With a brand New Year already underway, it’s time to get cracking and adapt to the new normal. The trouble is, the new normal is not that new anymore and, to make matters more confusing, it was only an illusory buzz-phrase in the first place. No, this year is all about the – what shall we call it folks? Answers on a postcard…
How about the Unnormal? Whatever it is, the next 12 months will be a precarious balancing act. It will be beneficial to innovate and dream up new ways of operating while also returning to the marketing basics, like doing some good old-fashioned research. Flexibility is also needed to adapt to the demands of a capricious consumer, but a steely eye should be kept on long-term trends. The strategy of bothism we looked at last year seems more sensible than ever!
Most New Year’s resolutions are broken by the end of January, but that’s because we are all trying to give things up. The key to successfully changing behavior is to do the opposite and take things up! Here, then, is the challenging (but enjoyable) Paragon New Year’s Resolution To-Do list 2021:
Let’s be businesslike
Marketing teams traditionally tell a brand’s story. This year, let us help write the story itself. In other words, instead of being a secondary part of the organisation that responds to decisions made elsewhere, it’s time to become a primary force that influences decisions. This requires the development of a valuable new flow of information and responsibility within companies. Marketing exists at the vital interface between the business and the all-important – and increasingly demanding – customer. That relationship needs to be nurtured and exploited.
Let’s be agile
The pandemic made flexibility an essential requirement. Brands adapted rapidly – first, to meet the needs of staff that had to work from home and, secondly, to satisfy customers and clients that were buying their services and products in very different ways. The first has been overcome. With increased remote working, 94% of employers surveyed by HR consultants Mercer revealed that company productivity was the same (67%) or higher (27%) than before the pandemic. The second is more difficult to achieve. Convincing a client to commit to the Big Deal in the haze of a Zoom call, for example, would challenge even an arch salesman like Wall St wolf Leonardo DiCaprio. However, many businesses did adapt amazingly quickly. And customers got used to the ease and speed with which they could buy goods and services. This means there’s no turning back now. An agile company mindset is good news.
Let’s be balanced
Easy tiger! Let’s not get carried away with our agility. Yes, we have to react quickly to relatively rapid changes in customer and client demand, but it’s equally important to remember long-term goals. Marketers must also understand – and predict or even help shape – ongoing and future trends in customer sentiment. These structural trends have different implications for how we operate. In other words, let’s avoid the temptation to put too much energy into short-termism and ensure we retain a focus on what happens later, keep in mind future opportunities and how we can exploit them. It’s key to be short and long term.
Let’s look outwards
When the going gets tough there is a tendency for some marketers to look in the wrong places – especially inwards – for solutions. In spreadsheets, for example. Hidden away in all those numbers, is there really going to be an undiscovered insight into customer needs, desires and intentions? Or the (blank) faces of colleagues in meetings? All that zooming will reveal the same old info you already know about what colleagues think but nothing new about customers. At a time of disruption and change it is time to look outwards and understand – as accurately as possible – the customer. The solution, of course, is research! And more research. Create the content your customers want and they will return and remain loyal.
Let’s get personal
Not again, I hear you say! Every year marketing departments talk a good game about personalisation yet fail to deliver it. First names appear at the top of company email newsletters. Fridge ads appear all over your screens just after you’ve bought a fridge. That sort of thing. Technology has had the power to offer a more personalised experience for a while but now brands are increasingly realising it’s worth the (not inconsiderable) investment. And the next step is on its way, too, with the arrival of personal commerce. “Consumers expect brands to understand what they’ve bought in the past and help them to determine what they should buy next, based on all the data they’ve consciously shared with them by engaging with their sites and channels,” Sherene Hilal, SVP of Bluecore, predicted in Forbes.
In reality, of course, this is only a very top-level look at what we can hope to achieve this year. At least, though, we are all learning to expect the unexpected. If you are interested in creating a new content strategy – or devising a new to-do list! – then we would love to hear from you.