November 18th, 2020   /   Posted by Lydia Manchester   /   Category: Marketing Strategy

Our Poll Results Are In: Marketing Priorities & Implications for 2021


Originally posted on LinkedIn by Natalie Nathanson, Founder & CEO of Magnetude Consulting.

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Marketing planning looks a bit different for 2021 than it has in years past, and a lot of the companies are making changes in their strategies and priorities based on the realities of managing (and in many cases, thankfully still growing) their businesses through the pandemic. From a more volatile economic climate to major shifts in how sales pipeline is generated and deals are nurtured and closed, many of the CEOs in my network have revisited their business needs, approaches and growth goals—and with that, assessing the resources it will take them to get there.

The team at Magnetude wanted to learn a bit more about what was on business leaders’ minds, so we surveyed our network to get a sense of the top marketing priorities businesses have headed into the new year. The results are in, and we wanted to share a few implications on your 2021 marketing planning!

As the pandemic continues to impact the business landscape, our results show several focus areas that will continue through 2021.

So what does this mean? Here are three major takeaways:

1. Demand Generation (44%) is the #1 focus area for a lot of companies, which is not surprising these days, primarily due to the fear of the unknown and for many, the need to fill or refill pipelines in new or different ways. Even for companies who are continuing to grow or hold steady, there is a lack of trust in the economy—and a lack of trust that what worked before will continue to work.

At Magnetude, we opted not to rest on our laurels and assume that our historical patterns would continue serving us in 2019. While we’re very thankful that our inbound leads and referrals have continued to support our growth this year, we also piloted a number of new tactics in 2020, a few of which we’re now carrying forth into 2021 (along with some new efforts we’d like to try…we are marketers after all!)

For companies that didn’t have predictable, scalable lead generation in place previously, who likely felt this exacerbated this past year, the need to put these systems and plans in place is even greater now than before.

Digital demand gen certainly isn’t a new priority for companies, but shifts throughout the market have spurred an increased need for being smart and strategic regarding where and how to deploy digital lead gen campaigns. Here are a few points to consider:

  • Increased focus on digital demand gen overall has led to increased competition across top marketing tactics
  • Many market segments are experiencing shifting search and content consumption patterns—what worked before might no longer suffice
  • Large-scale adoption of digital events impacts many areas of the marketing landscape
  • Pressure on businesses throughout the supply chain can trickle down—for example, as publications lose revenue with ad spending decreases, it can be harder to get press coverage due to budget constraints from the publications

With all that has changed, the onus is on companies to get targeted and creative to truly break through the noise. It’s important to be smart about finding the white space—whether that means tighter targeting, more compelling messages and offers, piloting new go-to-market partnerships, and pursuing additional sales tactics. Some companies are also widening their focus and expanding their target market or offering to attract new opportunities.

Check out more resources on demand generation: 

2. Strategy & Positioning (31%) is a focus in a way it is has never been before. While some companies have simply had a bit more time on their hands to strategize, for many, the last 9+ months have presented a critical need for updating company positioning, messaging, targeting, and go-to-market plans. For those who haven’t, now is a good time to take a good hard look at your strategy to be sure you’re deploying your resources most efficiently and effectively…and not being afraid of shaking things up a bit to keep pace with the changing times.

When we look at shifting strategies, we typically consider (and often talk about) three levers to (re)evaluate:

  • Market: The industries, company profiles, and people you’re selling to, in line with market dynamics
  • Message: Your value proposition and how you talk about your offering in a clear, compelling and differentiating way
  • Mechanism: The tactics you use to reach your audience, e.g. digital ads, social media, public relations, partner co-marketing

We’ve seen a few interesting examples of messaging and strategy shifts over the last several months: examples include IT MSPs laser-focusing on their security offering expansion, tech dev shops building touchless systems for in-person experiences, software firms offering lighter versions of their offering at a reduced cost, or reallocating resources for a channel-heavy go-to-markets. In the long run, a bit of focused attention to strategy will go a long way towards success.

Check out more resources on strategy and positioning: 

3. Content Generation (19%) and Sales Enablement (7%) are top supporting strategies to attract new leads and drive sales. As with demand generation, there may be additional competition in the marketplace (particularly across digital channels), making mission-critical, hard hitting value props and strategic targeting that much more critical to help differentiate your company.

In this digital-first selling environment, content is at the heart of any marketing program, allowing you to position yourself as an expert and share important points about your market and your offering. Your audience is spending more time reading content, but there is also a lot more content out there for them to read—so to make an impact, your work has to be targeted, valuable, and engaging.

Sales enablement is another key strategic focus area, especially in today’s market. For better or worse, sales has become a bit less about relationships and a bit more about differentiating the company, offering, or how the company is going to market. Many reps have found themselves far out of their comfort zone, needing to adapt to remote selling environments and shifting their talk tracks or the types of companies they target. Effective sales enablement helps the sales team understand changes in the landscape to arm them with content and campaigns that help them tackle these shifts (as well as pulling their insights from the field back into these strategic decisions).

Check out more resources on content generation…

…and sales enablement:

 

We greatly appreciate everyone who took the time to let us know what’s on their mind, and we hope this has been valuable for your 2021 marketing plan. As always, if you’d like to talk through your strategy or simply get some new ideas on what’s working, we’re here to help! Please contact Magnetude if we can support you in any way.