2021 Recap & 2022 Business Planning

It’s that time of the year again…

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire!

Jack Frost nipping at your toes…

Or, maybe some coquito being made at home… the roscón de reyes countdown… or just some holiday spirit because the rest of the world is in the *mood*.

Well, from a more “practical”, less festive perspective… It’s time for end-of-the-year revisions and next year’s business planning!

If you haven’t sat down to review and reflect on your 2021 business and marketing data to plan for business and marketing in 2022 – there’s time.

If you aren’t sure where to start, well, that’s what we’re here to help you with! In this blog post, we’re going to use ourselves, The Quirky Pineapple Studio, as a case study. We will walk you through how to review and reflect on your business and marketing in 2021. We will also teach you how to plan for business growth in 2022.

Business & Marketing Planning for 2022

Usually, in posts like this, we’ve seen digital marketing agencies throw around A LOT of jargon like…

  • KPIs!
  • Conversions
  • CTRs
  • Repurpose

And those words are important, and we will be using most of them, as well. However, before we dive into business and marketing planning for 2022, let’s define what they mean and the lens we’re applying to our work.

First, The Quirky Pineapple Studio is a brand strategy and copywriting studio focusing on feminist copywriting and human-centered marketing. We apply a cultural competence and liberatory lens to our work. This means we work to be anti-capitalist, anti-racist, and anti-imperialist. Yes, sounds ironic when we work in marketing, but those are our values!

So, here are a few of the vocabulary words we’ll be using throughout this post, using this lens (cultural competence and liberation) and with feminist copywriting and marketing practices:

Important keywords to keep in mind

Strategy: A combination of ideas, actions, and goals we set. Based on market research, data, and analytics from our business and marketing plans. Strategies are NOT stagnant, they are evolving and adapting to the current situation and can also forecast for the future.

Key Performance Indicator: Also known as KPI, these are the objectives or milestones that we’ve set out for our strategies. They do not need to be directly correlated to monetary gains. They can also take into account things like email subscribers, inquiries, collaborations, media features, etc.

Conversions: Sounds robotic, and it kind of is. A conversion is an action someone decides to take after interacting with our content. It usually results in moving us closer to our objective or goal. A marketing conversion could be someone subscribing to our email newsletter after reading our Instagram post.

READ: How to Create and Maintain an Effective Client Communication Cycle

Ideal Clients: The PEOPLE (full-on humans with intersectional identities) that would benefit the most from our work, and our experience can best help them. Usually, ideal clients are seen as “mystical” people or very “census” oriented. In this case, our ideal clients have intersecting identities and specific goals they want to achieve through our services. They want to connect with a brand/business.

Brand Message: The promise your brand/business makes. It is who you help, how you help, why you help in concise and clear phrasing. The brand message is the basis of your communication strategy to attract your ideal clients.

Content Marketing: Social media posts, images, graphics, text, audio, or video that are used to share about your business/brand and create a know, like, trust factor with your ideal clients.

Impact: Can be measured in many different ways, and does not always mean money. Impact can refer to the people you’ve worked with, how your work ripples throughout the community, giveback opportunities, and more.

Now that we’re on the same page and you know where we’re coming from – let’s dive into our business planning case study!

What Worked in Business in 2021

We saw a huge shift in business and marketing strategies this year as the world returned to somewhat “normal”. Online and virtual events, while still popular, weren’t gaining the same traction as they were in the previous year. Folx were also experiencing Zoom fatigue and effects of prolonged stress and “grinding” – y’all, our gut was telling us all year that people were TIRED.

This was also true for us – we were TIRED.

Instead of focusing on creating MORE and doing MORE, we focused on simplifying and streamlining a lot of our business and marketing operations.

It was a full-year journey to simplify, retire programs and services, and restructure everything on the backend. This means that our marketing strategy shifted throughout the year to reflect these changes, as well. Instead of focusing so heavily on social media as we had in 2020, we started to lean more on a sustainable approach (ie: email marketing and maintaining client relationships).

Here’s what worked in business in 2021 (for us):

  1. Creating long-term relationships with our clients (and understanding the client journey)
  2. Being clear and concise in our brand message and communication strategy
  3. Simplifying our service offerings and programs

Creating long-term relationships with our clients

The Quirky Pineapple Studio started with hospitality in mind. This means that we believe in great customer service, asking for and implementing feedback, and creating a memorable client experience. 

Over the years, we’ve worked with clients from all different stages of their business – beginning, pivoting, seasoned business owners, folx starting their personal brands… and that has helped us understand the client journey and when/why brands come to us.

READ: 3 Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid This Year

Thanks to this deep understanding of the client journey, it created a lot more trust with our client base. With a mix of hospitality and understanding the client journey, we created repeat client cycles. We offered services that met our current clients where they were ready to go next, which then resulted in repeat clients! We now have had a working relationship with our clients for 1.5-2 years.

Being clear and concise in our brand message and communication strategy

Y’all, if you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll know that we’ve “rebranded” and “pivoted” a few times with our brand message.

Each time we get clearer and clearer on what we do, who we work with, and who we can best help. This year was no different!

We took a course on Feminist Coach Theory, invested in learning more about social justice, and started being more vocal about our opinions regarding politics and activism. All of this was reflected in the shift we made with our brand message and communication strategy – getting VERRRRYYY clear and concise and standing our ground if people asked.

Thanks to that, it attracted brands and businesses that felt connected to our work and shared in our values. All of our clients are actively working to create systems change, in their own lanes, from gender equity, leadership development, belonging in the workplace, sustainability in events, and more.

Simplifying our service offerings and programs

During the height of quarantine, we created many different offers for our audience because we needed to adapt. The service offerings and programs were exciting at one point, but as the world slowly started moving to a “new normal”, we realized we weren’t as excited about them anymore.

