Setting Your Sights on 2020: How to Brew a Forward-Thinking Marketing Strategy

The high-pressure marketing budget and strategy planning season seems to kick-off earlier each year. It’s as if your boss is asking you to magically construct the perfect strategic and tactical mix at the right budget for 2020, without having enough of 2019 under your belt to predict the best approach. After all, you don’t know what the future holds, right? 

As they say, hindsight is 20/20. So, why not leverage that to get some 20/20 foresight?

Like you, we at TopRank Marketing don’t have any magical crystal balls or employees with psychic powers. We don’t use witchcraft to brew mystical marketing love potions. And we certainly don’t engage in any sorcery with enchanted mirrors, but we’ve honed our craft over nearly 20 years and we do find plenty of value in reflecting.

Just a mystic or a wizard or an enchantress gathers their crystals, herbs, or sacred artifacts, you too have transcendent tools available to you. Read on to learn how you can cast your spell, summon your marketing spirit, or connect with marketing’s natural elements to create a strategic 2020 marketing plan—without relying on the supernatural.

Research: The Magic Ingredient for Concocting Any Marketing Strategy

As a marketer you don’t know what you don’t know. And, that’s okay. Clairvoyance is not part of the job description. Begin your brew with some thoughtful research.

  • Keep up with the latest trends. Is there a new tactic or strategy you should be testing?
  • Read case studies from other B2B businesses. What’s working for them?
  • Re-research your audience. Are your assumptions correct? What has changed since last year? What hasn’t? 
  • Bonus. Learn like polymath Bill Gates and the likes, by dedicating 5+ hours per week to learning. Polymaths lead in their field by becoming competent in at least three diverse domains and integrating learnings into their current skill set.

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Now that you’re tuned up, use your knowledge to spark new ideas, strengthen your plan recommendations, and back up your recommendations with solid rationales.

Data: Unlocking Insight to Season Your Potion

Every wizard, witch, psychic, or gifted mystic has had to spend a great deal of time to unlock the power inside themselves, you too must devote time to understand one of your most powerful tools: data. Anyone can come up with a striking idea, but it takes a special marketer to use data and unlock the insights within. Try this approach to uncover what you need to know to inform your marketing plan:

Gather the Data and Dive In

Leverage your tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to pull data from all of your tactics in the past year, including campaigns and ongoing programs.  You can also gather audience data and benchmarks from the research you’ve been doing. 

Don’t be afraid to spend a little time diving down rabbit-holes. At this annual reflection point, what better time to dig into an unnoticed trend or insight?

Don’t be afraid to spend a little time diving down rabbit-holes. At this annual reflection point, what better time to dig into an unnoticed trend or insight? – @ElizabethW1057 on 2020 #MarketingStrategy Click To Tweet

Confirm Your Benchmarks

Look across your data to establish benchmarks fit to your brand that will be valuable in informing your decisions. Again, feel free to check out industry benchmarks, but remember your brand is a unique situation. For instance, are you a startup looking to create a demand for a new niche? Or are you an established enterprise looking to increase market share?

Unlock the Insights

Now it’s time to turn that data into something you can use. Look for trends, outliers, big successes and big failures. Each one can teach you something and guide your 2020 plan to be more strategic. 

Here’s a simple example of how you can go from data, to benchmark, to insight, to 2020 tactics:

  1. In your latest campaign, you saw 2,652 sessions to your asset 90-days post-launch.
  2. Across your last 4 campaigns, you’ve averaged 2,002 sessions to your asset 90-days post-launch. 
  3. Nice! Your latest campaign drove 32% higher sessions. But why?
  4. You used email as an additional promotional tactic this time. And, email accounted for 27% of your total sessions.
  5. Let’s use email in all of our campaigns that target this audience, and explore a more robust, ongoing email program.
  6. Bonus: 75% of your influencers amplified your asset, driving 22% of the total campaign traffic. But, did they have enough reach, with the right people, to make it worth it? Were there other benefits of including influencers? To understand the impact of your influencer work better, add researching new measurement techniques to your “to do” list.

