How to Plan your 2021 Marketing Strategy

The Growth Report #37

Happy Friday!

Thanks again to all of you who filled out the survey.

Here are some of the findings:

  • 53% of you think the newsletter length is just right, 47% said it should be shorter and nobody thinks it should be longer (thank god!).

  • 75% of you like the weekly rhythm, the rest would prefer a bi-weekly publication.

  • The mix of sections and topics covered seems to strike a cord across the board. There is an interesting chasm between people wanting the resources section to expand further and a few of you who seem to get some FOMO-anxiety-guilt for not being able to read it all (sorry 😬).

  • As for new formats, most of you like just how it is (40%), and over 50% in total would like to see more short-form video- and audio content.

So I am already thinking about ways to keep the value the same while making it a bit shorter and adding new content formats in 2021 (probably in combination with the podcast).

And now let’s get rolling…


Today's topics include

📈 Marketing Strategy:
How to Plan your 2021 Marketing Strategy

⚒️ Tools of the Trade:
Educational Resources and Inspiration for Marketers

⛑️ Reflections from the Trenches:
Ask Who Not How


📈 Marketing Strategy

How to Plan Your 2021 Marketing Strategy

In most marketing departments this is the time of the year when a lot of strategy and budget planning for 2021 is going on.

One thing that tends to happen is that we make strategy planning exercises much bigger and more complicated than they need to be.

I fell into this trap myself over and over, because there is something about planning that makes you feel like you gotta present this big elaborate strategy and it needs to feel really legit and thought out to the last detail.

A saner way to create a marketing strategy

But I think there is another way of looking at it, that relieves some of that pressure. As we discussed a couple of weeks ago, the most important metric for marketing is its contribution to the overall revenue, if you make that the starting point of your marketing strategy it all becomes so much easier and clearer for your audience to comprehend. So let's start there.

  1. Define Company Goals: Get clear on your company’s overall revenue goal for next year. If you don't know ask your CEO or your CFO. e.g. grow by 50% from 10M to 15M.

  2. Define Marketings’ Contribution: Figure out, how marketing fits into that puzzle. How much is marketing supposed to contribute to that growth? What are all the leading indicators in marketing into revenue? e.g. Website traffic, free trials, leads, meetings, pipeline. It's usually one of those depending on your business model. Now calculate how much you would need to hit for each of those metrics in order to reach that revenue goal (or your expected share of it). e.g. Of the additional 5M, 2M need to come from marketing. 2M divided by 2k average order value means 1k new customers, and because you have a conversion rate of 10% from leads to customer, it means you need to generate 10k leads for sales.

  3. Plan out the Year: Third, calculate over 12 months how much traffic, how many leads, meetings or trial signups you would need to generate per month in addition to what your benchmark is from last year (look at the data from the last years and/or just take a good ol' guess). e.g. 10k leads over 12 months means approx. 830 leads per month. Let's say you already generate 600 leads per month today, so this means 230 leads per month need be acquired additionally.

  4. Factor in all special events: So then on top of that, map out all the special things that you already know are coming in 2021. e.g. Product launches, big virtual events etc. and attribute them to the month you are expecting those events to occur. E.g. The big virtual event in June will give us a 50% bump in sales meetings for that month. Now you can factor those in as well into the calculation from step 3 above.

  5. Figure out the channels and tactics to get there: Okay so now you have the monthly leads you need to hit and can plan how you will generate those additional leads across all the people and teams in your organization (if you are the only one that works too). Are you gonna do ads? Webinars? Partnerships? How many leads are you gonna generate with each of them? How much budget do you need for that? What else could move the needle? Those numbers will be mostly assumptions (if possible backed by historic data!).

  6. Break up the tactics and channel goals into OKRs for your team: And lastly, how can you break down each tactic and channel goal into achievable chunks for each member of your team.

Now obviously this gets much more complicated if you are in charge of generating upwards of 25-50M in revenue. But this approach of half-guess and half-data informed marketing planning has revenue (aka the company goal) as the starting point, which is half the rent when you try to sell your plan to anyone in the C-Suite.

