The past year and half have kept marketers and communications professionals on their toes. We’ve used or heard the “pivot” word ad nauseam. From our vantage point, we’ve been impressed at the ways our clients and peers have adapted, and seemingly not missed a beat in reaching and engaging their audiences, even using new channels or avenues to do so.
But while the pandemic drags on, we’ve been sensing the collective feeling that ever shifting or open-ended plans are no longer comfortable or realistic. We’ve established some “new normals” and we’ve worn some paths that have now become familiar. We’re ready for some strategizing that will help us look more than a few steps ahead.
Most Decembers, the Bellmont Partners team dedicates a day to get off site, putting ourselves physically and mentally in a new creative space to do some big picture, blue-sky planning. Some of our best agency or client ideas have resulted from these offsites and serve us for years to come. This looked different going into 2020, as our team wasn’t gathering in person and in many ways, we were still taking life month by month or even week by week. This year, we’re re-committing to big picture, long-term planning, whether in person or virtually and encouraging clients to do the same as we head into the fourth quarter of 2021.
The following are some questions that can guide these discussions as you look to define your marketing and communications strategy for 2022:
- Your value: The world doesn’t look like it did in 2019, so how has this affected your positioning? Have certain products or services risen above the rest as more relevant? What’s your unique value to your stakeholders in light of what individuals and businesses need and want today? Is it time to refresh any messaging or branding?
- Your target market: Do certain categories of prospects now seem more viable? Have you had an increase in business within any industries or demographics? It will likely be worth evaluating your customer base and seeing if there are groups you could double down on reaching or engaging.
- Your communication strategy: You’ve likely (forgive us) pivoted some tactics in the past year and half. What’s working? What isn’t? What needs a permanent place in your budget mix? As the world has become more virtual, we’ve seen clients reallocate in-person events or travel budgets towards webinars, digital content marketing, media relations and more.
- The media you’re engaging with: The media landscape has changed over the past year and a half as well…Have you done your homework and kept your pulse on what your target media is writing about and interested in these days, kept your contact lists updated, asked how you can support their editorial needs (reviewed editorial calendars) and revised your pitching strategy accordingly? Planning season is a great time for that.
- The stories you have to tell: On a similar note, what stories are yet to be told from your company? Consider what vantage points you can be leading from – the customer, data or trends from within your company, various departments or subject matter experts? Think about what stories rise to the top and how you can create an integrated plan to tell these on multiple platforms – through earned, owned or paid media.
- Your team: Perhaps you’ve added or lost headcount, scaled up or down your budget and it’s time to reassess roles – who is doing what and how an agency could fit in. In early 2021, we shared some tips for how to make some of those decisions, including how agency relationships can be fluid and useful to fit your needs.
Wherever you’re at with your planning, we’d be happy to help and can bring a needed strategic lens or 3rd party perspective to ask the questions that will set you strong path for 2022. Even with uncertainty lingering in some aspects of life, we’re excited to help our clients and colleagues feel some pride in creating longer term, strategic plans that can offer stability, energy and excitement in the year ahead.