December 11, 2020

This time of year always has us reflecting on the past year (remember Tiger King? Ah, early Pandemic days), and getting excited about what 2021 may bring. 2020 has made planning ahead essential, but with the uncertainty of our social climate, the ability to adapt is critical.

For example, raise your hand if you followed your plan to a T for 2020. .. No one? Yea, us either. This is a really good thing. Whether it was in our nature or not, we were forced to change based on external factors far beyond anyone's control. Some of our clients abandoned print entirely and took their first tentative steps into digital marketing, whereas others didn't do any advertising and solely worked on strengthening relationships and services with their existing customer base. Regardless of the route you may have taken, you've likely forged internal processes with your C-suite and board to help you tackle some new initiatives in 2021.

Speaking of 2021, yes, it's still absolutely essential that you create a plan for the upcoming year. However, we recommend you write that plan in pencil. Next year looks far more positive than 2020 ended up being, but with the pandemic still to play a major role, you may need to contend with branch closures and new customer communication channels.

If you're ready to start planning for 2021, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Stay goal-oriented
    • Remember, marketing is meant to drive the bottom line! For example, if your commercial lenders are struggling after PPP, allocate some dollars to help them via advertising, zoom events, or other community partnerships.
  • Don't forget your website
    • Your website continues to be your busiest branch, and with the search space only getting more competitive, you cannot afford to neglect it. Set aside some time for an SEO and/or ADA audit. If your site is more than 3 years old, it may be time for a new one.
  • Define success
    • For every campaign or effort, what does success look like? Defining it at the outset will help set expectations with your c-suite and board so they can better understand what you're trying to accomplish, and if you're lucky, they may even increase your budgets :).
  • Placeholder budgets
    • Work with your team and see if you can set aside buckets of dollars rather than have them tied to specific departments. For example, if you met with all departments but Retail gave you virtually no feedback, you know they'll be coming to you in June asking for something to help. Instead of not budgeting, have a bucket for Advertising, and break it out as needs arise throughout the year.

Planning can be stressful, especially with so many factors to consider, but it's essential to your institution's success - just make sure you put the pen away.