Good luck and happy planning 🙌

PS: Re the picture in the header. Its from the new Netflix series Queen's Gambit. And yes, you should go watch it right now. ♟️


🛠️ Tools of the Trade:

Educational Resources and Inspiration for Marketers

Quote of the week:

People will do anything for those who:

• Encourage their dreams
• Justify their failures
• Allay their fears
• Confirm their suspicions
• And help throw rocks at their enemies

— Blair Warren

Marketing Education

  • Early Work - Another gem by Paul Graham: "One of the biggest things holding people back from doing great work is the fear of making something lame". This is so applicable to marketers!

  • Madflow - An incredible collection of beautiful websites made in Webflow. A great source of inspiration for you next web-project!

Brands and Products that caught my eye

  • ÖÖD - A tiny cabin made of glass that makes the perfect home office in your backyard.

  • Zen Work Pod - Well yes, another Work-From-Home office-pod. I went into a little rabbit hole of tiny house porn this week apparently ;-) They just look so damn sleek!

  • Outlier - The future of online education is looks close when I look at Outlier. It's the closest thing that I have seen to a legit online university.

Interesting reads


⛑️ Reflections From the Trenches

Ask Who Not How

As our marketing agency, as well as our product- and content operations at GrowthBay are growing, Kevin and I are increasingly faced with difficult questions of how we want to deal with new incoming opportunities and the increased workload.

The only way to escape the time-for-money trap that many agencies and freelancers face, is to look for levers that maximize the impact of every hour that we put into the business.

There are really only three leverage possibilities (hat tip to Naval):

  1. People - there a million people out there who already know how to accomplish what you are trying to achieve.

  2. Product - building a piece of software that has no marginal cost of replication.

  3. Media - three hours of writing a newsletter results in hundreds of people reading it.

And while we are working on a product, producing content with the newsletter and the podcast and are collaborating with people on pretty much every client project, it becomes harder now to juggle it all.

Don't Try To Do It All Yourself

AuthorBenjamin Hardy, hit the nail on the head:

"Whenever you imagine a bigger and better future, there’s a problem. You don’t currently know how to achieve the goal, because it’s bigger and better than your current situation and capabilities."

And if you are anything like me (or most people for that matter), the first thing you usually do when you imagine a bigger future is to ask yourself: “How do I achieve this goal?” Although this question seems intuitive, I came to realize that it’s actually a pretty bad question in the long-term (assuming you want to be happy and successful while not living in a constant state of anxiety).

Let People Help You

While reading the book Who Not How by aforementioned Benjamin Hardy, I have come to realize that there are many, many more opportunities to involve people in my life so that together we can solve each others How's that plague our dreams.

A much better (and saner) question to ask yourself is: “Who can help me achieve this?”

Think about it:

  • What would happen in your life if you asked this question about everything you wanted to accomplish?

  • What would happen if you asked this question about everything you’ve been procrastinating to do?

  • How would your goals change if you could find people—Whos—that could help you achieve everything you wanted in your life?

  • How would your confidence change if you had several Whos producing the results with you?

  • How would your time be spent if you were no longer the one doing everything?

  • How would your income change if you could achieve all your goals, and not just some of them?

Or in Hardy's words:

"When you’re trying to accomplish something challenging or difficult that you’ve never done before, you probably need a Who. Let me say that another way: You absolutely need a Who if you’re trying to accomplish something new and challenging, unless you’re fine not getting the result you want in the near future."

You just can't do it all by yourself. Of course you could try to figure out all the Hows yourself, but putting in all the hours to learn something that other people have already figured out (and that you actually don't enjoy doing) is not a particularly good use of your time.

No, your time is best used on the things that only you can do, or that you are uniquely capable of (or that you enjoy the shit out of at least).

So next time you are trying to figure out HOW to do something, maybe sit down with a piece of paper and instead make a list of all the people WHO could help you with what you are trying to achieve.

It’s an exhilarating exercise.


That's it for this week.

Enjoy your well-earned weekend 🏡

See you next week,

Sandro