As the unpredictability rises with the “new normal” setting in, some marketers are finally able to pause, reflect, and plan for the upcoming year when hopefully all this ends.

The first half of 2020 created repercussions and negative impacts across businesses, leaving marketers with no choice other than working to find viable ways to support the rapidly evolving revenue goals and customer journeys.

While there is no way to establish what 2021 will look like, it’s a fair guess it won’t look like our pre-pandemic world.

Reestablishing a productive marketing function during a time of unprecedented economic and socio-cultural uncertainty is no small feat, but every marketing leader should now prepare for and meet 2021 with confidence, and well in advance.

Seek Optimization, Instead of Merely Focusing on Transformation

In today’s economic climate, the focus has shifted from digital transformation to optimization. Giants like Google have slashed their marketing operations by half, digital transformation initiatives have been currently paused or reimagined, and optimization has become the focus.

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Marketing optimization involves reviewing and reengineering, how marketing impacts the bottom and the top-line revenue.

Every CFO is looking for innovative ways to reduce wastage, and marketing leaders need to lead this trend by proactively eliminating underperforming or underutilized resources. Many marketers have an impressive technology stack that remains underutilized. Such untapped functionality can help multiply efficiency, capture a new market segment, and reach into new channels. Small tweaks can have huge impacts, and regular audits play a huge role in the process.

Be Familiar to Shifting Priorities

As organizations continue to absorb the aftershocks of the pandemic, marketers need to stay tuned to shifts in strategy that impacts varied marketing priorities. CMOs need to stay close to the broader executive team, the CEO, and the board of directors to understand and support the shifting challenges and priorities. Which business or product lines are performing poorly? Which market geographies or verticals are faltering? What new opportunities may emerge in the future? These considerations need to easily plug into the evolving marketing plans.

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Establish a Benchmark

Data-driven decisions are the most crucial skill for marketers who need to continually optimize their operations to identify new opportunities.

The first step to this is to establish a pre-COVID-19 benchmark based on the data points that predict, measure, and break down the sales pipeline. Another important step is to use that data to predict what’s likely to happen in the near future. Once the marketers have set targets, they can evaluate their performance regularly and proactively to identify and address the underperforming markets, channels, and approaches.

Prioritize Attribution

In the current crisis, marketers need to focus on establishing systems of revenue attribution. Marketing is mistakenly considered as a cost center, in large part, because the majority of marketers cannot claim ownership of the revenue they generate.

Given the predictions for a longer, U-shaped recovery, marketers need to fast-track all their efforts to establish systems of attribution capable of connecting at the early-stage. It could be likes, clicks, and visits to later-stage engagement and conversion metrics,  but ultimately, revenue. This provides marketers with an analytic framework to show them exactly which campaigns, channels, and market segments are most profitable.

Despite the excess of predictions, no one knows what 2021 is going to be like. But that doesn’t mean marketers can rest or slow down their efforts. In fact, multiple studies show that firms that continue to invest in marketing during economic downturns emerge stouter than their competitors. Marketers who use this crisis to realign, optimize and measure performance will be instrumental in leading their companies to their long-term success.