Planning Your Marketing Calendar in an Unpredictable Year

Oh, no: You were supposed to have your marketing strategy outlined before January. 

It’s OK.

Most people are not where they planned on being, or where they usually are, so far this year.

Put the guilt aside, because on the bright side, this means you have even more knowledge and clarity with which to outline your calendar and lock in that strategy. But let’s get going so that you can still maximize the rest of Q1.

Here’s what you need to know when it feels like yet another year where it’s hard to know anything for certain:

Forget tying your plans to specific dates. 

Surely, you used to work backwards from a few “big events,” like preparing for a massive conference in September or the investor meeting in June. Those might not have happened last year or not carried the weight they used to—and now you’re not sure what to expect. Maybe you used to have biannual sales, and those just didn’t pan out last year and might not be worth centering your marketing plan on this year, either. You might not know when standard industry events are going to take place, or if they’re going to skip another year before returning in 2022.

Should you dispense half your budget, as usual, toward these key dates and goals, when you think people might still be stingy with their budget for the first half of the year as they wait to find out what the year holds for their futures?

It’s probably too soon to know what’s going on with a bunch of forthcoming events or the way people intend to invest or spend their money this year. But you can’t wait to find out to make your own decisions on behalf of your company. You need at least a springboard, a basic marketing plan that will steer your smartly through the year, something that is agile and can be tweaked as new information emerges.

In this case, our advice is to “go broad.” 

There are likely seasonal trends that will affect your industry no matter what; for example, people still bought gifts during the recent holiday season and we can bank on them spending more time outdoors this summer. These are just truisms that the pandemic’s outcomes can’t touch. The academic calendar has remained the same, as well. If your conferences and those “big events” do come back, they’re likely going to fall within the same period they usually do—and that will affect your industry as a whole, not just your company. 

Another important thing to note is that many sectors saw their numbers dip dramatically last year, but their overall pattern of spikes and dips from month to month often remained on-trend from 2019 (barring, perhaps, the initial crisis point of March-April). So you can likely still count on “having more” and “having less” or “high periods” and “low periods” around the same time.

If you can step back and look at the bigger picture, instead of tying yourself to specific numbers and dates, you can set yourself up with your most realistic and reliable marketing calendar for 2021.

For help critically analyzing your 2019-2020 YOY, determining how the pandemic has affected you, and then planning out how you should allocate marketing budget and resources for 2021, contact the experienced team at Mad 4 Marketing. 

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