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Yes, there are many more metrics, variables, and considerations than simply number of visitors or a single promotional tactic, but you can leverage this approach to unlock some actionable insights from your data. Harness the positive vibes you uncover to inform your marketing plan, and bring your findings to the table to back up your recommendations.

Partners: Adding Natural Elements to Bind the Brew

Now, it’s time to combine elements for a comprehensive strategy.

Stay Grounded: The Earth Element

To enable your success, you must stay grounded. It can be easy to go heads down in planning after one quick conversation, but avoid the temptation. There is nothing worse than presenting a complete marketing plan to a room full of confused faces because you missed the core objective or are suggesting using a new tactic that just failed in another business unit.

Chat with your budget stakeholders early and often about:

  • Are we aligned on the objective of my work in relation to the company’s business goals?
  • What are you looking for me to achieve in 2020?
  • Do you have any marketing strategies or tactics in mind that I should be considering? Or avoiding?
  • What does my 2020 budget look like?
  • Are you expecting any cuts? (Budget prioritization tips here)
  • What have senior leadership or other BUs been talking about that I should be aware of?

When you go into 2020 planning mode, stay grounded by circling the wagons with stakeholders early and often. @ElizabethW1057 #MarketingStrategy Click To Tweet

Seek Collaboration: The Water Element

The water element governs relationships, and it changes shape based on whatever vessel contains it. Use the people around you to gather and mold your ideas this planning season. 

The information you gather from your internal teams can be an unmatched input for keyword research. It can also guide your influencer research, inform your tactical mix, or simply spark new ideas or ways of looking at problems.

  • Your customer service team can tell you all the questions customers are asking about your product or service — what drives customers nuts and what they rave about.
  • Your sales team will know every detail about what makes a customer want to buy versus what stands in the way of a sale. They also probably have competitive insights on the marketplace and know who influences their prospects. Just ask them!
  • Your product team probably briefs with you ever so often, but have you talked to them lately? There might be a feature or benefit that you’ve yet to focus on, or not highlighted enough. With the insights you’ve gotten from customer service and sales, you’ll know just what to do with the product info.
  • Though often difficult to get in front of, your senior leadership will have invaluable insights into the company’s direction. Keep up on any content they’re publishing or sharing on social. And, when you get the opportunity to connect, be prepared with thoughtful questions and discussion points.

Get Transformative: Fire Element

Transformation, passion, and action are the domain of the fire element. Your marketing agency should embody this completely. 

Every fruitful client-agency partnership is rooted in a collaborative passion and drive for your success. So, who better to ask for help on your 2020 marketing plan?

Your agency should have its finger on the pulse of the latest marketing strategies, tactics, and measurement techniques. And, it should be a consultative partner, giving you what you need to make the case for your 2020 budget. Tap your agency for anything from an informal brainstorm to proposing new ideas and tactics, and from campaign extension ideas to full collaboration on your entire plan. 

Seek Reflection: Wind Element

The final element is wind or air. Air is sometimes a harsh element. It cuts away the nonsense and gets us right down to the facts. This is where your plan comes together and you begin to shine. 

Collect everything you’ve researched, studied and gathered, and reflect. Wipe away your emotions and what you feel like you should do. Give new ideas space to grow and be molded by your data and what you learned communing with your teams. 

Unleash Your Mystical Marketing Strategy Planning Abilities

You started making your magic marketing potion with research, filled it to the top with data and sprinkled in all of the world’s natural elements. Now, the power is in your hands. 

You’re ready to concoct your 2020 marketing plan. Don’t hesitate to check back in with your team while you brew. Gather their feedback and refine, because collaboration is how the magic happens. 

Would an agency partner be helpful for your 2020 planning? We’d love to help. Get in touch today.

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