2021 Planning and the Importance of Flexibility When Preparing for the Year to Come

If the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that you can prepare all you want, but there are just some things in life you cannot plan for. And while we may not be sure what 2021 has in store, the pandemic has revealed the true importance of flexibility and adaptability in business. By building a flexible marketing plan for 2021, you’ll be able to adjust on the fly without causing significant impact to your long-term goals. This article will explore ways businesses can ensure their marketing plans are nimble enough to withstand whatever the future holds.


As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe, companies both large and small adopted and embraced working from home. According to research from Stanford University, an estimated 42 percent of the U.S. workforce began working from home full-time during the pandemic. Everyone from teachers and gym instructors, to realtors and accountants began conducting business remotely as they adjusted to this new way of life. Virtual happy hours and gym classes became the norm as we all incorporated the term “Zoom meeting” into our everyday vocabulary. As our lives became predominantly virtual, so too did our purchasing habits. Companies that were able to quickly adapt to this rapid change in consumer behavior were not only able to weather the storm but were also able to grow their businesses despite economic hardships.

You may be wondering how professional pest control, an industry that revolves around being inside customer’s homes, can possibly survive by going virtual. There are a number of innovative strategies, however, that pest control companies can adopt to minimize in-person contact with customers without sacrificing quality of service. Virtual video assessments are a great tool to help decrease the amount of time spent in a customer’s home. Although not every aspect of pest control can become completely virtual, allowing a pest control professional to assess a problem virtually before entering the home enables them to create a proactive and personalized strategy based on the specific issue at hand so that when they do need to enter, the visit can be as brief and efficient as possible. Additionally, using an online portal where customers can book appointments and make payments also reduces the need for face-to-face interaction, so consider making as many of those transactions virtual as possible.


While communicating with customers in a transparent and timely fashion has always been important, it is now integral to a company’s success or failure. According to a survey of consumers by Twilio, when asked what kind of messages they wanted to hear from companies during the pandemic, 53 percent of respondents ranked critical updates about changes to availability of their products and services the highest, and 37 percent also strongly value messages about strategies to stay safe.

“By building a flexible marketing plan for 2021, you’ll be able to adjust on the fly without causing significant impact to your long-term goals.”

When the pandemic first started to dominate headlines, companies had to pause all marketing efforts and look at all future tactics through a sensitivity lens to ensure their messaging was purposeful and resonated positively with their audiences. A good example of this is Guinness’ “St. Patrick’s Day Message.” According to Marketing Dive, Guinness was one of the first brands to address the virus in its ads, which elicited positive responses from consumers on likeability, relatability and information delivered. Rather than capitalizing on Guinness’ biggest day of the year by showing people out at pubs drinking their product, they instead chose to share a message about how their consumers can still enjoy Guinness, but while remaining safe and following social distancing guidelines from the comfort of their homes.

Although you may not be able to plan this far in advance the specific types of messages you are going to send to customers in 2021, you can ensure that those messages are going to at least reach them in an effective, transparent and straightforward way. According to Twilio, consumers prefer email over other forms of communication by a wide margin. Sixty-seven percent chose email when asked how they’d like to hear from companies in the future versus 45 percent who selected social media. In light of this consumer preference for virtual communication, email marketing is an important strategy for pest control companies to utilize to ensure important messages, updates and news reach their customers in a timely way and via a medium they prefer.

As we look ahead to 2021, it’s normal to feel hesitant to make any concrete decisions after the year we just had. By ensuring your company’s marketing plan is flexible and adaptable through the use of digital and virtual strategies and open communication, you can rest easy knowing your plan can be adjusted to still meet your goals should something else unexpected arise.

Cindy Mannes is the executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance. Visit www.npmapestworld.org/ppma for more information on how you can become involved.