My first thought after reading through the predictions from Digital Marketer’s How Digital Marketing Will Change: 17 Predictions for 2020 was BE AUTHENTIC. From Tara Robertson’s “the age of authentic marketing” to Ralph Burns explanation of Facebook restrictions that prohibit the use of bait marketing tactics, it’s clear social media platforms and relevant content demand is driving brands to understand their audiences (and themselves) more than ever before.
Some of it comes from the continual advancement of analytics, automation, and personalization capabilities. This has created a new expectation level from consumers. I think Tara Robertson had one of the strongest predictions, “In the year ahead, marketers will focus more on being customer obsessed by ensuring every touchpoint is consistent and deliberate. Providing exceptional customer experiences is no longer a ‘nice to have.’” It may be hard to keep up on everything, but this is where understanding your brand and its purpose will help you decide a few important factors to pick where to begin. Ask yourself the following questions… 1) What’s the most important priority right now? 2) Of the available options, what will have the biggest bang for buck? And 3) Does this fit our mission?
Notice that I didn’t include – what is my competitor doing? What does Google say I should do? What does the “next” Mark Zuckerberg predict? The focus is on understanding your audiences and brand. I believe in marketing strategies which focuses on your consumers, not the competition, and I’m not alone.
“By obsessing over its customers, not the competition, Amazon takes advantage of every bit of information consumers leave behind to come up with incredibly relevant, valuable and simply delightful offerings — including some that people don’t even know they want yet.”Mike Sands, “Why your brand should obsess over its customers, not its competitors“
Before understanding your audiences, you have to understand what your brand stands for – who are you? Apple didn’t form itself around a target audience. They focused on their products, their why and pretty much told the world – follow us if you like what we do. If not, we’re not for you. As marketers, we often have to understand the brand better than the rest of the company, sometimes even the CEO. This is important in terms of improving and maintaining brand integrity.
If you handed the keyboard over to staff members outside of a marketing department, they will respond to complaints, comments, etc. in the most professional way possible. This isn’t necessarily wrong, but it doesn’t help your brand speak. The image below is from a local financial that I think did a humorous job with replying to a consumer thread and what a response they received.
They have been responding with humorous tactics for a bit and their followers seem to respond well, but can you imagine pitching this type of “voice” to a CEO? It’s this tenacity and ownership of brand that I think will eventually make companies stand out amongst the rest. To this point, I think it was one of the things missing in Ash Roy’s predictions about why podcasts were showing so much success. I think one of the reasons podcasts are popular is because they are serving as an authentic brand voice and it is proving it’s worth and attracting consumers.
To pivot slightly to a personal reflection, I was lucky early in my career to have met my mentor and one of the most consumer-centric, innovative marketers I have met. He pounded into my head one simple phrase – be the only one who does what you do. This simple phrase turned brainstorming sessions into innovation labs. It turned, “that’s not possible”, into “what if?” While every idea didn’t come into fruition, it did mentally change how our team looked at challenges, data and taking care of our customers.
I think many of the digital marketers who gave predictions have this mentality to some degree. Rachel Pedersen certainly did to me with many of her commentary ringing close to home, especially with phrases like, “Too many people have been burned by influencers faking it with perfect photoshoots, and consumers are desperate for authenticity” and “Let it be. Let them see.” She herself sets a great example. Check out her cover photo on her LinkedIn profile and it will show you what she values and her emotions in one simple, beautiful photo.
In conclusion, I’ve seen plenty of predictions and trends throughout the years about where marketing is heading; however, I have seen one thing over and over again. It may be stated in a different way with a different tactic, but the best marketers are always preaching – know your brand and know your audience. If you focus on these two things, you will be able to handle whatever trend or new technology comes your way. So, in 2020, simply…
Own your brand and put out the neon signs to tell your audience to come to the place they belong.