For marketers, 2020 presented unprecedented challenges. For once in our careers, we had to throw out everything we thought we knew and reconstruct our thinking and processes to survive in the midst of a pandemic. The standard marketing strategies and tactics that may have typically only needed minor tweaks and optimizations in past years had to be changed significantly and, in some cases, completely pulled from the plan. The words “but we’ve always done it this way” were thrown out the window, forcing us to discover new ways of engaging with our customers, while we ourselves were navigating a work from home way of life.

At INTRALOT, our product and marketing teams have leaned into new product enhancements to provide increased engagement opportunities with our players. Our newest product integration in sports betting will offer our sports bettors the ability to place bets on millions of different outcomes across professional sports. These types of unique, player-focused product enhancements allow us to reimagine how we engage our players.

COVID-19 has transformed consumer’s lives by changing deeply ingrained purchasing behaviors and patterns, permanently in many cases. The pandemic amplified the need for convenience and immediacy. People began to look for new types of entertainment. Though many businesses were closed and events cancelled, lottery tickets were still accessible in grocery and convenience stores, which remained open during the pandemic. This demand enabled us to make strides in online and touchless strategies that may have taken years to adapt otherwise. As 2020 progressed, new ideas and channels were tested, and existing programs were updated to accommodate changes in buying behavior.

For 2021, we all face a new challenge: planning and strategizing for the unknowns for this year and beyond. Will things “get back to normal”? Will consumers start dining out, going to movies, shopping in stores, and attend concerts and sporting events as much as they once did? What will the “next normal” look like?

While we can’t predict what the future will bring, the following strategies can be helpful in navigating the unknowns and enable us to build more effective marketing plans for 2021 and beyond.

Start with what you already know

Build the foundation of your marketing plans on what you already know and can confidently expect to happen. 2020 has taught us all a lot about disruption and helped us to recognize these disruptors and realign our efforts as needed. Take all this newfound knowledge and incorporate it into the structure of your marketing strategy going forward.

Build your strategy on adaptability

If 2020 taught us anything, it is that things can change drastically, with very little warning. No one had any idea what was in store for us in 2020. As the year progressed and marketing challenges appeared from every angle, we came to accept our inability as marketers to foresee and prepare for every situation. We learned to adapt on the fly, sometimes making changes on a daily basis.

Even if 2021 does bring a return to more normal aspects of life that we took for granted a year ago, it most certainly won’t happen overnight. Your 2021 marketing strategy should plan for quick and decisive adaptation to either address new market challenges or take advantage of new opportunities as they arise. Adapting could also mean accelerating and pivoting timelines for changes that were on the roadmap but thought to be many years down the road. The most successful 2021 marketing plans won’t be the ones set in stone. They will have built-in adaptability, allowing you to adjust to changing markets and consumer demands quickly and efficiently.

Remember what you learned in 2020

If we’re all honest, the single biggest lesson we learned in 2020 is to expect the unexpected. While we are all looking forward to improved circumstances and our daily lives beginning to look more like they did before the pandemic, we shouldn’t be in a hurry to forget what we have learned this past year. Evaluate your results from 2020. You may have uncovered new and more effective ways to connect with your audience. Or perhaps something you thought might grow into a core piece of your strategy turned out to be ineffective.

There is no doubt that we as marketers will have our hands full in 2021 as we begin to come out of the pandemic (hopefully!) The marketing and customer experience landscape will continue to evolve, and there is still uncertainty around just how much change to expect. But if we can build upon our past marketing knowledge, apply what we have learned and remain adaptable, we can be prepared for whatever this next year — and beyond — brings our way. —Written by Darla Oropeza, Marketing Manager – Media, INTRALOT Inc.