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  • Gina Michnowicz

How to Create a Future-Proof 2021 Marketing Strategy

It’s been a whirlwind year full of pivots for marketers, stopping and starting paid media to pay homage to the Black Lives Matter movement as well as adjusting everything from messaging to event formats due to the pandemic.

With all the changes in the world, it can be hard to focus on your marketing plan or to know how to adjust. But as the year winds down, I encourage you to step back and look at how to garner momentum from the changes and successes of this year. The rewards for marketers who strategize thoughtfully and intelligently are still there. Don’t miss the opportunity to up your game.

Feeling stuck? Weighed down by the obstacles in front of us? Let me share a few tips to help you optimize your marketing strategy in 2021.

Analyze your data—then be ruthless.

Look at your data and understand what’s working and what isn’t. If you have faith in the quality of your data, be ruthless at cutting anything that doesn’t serve your objectives. Embrace the mantra “less is more.” This has the added benefit of freeing up resources—your time, your budget—so you can up-level what you keep.

We like to look at programs as a whole on driving sales. We also like to look for what customers found most intriguing by way of engagement at events or digitally. (I consider digital to include email and social media.)

An added bonus of analyzing your data? It can also uncover issues with tracking and attributions. For example, one of our client’s programs was seeing tens of thousands of site visits yet no conversions. Before discontinuing that program, the client needs to look into their attributions, as the numbers simply don’t make sense.

Analyze competitor efforts.

It’s always a good idea to check on what your competitors are up to. This includes looking at what channels they’re on, their messaging, their content, and so on. This will give you a better sense of where they’re focusing, so you can decide if you want to go head to head or focus on something more true to your core. It also helps you clarify how to differentiate yourself.

Connect at a human level.

When brands showed their human sides in 2020, they thrived. This is something that you should keep up even when the world goes back to some sort of normalcy. Make sure you tap into your customer personas and psychographics while remembering that customers are human beings. They respond to human connections, to being entertained, inspired, and pleasantly surprised.

Connecting on a deeper level does require a well-thought-out plan that pulls the customer along and rewards responses. You can use your customer journey to map touchpoints by tactic, highlighting the best opportunities for magical moments.

Think digital-first.

Digital-first strategies have been important for a long time, but this year has made it crucial for survival. The amount of transformation you need to do will be aligned with how much you’ve already done.

Some tactics that include in-person elements may still work, but to create the biggest and longest-lasting impacts for your business, you should be thinking about what will make a splash on digital as well.

Hold a workshop—and make it interactive.

Collaborating with people in different areas of expertise and with different perspectives can lead to a much stronger strategy. You may want to hold an interactive workshop with a select group of key stakeholders, ranging from subject matter experts to social mavens.

It can be a good idea to do this twice: once at the start of your planning to gain crucial insights from their individual perspectives, then again when you’ve come up with a preliminary strategy to further define your north star and gain cross-functional alignment. With one client, we conducted interviews first to garner the key insights that helped us build the initial content strategy. Then, after we developed the strategy, we met in person to break it down and build it back up, incorporating creative exercises that engaged everyone. We came out of the workshop with a true north star that we aligned our strategy and future content to.


We know this past year has been rough for many marketers...for all of us, really. If you’re stuck, we hope this advice inspires you to take a fresh look at how to build your marketing plan. There are still so many possibilities for the future. It’s time to break through—and receive your just rewards.

Need a little help getting started? Just reach out. We have a Craftsman methodology for inventive marketers that is fun, inspiring, and effective.


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