Advice: It’s not too late to plan for 2021 and beyond

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

With lockdowns and Covid taking up so much of our brain space, it’s often hard to think about forward planning, but that’s just what you should be doing, according to Doug Dinwiddie, MD of Darlington-based web development experts, White Digital.

“Let’s be honest, we all know we should have done our 2021 business and marketing strategies by now,” says Doug.

“But if you are a bit late to the party or are constantly pivoting your plans due to the forever-changing landscape of Covid, then don’t worry. Having a late plan is better than having no plan at all!”

Businesses generally fall into one of two camps – those who have done really well and are looking to invest more heavily while the times are good and those who are not doing so well and need to revise their strategies to turn things around.

There’s also a third camp – those who think everything is going to plan so they will just carry on as they are.

“To these people I would say ‘Think again’,“ says Doug. “It’s important to stay ahead of the competition. The market changes so quickly, as we have seen in 2020, and it’s not over yet. Standing still is not an option, so future planning or having multiple plans is essential.”

Planning now, even in a January which is still so unsettled, is actually a good time.

“Most of us have started back at work raring to go, passionate about our businesses and what we can achieve this year,” continues Doug.

“Now is the time to pull all that energy into focus and take some action, while you have the momentum.

“Try a marketing plan, a budget, a set of creatives for your latest product launch. Also try reviewing your data, including your google ratings, looking at how your website performed in 2020, brainstorming and reviewing the marketing calendar

“Whatever you decide, use some simple tools, ask yourself some key questions to work through your ideas and get them down on paper. You could also think about the impact your 2021 plans could have on 2022, to get ahead of the game.

“Using the data across channels, map out where you can continue ‘business as usual’, and where you need to make changes, ramp up budget and activity and pull back on non-effective campaigns.”

When it comes to reviewing your company, Doug suggests asking the following questions: what trends did you see in 2020 and can you take any learnings from those? How did you pivot and change your plans when you hit a curve ball? What was your biggest success and your biggest challenge?

He adds: “Also ask yourself what key dates, promotional periods and services do you want to promote or maximise on this year and what lead time do you need in order to deliver on those?

“Has your target audience changed? Who are your competitors? Have any new ones come into the market? Have any disappeared or are struggling?

“What marketing channels and platforms have worked well for you and what do you want to test this year? What was your marketing spend and return on your KPIs and, finally, what does the budget need to look like for this year and what contingencies need to be in place?

“Above all, be brave and innovative with your plans.”