At this time of year, we’re all starting to plan our marketing strategy for the coming year. But this time, it feels a little different: Most marketers have found themselves in an entirely new position as they map out their marketing plans for 2021.
We’ve been thinking a lot about what insight we can gain from 2020 to help with 2021 planning. In this series, we’ll be offering ideas and tips to support you during the challenging planning process ahead. To kick off the series, let’s piece together some insights from 2020.
The biggest impact of the pandemic has been to all things live: trade shows, in-office meetings, educational events, sales meetings, and so on. Let’s evaluate a few key factors that impacting your marketing strategy both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before COVID-19 (January-February)
2020 Veterinary Trade Shows
Before COVID-19 became a widespread concern in the US, we had VMX, WVC, and a handful of smaller state-level veterinary trade shows.
When you look at the ROI of these shows, make sure you take into consideration that if your brand sells products with a longer sales cycle, you probably didn’t realize the full value of these events because COVID-19 stopped most sales conversations in their tracks.
Compare your show performance in 2020 to previous years to determine missed revenue.
The Planned Mix
Evaluate your planned mix for 2020. This should include the channels you were using for sales and marketing, your budget per channel, and your expected sales per channel. Once you have a roadmap of what was planned, you’ll be able to compare it to what actually happened.
It’s important that you know how much of your sales projections were tied to sales and marketing channels that disappeared or drastically changed in March.
List out all of the marketing tactics you planned to execute this year and place them in order of importance for your 2020 success.
What was the sales process before COVID-19? List out details such as sales cycle, lead source, and the tactical process by which the sale happened.
During COVID (March and Beyond)
Trade Shows and Events
Evaluate what you lost from your marketing strategy and sales goals in light of live event cancellation.
Did you pivot to virtual events (eg, in-house webinars, third-party webinars, virtual conferences)? Assess the ROI of the virtual events. You’ll need to understand the ROI of virtual platforms before you start your 2021 planning.
Costs were likely less, but sales were likely less, too. You’ll want to look at ROI so you can back into the number of virtual events you’ll need to fill the live event gap.
You’ll likely find that virtual events alone can’t plug the hole that losing live events has made in your previous plans.
Project what’s realistic and identify how much revenue you expect to lose from trade shows and events, and then take a look at other sales and marketing channels that can make up the difference.
The Planned Mix
In a column next to the 2020 planned mix, create the projected mix for 2021. It will likely look different. You may list higher investment in virtual tools for either educational delivery or sales enablement. This could include interactive animations to help your sales team virtually demonstrate products. It might also include a monthly webinar strategy to fill the hole of veterinary conference-centric education.
In a column next to your planned tactics for 2020 (organized by importance), reorganize the tactics to show what you’ll need to focus on for success in 2021.
How did COVID impact the sales process? Were there new tools or procedures that were made? Are there new tools that need to be made for 2021 to enable a new selling process?
Use these tools as a starting point to have initial discussions with your team about 2020 performance. Make sure you have high-level leadership, sales management, marketing, and field sales teams involved in these conversations.
Plus, be sure to include a cross section of representation from different geographic areas of the country. COVID-19 has impacted communities differently, and you’ll need to hear an assessment from many voices on your team in order to effectively look toward 2021.
Consider deploying a survey to your field representatives in advance of this evaluation meeting to bring field-level data from a larger group to the discussion.
We’ll have more guidance for you in the coming weeks. If you have a specific question about planning for 2021 that you’d like us to cover, get in touch! We’d love to hear from you.