The Top 3 Things to Know About the Future of Marketing

If there is one thing we know for sure, it is that 2020 is the year defined by change and uncertainty. And change doesn’t come slowly – it arrives swiftly, with very little warning, and demands immediate action. From a business perspective, it’s a reminder that we need to be constantly looking ahead and be ready for innovation and change. Now is a good time to start looking at trends that will impact where the industry is going in 2021 and how these trends could be used for your future strategies.

So what does 2021 hold for Marketing?

COVID-19 and its Impact on Marketing

Nobody planned for COVID-19 but we can’t avoid that COVID-19 is with us.  Due to COVID-19, priorities have changed, causing a shift in the strategies we had in mind for 2020. What started out as a health pandemic soon turned into an economic one, as travel was banned, borders were closed and businesses were in jeopardy. This then ultimately led to social implications, such as living under lockdown regulations and working from home.

So how will marketers navigate a post-covid-19 world?

Firstly, they need to consider the implications of COVID-19 on the economy, their industry, and society, and how the core of marketing is meeting people’s needs in a profitable way.

The importance of industry related analysis is vital, taking into account that the needs of people, driven by these social and economic drivers have changed in many ways. For example, if you are in the luxury goods industry, people have deprioritised a lot of luxury products and don’t require those as much. But if you find yourself in the health-related products, the demand for those has shot up. With the priority of consumers now different to what they may have been at the start of 2020, what can marketers do to meet their current and future needs?

For one, marketers need to realise how the community has now taken on an important role beyond their target audience and core customer base.

Consider the example of Nike, who at the start of lockdown asked their customers to “play inside, play for the world”, a campaign that encouraged people to keep active but to do so indoors instead. This, in conjunction with an incentive linked to the premium fees for their Nike Training App being waived, encouraged a sense of community in a world where social distancing was the sudden norm.

Marketers need to understand who their audience is and ensure that they need to personalise their customer journey. Creating buyer personas is still relevant, and will continue to be relevant, because of how it allows marketers to personalise at mass scale. Once marketers have refined their method of doing things that matter to their customers, the more likely they are to succeed.

However, while change in a post-covid-19 world is inevitable for marketers, there is a difference between forced change and choiceful change. There are certain things that have been forced on us because of current circumstances, and it will be a mistake if we assume that all of the change that we see will automatically translate into the new normal because as soon as people have choices, the things that were forced but weren’t meaningful to them will be dropped. So it is important that we stay on top of understanding our customers and their motivations.

Refining your Brand Purpose

For many consumers, brand purpose has become increasingly important as the functionality of a product begins to fade away and brand experience takes its place. Brand experience not only encompasses how customers are made to feel about a particular brand but also what that brand stands for and their guiding principles.

In many ways, the elevation of brand purpose has brought marketing to the table, even in organisations that have not been marketing-centric, there has been a growing appreciation. Over time, we have seen customers make the change towards choosing brands who choose things that actually matter to them. This goes beyond catchy slogans and logo designs; consumers now want to put their money behind the brands that are doing the right thing and standing for something other than making a profit.

This will tie into your brand purpose and refining why your organisation exists beyond this profit motive.

Issues like localization, employee protection and community care are just a few examples of what consumers could be looking into as they begin to support the brands they choose. For marketers, this will be the competitive advantage that they need to tap into when it comes to distinguishing themselves in the marketing landscape from here on. Brand purpose affords differentiation and for marketers, this is the compliment you want to receive. Combine this with creating an emotional connection with your customers and soon enough, you will find the sweet spot that will make the brand stick in the minds.

Investing in your Marketing Team

The importance of commercial value and connecting with customers, is inseparable.  This means, that investing in marketing requires doing so at the appropriate levels that depend on the objects that need to be achieved.

Marketeers foresee a decrease in their annual marketing budget as a result of COVID-19 and the cost pressures that came with it.

Marketers will, as a result, face the challenge of securing marketing budgets to achieve their objectives in a shrinking market.

Creativity may shine in this regard, however marketers will need to make the link between customer aspirations and translating that into commercial value.

An important aspect is looking into using the right marketing tools and partners to overcome the barriers and achieve their targets.

The global use of technology has increased this year and it has also become increasingly important that marketers have the right technology to help them meet their objectives.

In any modern business marketing setup, marketing partners, on average, make up a quarter of the marketing budget because of the advantages that these partners bring. While fighting for investment in marketing may seem like one impossible task, the rewards reaped are priceless.

Where does this leave the future of marketing?

We’ve seen extremely encouraging examples of companies and brands all over the world giving their customers breathing space and being there for them even in times of trouble.

Marketers will need to get comfortable with being flexible and knowing how to think fast and act quickly to not just the current situation but to any situation that may come in the future. As we adjust to the new normal and a post-covid-19 world, marketers will not only need to familiarise themselves with how COVID-19 has impacted marketing now but ensure that they have an understanding of its impact for the future. Adjustment and innovation will be key for marketers but one thing that should remain constant is the brand purpose and making sure that taking the time to create valuable and meaningful connections with customers that will extend well beyond 2020.

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