In the podcast:
01:50 – Out of 2020, into 2021
04:10 – Offline versus online business recovery
06:10 – Does government support have bearing?
08:55 – To pull back, or to increase marketing spend?
12:06 – The future-gazing challenge
13:55 – Tougher quality control for paid traffic
17:51 – Less advertiser control over the pixel
20:18 – Partnership content is going to be big
24:44 – Expect to see more openness in the market
25:22 – Old school strategies will be back and better
26:06 – A lot of sensitive people out there
27:28 – How to avoid legal messes
29:43 – Multi-channel marketing for the win
31:32 – Some parting thoughts
2020 was a tumultuous year for business owners. Some companies fared better than others, depending on a number of factors.
Offline versus online business recovery
From James and Will‘s observation, those that already had a strong online element were quick to adjust. That said, there were also some largely offline businesses that successfully pivoted to the online space.
Success for many had to do with a change in product messaging – from growth, for instance, to support, to dependability, to peace of mind.
Location also had some bearing. In some places, businesses received more support from the government, and in others, the effects of the pandemic were less felt.
To pull back, or to increase marketing spend?
Some businesses became cautious with their marketing spend. Others, especially those who made the online switch, saw opportunities to redirect their budgets, and so spent more. And still others started out spending less, but drew courage later on and increased their spending to what it was before the crisis.
“When everyone’s greedy, it’s time to be fearful. When everyone’s fearful, it’s time to be greedy.”
The future-gazing challenge
What does 2021 have in the offing as far as marketing trends? James invites Will to make some predictions, based on what he’s observed as a marketer and business owner.
Tougher quality control for paid traffic
The number one thing Will has noticed, and that he predicts will continue, is that paid traffic will be more about quality, and how people will engage and use and view your ads.
This can be seen in Facebook’s current readiness to ban ad accounts for little reason. It looks like staying in Facebook’s good graces will become more difficult with time. Likely, with stricter standards, they will be tailoring themselves to audiences or advertisers with bigger budgets than your typical small business.
The best way to adapt will be to pull prospects off ad platforms and onto one’s email list, where they can control the conversation.
Less advertiser control over the pixel
The pixel is an important part of Facebook advertising, letting marketers retarget and such. As of the moment, marketers have a great deal of control over how they use it. This may change, however. Word is that Facebook and other platforms are looking to take back control of the pixel.
The solution, it would seem, would be to get people onto one’s email list, load the list back into Facebook, and create the right audiences from an external source.
Strengthen your business operation now by assuming that pixels and cookies will not be an option in the future. Use them in the meantime, but don’t rely on them.
Partnership content is going to be big
Partnerships and content promise to be powerful in 2021. People who have been around and have built an audience and a track record can use that audience and reputation to help others who may have great value to offer their market.
Partnerships in terms of helping each other’s audiences, partnerships in terms of podcast appearances, sharing content with each other, collaborations, that’s going to be something that we see more and more of.
You can see it now in the collaborations on YouTube, people with similar-sized and similar-themed audiences working together.
Expect to see more openness in the market
The heyday of carefully-constructed images of success may be over. Lamborghinis and mansions are passe. There’s a certain maturity in the current market, a difference in language that is all about openness and transparency.
The people who are upfront and honest and prioritize their audience the most stand to gain from strong word of mouth.
Old school strategies will be back and better
Look for stuff like direct mail, simple lead magnets and ebooks to make a strong comeback.
Direct mail is huge. Getting something in the post is special. Open rates and cut-through are massive. You’re there with your message, with a special redeemable offer, and it’s super trackable.
How to avoid legal messes
Companies these days have to be careful with their messaging. 2020 saw a lot of sensitivity around race, politics, brands. You could spark outrage for saying the wrong thing – or not saying anything.
“From a marketer’s point of view, you just want to worry about the people you really want to help.”
Will suggests putting your stake in the ground. Call out who your message is for, and who it’s not for. Consider it a courtesy, a way to avoid wasting the wrong people’s time. At the same time, it can bring you closer to the people you do want to serve. Exclusivity can make your product more desirable.
Multi-channel marketing for the win
Companies using multiple channels in their marketing stand to get better returns. Multi-channel meaning, by the way, not just digital but going offline, sending things in the post.
2021 is going to be about customer experience, and the buying experience. The experience that happens even before someone turns into a customer, that’s going to be the biggest differentiator between businesses.
It means using sensible marketing, letting the algorithms and the platforms do their thing, having really good copy, having really strong stories and messages.
“It’s more about the experience now; it’s more about telling your story.”
Some parting thoughts
A final message would be to test more, from a human perspective. Be human. It’s more about the experience now, about telling your story. The platforms aren’t going to get any easier or cheaper. So you’ve got to be better and not reliant on someone else’s platform. Owning the racecourse is more powerful now than it’s ever been.
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