The best time to do your 2021 marketing planning is when you are setting your budget for the upcoming fiscal year. However, we recognize that not everyone has the time available amidst the holiday hustle and bustle to sit down and really reassess their business goals. So whether your fiscal year perfectly follows a calendar year or not, talking to your account manager in the fourth quarter of 2020 or quarter one of 2021 will help ensure you’re putting your best foot forward to maximize your resources and achieve your goals.

With what we can only hope to be the majority of a pandemic behind us, there’s never been a better time to decide what you want or need to achieve in the coming year. And with many unknowns still in play, we do have some advice on where to start: Prepare for the road that is in sight.

As cliche as it may be, the truth of the matter is that we really have entered into a “new normal” and, for better or worse, we do have some idea of what to expect in a 2021 pandemic landscape. We’re familiar with our state guidelines, industry requirements, and safety protocols, and we know what things look like for our business should lockdowns tighten.

“Hope for the best, prepare for the worst”
― Chris Bradford, The Ring of Earth

All that to say, the time for preparations is now. You’ll be hearing from our team soon to discuss how we can help your business reach it’s 2021 goals through our marketing services.

In the meantime, we have a 5-step process to help inform your business goal planning:

  1. Reflect on the previous year
  2. Establish your business goals for the year ahead
  3. Define Your Key Performance Metrics (KPIs)
  4. Determine Your Monthly Marketing Goals
  5. Make Your Making Plan!

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
― Abraham Lincoln

Reflect

“Why should we look to the past in order to prepare for the future? Because there is nowhere else to look.”
― James Burke, Connections

Many savvy business practices include post-mortems. Whether it’s on a project, event, campaign, or launch, post-mortems can offer valuable insight to areas of strength and weakness, and help us to spot cracks in our processes, highlight opportunities for growth, and reveal where we may better capitalize on strengths or opportunities.

So as we look backward at the intense year 2020 served us, let us truly reflect on what worked, and perhaps more importantly, what didn’t. Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for thinking on your toes and responding at your best to a scenario no one could have adequately prepared for. We may not have prepared for it this year, but we can certainly develop a game plan as we move into 2021.

Establish Your Business Goals

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.”
— Zig Ziglar

The most critical step in the planning process is to define your business goals… specifically SMART goals. SMART is a mnemonic that stands for Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. Every goal must meet these 5 criteria, so let’s walk through each one.

Specific – Target a specific area for improvement.

How many more leads? Exactly how much growth would you be happy with next year? How many more phone calls would you like to receive each month?

Measurable – Quantify or suggest an indicator of progress.

Your goals must be measurable so you know if you’re getting closer to achieving them. With digital marketing, you can use Google Analytics to measure many of your goals.

Assignable – Specify who will do it.

Not only does this ensure ownership from all team members, but it can also lead to an increase in employee empowerment, commitment, and overall job satisfaction.

Realistic – State what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.

It’s fun to set lofty goals and dream big, but make sure your milestones are achievable within the next year. Goals should excite and motivate you and your team year after year, not demoralize you.

Time-bound – Specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

Since we’re working on next year’s goals, the absolute deadline is the 31st of next December. Some goals can and should be completed sooner, so set the most appropriate date. It’s amazing how something as simple as setting a deadline can make all the difference in the world when it comes to accomplishing goals.

Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”
— Pablo Picasso

What realistic metrics can you attach to your SMART goals for 2021? To establish your marketing activities and measure of success, you will need to thoroughly assess the key performance indicators (KPIs) for your business.

What metrics can you attach to your SMART goals for 2021?

To generate $–/month or $—/year, then how many sales did you make? If your average customer value is $–, then that’s — sales/month. How many leads do you need in order to make that many sales?

Ex. If your sales conversion rate is 10%, then that’s 1,850 leads. How many website visitors do you need to generate 1,850 leads? We’ll need to look at your historical website analytics to figure this one out. If your visitor to lead conversion rate is also 10%, then you need 18,500 visitors per month.

We’re just working backward to determine the important online marketing KPIs? Now we know our monthly website visitor goal is about 16,700 in order to hit our sales goal of $1MM.

These figures are your key performance metrics.

Determine Monthly Marketing Goals

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
― Benjamin Franklin

Based on your KPIs, what goals can we set for your marketing efforts each month or for 2021 as a whole? Is it realistic for you to generate x-amount of website visitors using your traffic tactics? Are your conversion rates attainable based on historical data or that from similar businesses?

To answer the questions at this point, you’ll need to do some research and probably talk to your account manager. The most important question to answer is whether or not there is enough online traffic to hit your goals. For example, if you find using Google’s Keyword Planner Tool there are 100,000 searches for your product or service in Google, then could you get 16,000 visitors from SEO and Google Ads advertising?

16% of all searches may not sound like a lot, but keep in mind that a 2% click-through rate shows a fair amount of success in regard to Google Ads. Unless you’re an expert in search engine marketing (SEM), we recommend talking to someone who is to see if your goals are realistic. The same goes for other traffic sources like display advertising, email, partnerships, and social media.

If you find out your goals are actually unrealistic, then go back and revise them. Better to find this out now before you invest an entire year chasing an unattainable dream!

Make Your Marketing Plan!

“Some fish love to swim upstream. Some people love to overcome challenges.”
― Amit Ray, Walking the Path of Compassion

The final step should be fairly quick and easy because you have an awesome marketing agency behind you. *hint hint* Work with your Account Manager at Riverworks Marketing Group to determine the most effective monthly, quarterly or annual strategy to reach your marketing goals and in turn, your business goals for 2021! Determine who on your team is going to be responsible for implementing and measuring progress each month.

If you have big growth plans, then keep in mind it’s possible you’ll need to reassess in-house job functions or outsource more to ensure your business goals receive adequate attention.


As we ourselves come to close out the year, our biggest victory for Riverworks in 2020 is that all of our clients’ businesses are accounted for. In a year when many unfortunately can not share that same statement, we are blessed to end the year with every client, customer, and friend we started it with.

And while we know that we ourselves wouldn’t be here with you, we thank you for your continued business and support.