone this year. Just about every marketing provider we work with is loosening requirements around pre-paying or obligations to get discounts or savings. So, talk with your reps as you put together your plan, and check in often as we expect they’ll be making deals throughout 2021.
Plan A. Plan B. Heck, Plan Z!
Where are we putting ODEA’s marketing budget? Content, content, content of course! Working on our own 2021 content calendar is a great “week-between-Christmas-and-New-Year-while-in-your-PJs” project. We will also be adding more ways for sharing all that content, including sponsored posts on LinkedIn and more presentations and speaking gigs. But even as we work to organize our year, we have no illusions that planning will truly stop any time soon. Just as we know we will be adjusting our marketing budget, we know we’ll be planning again and again and again, each time a live conference goes virtual or the meeting gets postponed – again! So, make sure to put a date and a version on your plan – and don’t even tempt fate by marking it FINAL!! We foresee marketing planning for 2021 being a year-long event!
It’s Okay to Look Back
2020 will go down as the year of digital marketing KPI and analytics wins. Email opens, web visits, time on social media and other metrics increased as buyers spent more time online and researching. But for many businesses, those marketing wins didn’t translate to sales. There was a lot of kicking of the proverbial tires in 2020 but for many industries, not as much buying. Yet!
Many of us concentrated on taking care of current customers and clients in 2020. As one of our clients said back in March, “It’s gonna be up to small biz to take care of small biz.” Current clients should always be a priority but there is no doubt we will all be looking to re-ignite new biz efforts in 2021. As you look to connect the dots between marketing and sales, don’t neglect the data from 2020. Sales cycles likely lengthened, buying decisions took longer, and things that were a “necessity” last February were bumped from budgets in March when new “COVID necessities” reshuffled the deck. When trying to understand the buyer’s journey to see what is working and what’s not in your marketing budget, plan to look all the way back to early 2020 to get the entire picture.