It’s fair to say that this has been a year like no other, but with any disruption there are valuable lessons to be learnt. So what has 2020 taught us about marketing and communications, and how can we take this forward in the future?
If content is king, digital content is divine
Digital content had already established its place in the marketing mix, but it suddenly became the strategy that pervaded in lead generation. Web traffic and social channel engagement grew, with a rising trend towards content marketing that engages customers through interactive media and industry insights. As consumers increasingly look to the web for answers in both B2B and B2C contexts, high quality digital content is set to be the focal point in marcomms strategies going forward.
Brand stories can’t just be human, they must have a soul
We know that brand storytelling needs to feel personal; to create that one-to-one relationship that cultivates consumer trust. However, the events of 2020 have brought about the need for a more emotional connection. A new chapter of brand storytelling has emerged with social responsibility at its heart. Whether it’s big businesses encouraging us to buy local, or solopreneurs offering concessions for those in need, brands have been baring their souls to build stronger bonds in a fragile consumer environment. While the tactics are likely to change in the future, the strategy is something that may well prevail.
PR should relate, not narrate
The authoritative tone of PR has been side-lined to make way for a sentiment of compassion and camaraderie. The most creative campaigns of the year have set aside commercial messaging to build brand awareness through empathy and solidarity – Uber’s ‘Thank you for not riding’ campaign, for example. In the challenging economic times that lay ahead, simply delivering a message may not be enough in the PR profession. A holistic approach is required if businesses are to prove that they can truly understand, relate to, and address their customers’ needs.
Agility is the must-have ability
Being adaptable to changing circumstances is essential for marcomms professionals in the digital age, but this year has been somewhat extreme. As with every aspect of life, plans have been thrown dramatically off course and we still don’t really know what’s coming next. If there’s one thing this year has taught us, it’s the importance of business agility. In the future, as in the past nine months, brands need to be ready to pivot marcomms strategies quickly to respond to evolving situations.
The reality is that 2020 has taken us on a transformational journey and given us a new outlook on the future. The lessons we have learnt will help us reflect on our marcomms strategies and perhaps even evolve ‘new normal’ approaches that are better for both businesses and consumers.