What is marketing and what does it mean in 2021?

Yes, marketing can and always can take a bit of party planning and signage. It is part of the territory. But what makes marketing a strategic partner with your organization’s leaders is moving beyond these conversations to key questions and imperatives for your business success.

Let’s take a look at what I think are the key components of marketing in 2021.

1. Digital strategy first

Whether your business is B2B or B2C, your customers are likely to find you and interact with you digitally. But how do we change the ways we market in a digital environment to increase our lead generation?

The first place that many often look to is through a modern, better-optimized website. A client asked me the other day if the websites are already relevant. I answered yes, because while new media has come to connect consumers with brands, company websites remain the primary way that potential customers in your sales funnel learn about you and travel through your decision-making process. The better your website keeps them engaged, the more apt they will be to buy your product or service.


I also recommend focusing on a variety of digital activities, such as email automation, pay-per-click and landing page campaigns, and social media advertising. You may find that a different combination will suit you, but regardless of your industry, think critically about the intersection of your sales and marketing functions and how strategic digital marketing can efficiently capture leads for your sales team.

2. Holistic

Marketing cannot operate in a silo. For your marketing to be effective, which means doing activities that lead potential customers to become customers, your marketing team must be welcomed into your sales and operations. Marketers can tell a good story, if we know the story to tell. Train your marketing staff or teams to really understand the business so they can properly communicate your unique value proposition to potential customers.

For example, in my job at the law firm, this meant meeting with practice area leaders and attending practice group meetings regularly. He had a weekly habit of doing «rounds» to find out what the lawyers were working on, ask questions, and understand how they were communicating. This habit allowed me to delve into an industry that was foreign to me when I started and create messages that spoke to potential and current customers.

3. Goal oriented

Marketing is often criticized because it has historically been difficult to measure. Digital strategies have changed that because we have data to understand how our marketing efforts reach (or not) consumers. How we measure marketing, then, should be a function of the data available to us. Make sure your goals are tied to your overall business strategy and that there is one person in your organization who is responsible for meeting them.

As your business grows, you can search for more sophisticated marketing metrics. If you’re just jumping on the metering bandwagon, I suggest you start small with just a few metrics. You can also track contact forms and conversions on your website. Measure the open rate of your email. Be on the lookout for engagement and bounce rate.

At the end of the day, marketing is a strategic driver for new and returning customers. Can posters and parties bring that result? Yes. But only if you are also considering a goal-oriented, holistic, digital marketing approach.