There is no doubt that living through the pandemic has changed many marketing priorities for 2021. Doing more for less, finding growth from existing customer bases and pushing ROI to the next level are now CMOs go-to-market agendas, according to both Forrester and our own current client-centric perspectives.
Doing ‘more with less’ has been a constant drumbeat in marketing since I joined the industry a couple of decades ago. With each seismic economic shock, like the pandemic now, comes a longer term shift in marketing priorities and campaigns. And with this a renewed focus on reappraisal and reinvention. This is also an exciting opportunity for increased marketing innovation and always a special time to be a leader in the industry.
Teams are Empowered to Be and Act Agile
One key trend that we are seeing is in-house teams becoming more agile in their approach. Many companies are driving to shorter decision-making times in response to an ever growing need to be agile in campaigns and delivery. The best teams are being given greater autonomy and are empowered to do more. Our advice is often being sought right now on what to do more, and less of, to optimise campaigns. One example of this is smart localisation. How best to create global content strategies that can be quickly and easily adapted for regional needs.
A New Prioritisation of Optimising Lifetime Revenue
Another key trend is the shift away from growing customer bases to optimising lifetime revenue. This pivots our thinking and our work. It’s a given that people buy more from companies they trust and respect. This is more than simply having a desirable product or service. It brings purpose front and centre into the brand’s messaging and content. From a business perspective, focusing on the ‘why’ rather than the ‘how’ and ‘what’ you offer is key to bring purpose into focus.
Finding New Ways to Connect With Your Customer Community
Customer advocacy is also crucial here. Word of mouth recommendation has forever been at the centre of successful marketing strategies. Understanding how to fuel this advocacy is key for many marketers. The new focal point to this is community. Where is yours? How do you support them? Make them feel special? Add value to them as people? Better customer experiences are often vital. Better virtual ones for example – more memorable and dynamic than another Zoom call or webinar. Discussions and panels have taken off for a reason, look at the stellar success of Clubhouse and the rush of market leaders to imitate. And if we are looking at events as part of this strategy, then looking at how to engage before and after to optimise their effect. The ability for customers to interact personally with the brand is key.
Moving From Vanity Metrics to Mature Measurement
Turning now to ROI, how do you take this to the next level? We are finally moving away from vanity metrics like clicks, likes and favourites towards more mature measures of success. Measuring advocacy, awareness and conversion is where we should be. What you measure needs to align with your goals. It’s important to be realistic and understand where you are on your curve. A B2B company with a long, high value sales cycle starting from a low, or even no, base isn’t likely to create hundreds or thousands of SQLs in the first few months of a campaign. Equally investing a small test budget into a brand new consumer product from a new entrant isn’t likely to generate tens of thousands of sales. It’s important to invest in understanding customer journeys, the behaviour of your audience and market influences. Research and preparation are key.
Understanding How to Tell a Compelling Story in 2021
All of this means naught if it is not underpinned by a global strength story and content strategy. Finding the storylines and developing standout creative ideas sits at the beating heart of any campaign. So many brands overlook the power of adding value to the conversation their customers want to talk about. The top of funnel content. Most often that does not begin with talking about your product. The same way it’s often tricky talking to the person at the party who is wrapped up in themselves versus how easy it is to sit with the witty, charming storyteller who can entertain you.
This human-centric approach is growing even within the complex world of B2B storytelling. Whilst for consumer brands the trend ever increases to content strategies driven by actual conversations with real people rather than the SEO-heavy driven buzzword soups of yesteryear. Reflecting genuine interactions with your community is the order of the day. Your team then vitally sits at the centre of your marketing strategy. Figuring out how to balance their day jobs with being involved with their source communities more often is key to an innovative marketing future.
Unintentionally, perhaps, 2020 sets the stage for an exciting and challenging 2021 for marketing teams. 2020 forced many marketers to look again at truisms and accepted practices and adapt. It amplified what worked and what did not. This sets up 2021 as a year to capitalise on these opportunities. To invest bigger in new or improved activities that really worked, perhaps some of the above, and make bold decisions to scale back on what did not. It demands great marketing from true leaders and inspired teams.
Jill Coomber is Managing Director of our Integrated Marketing practice in Europe. To find out more about how we can help you make the most of these trends, click here.