Basically, we created a business and marketing strategy that thrived in quarantine. We had a “quarantine” successful business and marketing model! Unfortunately, that only works when the rest of the world is in quarantine.

So we started taking stock of the offers that we were really excited about, converted live programs into on-demand courses, and restructured what was included in our strategy. Our marketing changed from being “on” all the time (because we had the time) to a more sustainable strategy focusing on cornerstone content and repurposing it across channels.

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By doing this, we took the pressure off of ourselves to produce ALL THE TIME and found different ways for the business to grow, with offers that feel good for us!

What Worked for Service-Based Businesses in 2021

Over 2021, we worked with different businesses and non-profit organizations that wanted to amplify their message, connect with their community, and create inclusive, awesome shit.

Some clients worked with us for their brand message strategy, website copywriting, or a long-term content marketing plan. Their goals were to grow their audience, create a deeper relationship with their community members, and start getting engagement (either with sales, comments, or messages).

So, we focused on all of that for 2021 and here’s what worked for a few our our clients this year:

  1. Building communities, not just audiences
  2. Creating branded content series (not only resharing helpful content)
  3. Clarifying the client journey and listening to what their ideal clients were asking for

Building communities, not just audiences

Many of our clients already had a “good amount” of audience members or followers across their social media platforms and email newsletters. This year, however, their goal wasn’t necessarily to GROW their audience but to deepen the relationship they have with them – building communities.

We focused on creating content that deepened community connections.

This mainly looked like content that focused on engagement, asking questions, cultural competence, and country-specific holidays or trends.

Creating branded content series

A branded content series can be a long-term content campaign that is specific to your brand. For example, The Quirky Pineapple Studio used to host Instagram Lives every Wednesday called “Wine Wednesdays with Cassandra” where we would share a quick tip, mini training, or talk about the latest branding and marketing trends.

We built out branded content series with our own clients this year, to help position them as industry leaders! It helped their content stand out more, instead of only resharing useful content from others, and created a consistent schedule for their audience to look forward to.

For example, one of our clients started hosting monthly gatherings that helped them deepen the connection with their community, while also serving as a branded content series.

Clarifying the client journey and listening to what their ideal clients were asking for

What really worked this year for our clients was clarifying their client journey and listening to what their ideal clients wanted. That meant, asking for A LOT of feedback.

From that feedback, we translated it into a clearer brand message and specific pieces of content that folx were asking for. It helped our clients build more trust with their community, and become the “go-to” for certain topics, offers, and more.

READ: 3 Tips to Help You Create Repeat Client Cycles in Your Business

This resulted in more inquiries and more sales. Also in more “brand ambassadors” for their own brand (people who shared and supported their work).

2022 Business Planning

After a year of massive growth (2020), a year of tiring upkeep and restructuring (2021) – our 2022 business planning is going to look a little different.

Our goal isn’t to continue growing (although if that’s a by-product, awesome)! Instead, we want to create sustainable offers, marketing strategies, and business structures. For us, it is more about maintaining a holistic approach to business and marketing than trying to make quick cash.

Also, we’re seeing a shift in business and marketing.

Companies are prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion, they are looking to add in a human-centered marketing approach and learn how to write feminist copy. We don’t think this is going to change in the future as the social and political climate shifts.

If you’re a business/brand looking to add more cultural competence and liberation into your work, what does business planning look like?

Well, to be honest, it’ll look different for everyone depending on your goals, ideal clients, and business model. How we’re approaching business planning is by:

  • Aligning our brand message to our mission and ideal clients
  • Simplifying our offers and services to work smarter (not harder)
  • Have more fun with our marketing and content

Some questions to reflect on as we plan are:

  • Which types of clients did we work with this year?
  • How was it working with them and who received the results that best aligned with the work that we want to do?
  • Which services and offers were most popular?
  • Were they profitable in terms of time, investment, and energy? Were they enjoyable?
  • What content is the “easiest” and most fun to make?
  • How can we lengthen the life-span of our content to reach more people?

From there, we’ll update our marketing strategy based on the goals we’ve set for each quarter and the year.

And then finally, we’ll break it up into actionable steps and campaigns for the month.

We’ve found this is the easiest way to stick to a plan, adapt it as time goes by, and adjust based on our energy levels and commitments. This also is more sustainable for us, because it is based on data we’ve seen works AND creates room for fun and play!

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Let’s Wrap it Up – 2022 Business Planning Short-Cut

Ok, so this might have been TL;DR, so let’s wrap it up into short steps for you!

Our predictions for 2022 are that more companies, brands, and businesses will take note of and start to implement:

  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion actions within their business and marketing
  • A more human-centered marketing strategy and approach (one that includes cultural competence in their marketing and looks at the intersectional identities of their ideal clients)
  • And adapt feminist copywriting practices (we’ll be pushing for more liberatory copywriting practices)

If you’re looking to do the same, these are questions we use to reflect on and plan for business and marketing each year:

  • Which types of clients did we work with this year?
  • How was it working with them and who received the results that best aligned with the work that we want to do?
  • Which services and offers were most popular?
  • Were they profitable in terms of time, investment, and energy? Were they enjoyable?
  • What content is the “easiest” and most fun to make?
  • How can we lengthen the life-span of our content to reach more people?

How will you be planning for business in 2022? Are you focused on any of the trends that we mentioned or are you focusing on something else? Let us know in the comments below!

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3 Ways to Add Feminism & Cultural Competence to Your Online Small Business Strategy

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We’re a brand strategy & copywriting studio for mission-driven, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and Feminist-run brands and businesses who want to increase their visibility and connect with their communities through the power of story and content. We share tips & advice on how to make marketing (and business) fun!

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