Resetting 2020 Marketing Plans Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

August 14, 2020by Hiebing

Remember that 2020 marketing plan you created? It wasn’t perfect, but it was smart. Your priorities were validated by data and aligned with company goals, and your KPIs were crystal clear.

While you couldn’t afford every single thing on your wish list, your budget was going to allow you to seize opportunities that had been missed in previous years – plus, it also had enough built-in flexibility for taking advantage of some real-time opportunities that could come up along the way.

It was beautiful.

Then along came the coronavirus, and suddenly, nearly everything changed.

Work environments moved from commercial to residential spaces. Customer behaviors and needs shifted. Economic concerns began bubbling up. Marketing budgets dwindled or evaporated altogether. And yet, amid all these changes, the marketer’s role has remained the same – to drive awareness and sales and find new ways forward regardless of resource restrictions and countless unknowns.

Since March, marketers have been scrambling to adjust their marketing plans based on the roles their brands are playing in customers’ lives during the ever-evolving COVID-era. Although it’s essential to consider the bigger picture when marketing during a pandemic, we believe the best way to determine a path forward is to dig into what’s provable and what’s possible.

These two buckets make it easier to dial in focus and quickly identify what past wins can fuel future successes while looking for possible opportunities.

Some “What’s Provable” considerations:

  • What business objectives are realistic for the rest of 2020 and 2021?
  • What existing tactics and touchpoints are best suited to drive the desired results in this current environment?
  • What types of creative have performed best historically and are still applicable?

Some “What’s Possible” Considerations:

  • What business objectives can be achieved if you execute well – and if the market conditions continue to evolve in ways that are favorable for your brand’s growth?
  • What new tactics and touchpoints would be effective for generating sales in this moment, e.g., media placements, email marketing or podcasts?
  • What calculated creative risks could you take that could help you outperform your goals?

Those questions are a great starting point for marketers looking to seize any and all relevant opportunities as they close out 2020 and kick off 2021 – and reset their marketing plans to meet the customers where they are in this moment.

Below are four additional strategies to help you use what’s provable and what’s possible to make the most of the months ahead.

Strategy Rationale Provable Possible
Maximize the upcoming “reopening” windows for late summer and fall. It’s best to pull forward as many sales as you can due to predictions of a second wave of COVID infections during flu season and potential for holiday closures. What products and services from 2019 are still relevant in 2020?

How can you promote those through campaigns, LTOs and more?

What products and services have more potential relevance in a COVID world?

How might you pivot to shine more light on those?

Invest in tools that help you streamline and grow your products and services for online ordering, delivery and curbside pickup. For some categories, investments in technology can help minimize revenue shortfalls of future shutdowns. What tech platforms are working well and could be augmented?

What consumer feedback can you implement now to increase the effectiveness of your technology?

Are there potential technology partnerships or integrations that could further improve your existing tools and services?
Find ways to express empathy for your target audience. The longer the pandemic goes on, the more important it will be to go beyond messages of support and unity.

While remaining true to your  brand, creative must evolve to suit the moment – while addressing your customers’ desires for laughter, learning, improvement and making a positive impact.

What cause-related initiatives have been impactful in the past? Are those relevant now, and if so, how can you bring them back today?

What customer service issues have you helped customers solve in the past?

Are there FAQs you could address to enhance your customer service – and offer some additional customer support during these stressful times?


What can your brand uniquely do to support your community in this time – and how can you invite customers to participate in that experience?

What value can you bring to your audience beyond purchase of your product/service?

Are there how-to tips and resources to share or reminders that could be helpful (e.g., forms or videos)?

Keep putting out a steady stream of content. Fresh content that informs, inspires and entertains helps you expand your reach and win over your target.

Now more than ever, consumers are more open to hearing from brands, underscoring the importance of introducing new content and fresh digital experiences.

What sales tools (brochures, one-sheets) are most requested?

What are the most asked questions from customers?

What website pages get the most visitation?

How can you build upon topics that are already resonating with your target?

What are some trending content topics for your industry that could spur compelling content?

What aren’t your competitors saying or doing that you could, and what gaps can you fill?

What opportunities do you have to demonstrate thought leadership for your category?

While planning the work and working the plan didn’t quite pan out for marketers in 2020 as it has in years past, exploring what’s provable and what’s possible helps brands serve and engage their target throughout the twists and turns of the pandemic.

Want to see the impact of the provable and possible for your brand?

Email Ted at to set up a call.

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