Begin with the End in Mind (or – How the Heck Do I Plan for 2021?)

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Each year around this time, individuals from all levels of an organization gather to discuss the goals and budgets for the year ahead. For many who hunkered down to do this last fall, it’s almost laughable to think how the significant planning was quickly laid to the wayside in the first quarter of 2020. Travel was minimized, tradeshows/conferences were canceled, and networking was almost completely non-existent.

Yet, crises can sometimes force us to learn new – and perhaps better ongoing – capabilities to connect with our audiences. Schools went remote and learned how to better interact with students and parents, healthcare organizations learned quickly how to engage with their patients through their telehealth programs, and banks and credit unions were able to secure confidence with customers through new software such as Personal Teller Machines.

I certainly don’t have a crystal ball for 2021 (if I did, I likely wouldn’t be writing this blog) but I believe there are strong lessons to be learned as we look into marketing efforts in the year ahead.

Prioritize your people.

While customers are your audience and, obviously, extremely important to your bottom line, your employees are your assets. Provide the appropriate tools for your employees, but more importantly, support them and instill in them the culture you want them to exude. For example, in healthcare marketing, a telehealth app can connect you with a provider, but only the person on the other end can make the patient feel valued and heard which is key indicator of becoming/remaining a patient and referring others. Chartwell offers numerous training sessions –in person and virtually – to assist you in your internal culture cultivation efforts.

Focus on a few.

Your organization cannot be everything to everyone. If 2021 even slightly resembles 2020, then you need to lean into your strengths and let go – at least for now – the outlying areas your business has “dabbled” in. This can be difficult, especially for the C-suite who sees challenging times ahead and any/all income is welcome. Identify the areas for which you are known and most well-respected. Don’t know what those are? Implement a brief and informative survey of current and past clients to gain insight. For example, in financial marketing are you known for consumer loans or commercial lending? Spend a bit of time to determine which of your products or projects are most profitable and try to leave the rest in the dust – at least for 2021.

Lean into the lessons.

As much as this year has brought unpredictable changes, so too has it brought on new mindsets and opportunities for conducting business. Can you save costs by traveling less but connecting more via video conferencing and/or other technology with your customers across the country or around the world? Can you expand your digital marketing efforts and/or market your products/services via your website as more eyeballs are on the screen more than ever before? If a local business, can you find ways to better interact with customers to shop in your region?

If we know anything from this year, we know that hindsight really is 2020. But take this year’s crumbled up marketing roadmap and make 2021 a destination more in your control.