As a Marketing Leader, I’m Taking These 5 Actions to Thrive in 2021
2020 is a year unlike any other. As LiveIntent’s SVP of global marketing, I came in with a comprehensive plan, ready to execute. Then the pandemic hit, and like other marketing leaders, I threw the plan right out the window.
For example, in-person conferences and hosted events are a big part of how LiveIntent builds relationships and generate leads. That was gone. We went from office dynamics to working from home every day. We went from in-person events to virtual ones. We were asked to cut the budget but not goals or expectations.
I feel fortunate, from a marketing perspective, that the year has been a good one—all things considered. As of today, we are on pace to hit our demand gen goals and have increased marketplace awareness of emerging products. With that said, I have certainly learned a lot about myself as a marketing leader that I will carry forward.
As we prepare for 2021 and think through budget, headcount, and strategy, here are five areas top of mind for me.
This year reminded me of the importance of preparing for the unexpected. The fact of the matter is, we are still figuring out how remote work affects our ability as marketers. And we’re still dealing with new changes all the time.
A prime example was our 2020 hosted events plan. In years past, we used these events to network with customers and prospects, and showcase new product releases. Clearly, the pandemic impacted our ability to host these events.
Instead of turning away from them entirely, though, we launched a bi-weekly webinar series called “Real Time Banter” back in April. We talk to thought leaders from publishing and marketing, and invite listeners to ask questions live using the chat function.
As I work with our team to plan 2021, we will leave room each quarter for the unexpected.
Planning for more virtual events
Speaking of events, I firmly believe that all of 2021 will be virtual. We will not be committing any budget to events that are planned to be 100 percent in person.
With that said, we certainly don’t see the same ROI from virtual events. In our brainstorming and planning sessions, we are actively thinking through how to make up that gap while we continue to support the vital trade publications that put on these events in our industry. We view this as an opportunity to diversify our media spend by looking for platforms that help with awareness and inbound leads
Listening to customers more
It’s important to remember that our customers have also had an unsettling year. As they plan for 2021, there is a lot of uncertainty on their end. It’s always crucial to listen to your customers, but this should be magnified by 10x during an uncertain era. It’s the only way to stay in lock-step with customers to make sure we continue to build the products and provide the services they require.
Think tank sessions, customer surveys, and virtual discussions are a few effective ways to accomplish this. For example, we know that from surveying our publisher and advertiser clients about the impact that COVID has had on their business that:
- 73% of B2B marketers are increasing their investment in email.
- Almost 50% of publishers saw an increase in revenue from subscriptions and memberships.
Doubling down on content
As we think about 2021 going majority virtual, getting the right content into the hands of your customers and prospects at different stages of the marketing funnel becomes even more critical. Our plan is to double down on content marketing by increasing our staff and output. All marketing is digital now, which means content is a staple for product adoption, lead gen, SEO, thought leadership, social media, and more.
Along these lines, it’s important to consider the format in which the content gets delivered. Email has typically been our best content format. However, I’m excited to potentially test out some emerging formats like interactive research reports and animated explainers, as well as A/B testing the platforms we use to distribute the content.
Increasing organizational support
If you’re not following Mayur Gupta, you should. Mayur is one of the most thought-provoking marketers in our industry. He regularly engages the marketing community in conversations about the future of marketing and its impact on business. One of my favorite quotes he made is from a post about celebrating the impact of marketing, “..if the ‘Growth – Business – Measurable Impact – Insights – Analytics’ side of Marketing is what needs more VISIBILITY & AWARENESS, we need to tell those stories AS MUCH OR MORE”.
If your company is expected to grow year over year, then there needs to be infrastructural support for the marketing team. I want to ensure that every team member knows the marketing goals. They should know how the work they do contributes to every stage of the marketing funnel. And they should receive regular reports on the progress of everything going on.
We’ve dealt with so much change in 2020. But now that we’re more comfortable with being uncomfortable, we can put ourselves in a great position to succeed next year, regardless of what happens.