2021 Marketing Trends – Be ready, be real, be flexible, be human

After an unprecedented year where the unexpected and impossible became the norm, individuals all over the globe are looking at 2021 with hopeful eyes and hearts for a break from the constant alarm and panic, optimistic that we can leave the social distancing behind and once again embrace each other. Though the main feeling is still uncertainty, companies still have a duty to get to work and adapt to this new normal day-to-day. Objectives have to be adjusted, strategies have to be redrawn, and thinking outside of the box is no longer a cool idea but necessary for survival.


Deloitte sought out to find some direction and find the pulse on what executives are planning as far as marketing strategies for the year. They have recently published a report with their findings, which we think are spot on and on par with the conversations we’ve been privy to recently. Let’s take a look at the seven trends they have identified for global marketing in 2021 and, as always, we’ll add the Nytro take:


· Purpose: how organizations that know why they exist and who they are built to serve are better positioned to navigate unprecedented change. Nytro take: one of the most important processes we help companies embark on is a discovery of their go-to-market strategy. An exercise like this is pivotal to identifying their messaging, their audience, and their packaging. This is the perfect time for all organizations to take a look at what they’ve done thus far and how they want to move forward in order to ensure that their mission is clear not only to the public, but within.


· Agility: helps leaders galvanize already existing tools to design their organizational road map to relevant, agile marketing. Nytro take: when it comes to thinking outside of the box, it’s not always about reinventing the wheel. Instead of creating from scratch or going over budget on snazzy tactics, what is important is to be flexible, nimble, being able to pivot quickly, and evaluating what works based on what has worked before and where we are today.


· Human Experience: why organizations should be more human, and balance the business needs of efficiency and speed to market with human values to be able to respond quickly to the needs of their people. Nytro take: the experience economy has dominated the conversation for the past couple of years as the main point of focus and priority for businesses as far as what they bring to the market, and ensuring that there’s a palpable impact and improvement on the experience for both internal and external audiences. What is key now is to find a way to remain connected in spite of physical distance and letting your employees, partners, and customers know how much they mean to you and that you will work to ensure their safety by establishing protocols, creating services or products to improve their lives, and showing that you actually care.


· Trust: the importance of authentically delivering on promises while ensuring that messaging and delivery are congruent. Nytro take: generationally, millennials have been known to be a hard group to advertise to, because they can smell through the gimmicks that used to work for prior generations. Gen Z’ers are even more adept to know when they’re being sold to and they are seemingly connecting the most with specific influencers. It’s important to know your audience and be able to communicate in a way that they can receive authentically – and above all, ensure that you’re delivering on your promises and righting any wrongs along the way.


· Participation: how customer engagement strategy is evolving to become a two-way street and leaning into participation at its deepest levels. Nytro take: the rise in social media gave way to social selling and a community approach where your clients can also interact with each other and create stronger loyalty to your brand or service. It’s important that when you strategize and plan for your marketing tactics, that you’re not talking to the audience, but that you’re finding ways to engage them, find out how they react to your approach, and that you take their feedback into account for the future. People want to feel like they are being heard and that their opinions and thoughts are valued.


· Fusion: cross-industry convergence. It shows how creative organizations are getting past their defensive mindsets to fuse partnerships that integrate customer insights and digital platforms—with a view to meeting changing needs. Nytro take: last year, a lot of businesses went under because they were unable to pivot, or remain funded without being considered essential. A number of companies got creative and found ways to band together as a way to stay afloat, and this should continue into the future as a best practice for what collaboration can accomplish. Now that there’s a digital interface where tactics can be tested “softly,” there’s no excuse to not try new approaches or aim for that partnership you’ve always wondered if it would work.


· Talent: how marketers can incorporate talent trends such as AI, gig work, in-sourcing, and upskilling to turn marketing talent into a competitive force. Nytro take: working remotely is now en vogue, and technology has taken center stage in all of our lives. Productivity has skyrocketed and now executives need to find a way to harness the power of their teams, whether they’re in the same room or at a distance. By leveraging technologies that foster automation, you can remove the repetitive, rule-based tasks from your employees’ to-do list, and give them time back to be more strategic and apply their skills towards increasing your competitive advantage.


These trends are not exclusive to marketing and can likely be applied to most practices and industries, but marketing teams – both in-house as well as agencies – would do well to center their strategy around these principles and keeping them top of mind when drawing up new campaigns and creating assets to ensure that everything has purpose, is authentic, and gets them closer to their customers.

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