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January 7

Countdown of Key Marketing Moves for 2021

The turn of every new year needs a good countdown. With a nod to all that’s changed in our lives and society over the last year, this countdown presents 10 important factors that will affect your marketing success in 2021.

10. The Era of the Public

Market research firm Kantar uses the phrase “Era of the Public” to describe a new cultural shift that will affect everything having to do with consumerism. This type of shift takes place only once every several decades. Today and going forward, we are in the marketing era that is “about society more than what you own or who you are. It will be about how you contribute. It will be about reinventing the rules of commerce to help build a better society,” says Kantar executive J. Walker Smith. The Era of the Public follows two previous periods in marketing that shaped life as we know it: the Product Era, dating back to the early 1900s when people started to accrue material possessions such as cars, and the Person Era from the 1960s to modern day, marked by a culture of individualism and self-fulfillment. Marketing, selling, and customer service in the Public Era should have you examining everything from your value proposition to the specific marketing tactics you employ. For example, is the ”public” built into your brand guide? How can purpose be pursued without alienating key audiences? When do financial returns take a back seat to the societal interests of stakeholders?

9. Inclusion and Representation

The U.S. has incredible socioeconomic and cultural diversity. In marketing, it’s always been an aim to resonate through imagery and words with people who aren’t the same in age, ethnicity, beliefs, and lifestyles. The ethics of how marketers portray consumers deserves the scrutiny it receives, spotlighted even more by today’s social-justice resurgence. AARP reports that only about 15% of ads depict people over the age of 50 – yet, that consumer segment is a huge part of our population. Customers and prospects need to believe you understand their experiences and needs. And as Australian marketing agency Lush so concisely says, “Diversity is not about tokenism.” This new year is a perfect time to review with objectivity how inclusive and authentic your marketing is, making proactive adjustments as needed.

8. Social Consciousness

Millennials first brought the concept of a socially conscious company into mainstream conversation. Now, older Gen Z people, currently in their late teens and early 20s, are accelerating this expectation as both consumers and employees. AdWeek’s 2021 outlook states “No previous generation has been as demanding of their employers to demonstrate a corporate social conscience. Brand marketers will feel compelled and inspired to push their organizations to take meaningful stands on social issues.” And the timing couldn’t be better. Numerous social issues need as much attention as they can get.

7. People-to-People Marketing

One of the great feats of social media has been to democratize the relationship between companies and the public. Long gone are the Mad Men-era days when one jingle could get your company through a year’s worth of TV and newspaper spots. Technology has allowed conversation between buyers and sellers in pivotal ways, and customers expect to be treated like real people, not personas. Personalization is increasingly more important due to the loss of in-person opportunities to advance buyer relationships. Luckily, numerous tools have emerged to get your personalized brand stories front and center in a strategically focused way.

6. Virtual Events and Live Streaming

Related to fewer opportunities for in-person interactions, virtual events and live streaming can be a second-best option for nurturing relationships. For the first time in its 113-year history, the Times Square ball drop had a virtual-only audience. Many creative uses for virtual live events have appeared on outlets such as Zoom, Facebook Live, and TV networks. As you consider your sales and marketing strategy for the next year, take a look at what you can include for virtual relationship building. Even as we start to depend on the new vaccines to end the pandemic, planning ahead for virtual content will ensure no further opportunities are missed.

5. Deeper Customer Relationships

Marketing often focuses on casting larger nets to find new people for your product or service. This remains important, but marketing to the people already buying from you is an important move in 2021. Why? After a tough year that will be long remembered for its emotional toll, customers want to do business with companies they find trustworthy and additive to their lives. What better to way prove you’re worthy than using the information you already have about your customers and deepening the relationships via personalized offers, tips, or reminders. Plus, its well known that increasing sales among existing customers is both faster and cheaper than acquiring new customers.

4. Unexpected Business Relationships

Many budgets are sparser going into this new year than in years past. One way to do more with less is to partner with other companies that share your values or your customer base to create an unusual or exciting value proposition. Take some time to think about what could be your version of Red Bull & GoPro or Nike & Apple.

3. Social-Media Adaptations

Social-media platforms widely used by both individuals and brands have introduced changes to which your content strategy will need to adapt. For example, Instagram is prioritizing the use of its “Reels” feature, making video content all the more important. Facebook is prioritizing the facilitation of person-to-person encounters, creating new challenges for the effectiveness of company pages. Users are most likely to see content from friends and family members over businesses, business page posts with a high number and long comments, posts with a number of reactions and variety of reactions and posts Groups and Events. Twitter has taken steps to encourage responsible and contextualized post-sharing. In October they released a new feature, Birdwatch, that allows users to add notes to tweets needing additional context. If your social-media strategy hasn’t been updated within the last couple of months, take this must-do step early in 2021.

2. The End of the Cookies Era

Google Chrome, the most widely used Internet browser, has reported it will stop collecting third-party cookies by early 2022. Cookies are those invisible data bits that helpfully store your usernames and passwords. They also make the ads and content you see online more relevant to what you’re searching for. Google’s announcement will certainly create change in how digital ads are tracked and measured for effectiveness. We have about a year to create replacement systems and test their effectiveness for a seamless entry into the cookie-less future.

1. Patience

Frustrations are high as we’ve gone through nine unexpected months of crisis and change. Patience has waned. Long looks in the rearview mirror are understandable as we think about a bygone era when not everything seemed so new and different. Perhaps one of the greatest keys to success in 2021 will be patience. To see new strategies through. To attempt what is hard or new. To allow teams to test, measure, and iterate. To end with the words of enlightenment-era philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”

Lori Turner-Wilson is founder and CEO of RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy. A fast-growing agency of seasoned professionals, RedRover is the only Memphis agency to integrate sales training with marketing strategic planning and execution. RedRover has a uniquely intense focus on achieving measurable results for its clientele, as the only Memphis area agency to offer its clients a results guarantee. The agency’s diverse client roster represents nearly every industry vertical in greater Memphis.

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