Future of Marketing: What to Expect in 2021 and Beyond

If you told me this time last year that I would soon be required to lock myself indoors for the best part of a year and only to speak to our team through Zoom, I’d have probably had a minor meltdown. I imagine you would have, too.

But despite its challenges and often painful circumstances, I find myself grateful for the perspective this past year has brought me. There's nothing like a global pandemic to make you realise a few things, is there?

While I have to admit that the past twelve months have featured a few too many sleepless nights for my liking, they've also brought focus, clarity and a renewed sense of ambition.

That brings me to the focus of this blog: the future of marketing in 2021 and beyond. We've all gone through an immense period of change in just a few short months. It's no wonder that our marketing approach has changed too.

We've seen a huge shift in organisations' priorities, culture and vision since the start of the pandemic, both client and agency-side. Embracing change will not only help us to survive the next year; it will allow us to thrive.

 

Future of Marketing | Do Things Differently

In the wise words of RuPaul Charles, "The world's about to end. If there was ever a time do your thing, it's now."1 Granted, RuPaul was talking about enhancing one's drag performance, but the sentiment applies to the world of marketing, nevertheless.

Now is the time to take risks. Bolder campaigns. Braver experiments. Greater conviction. It's time to bring into fruition that creative concept that's been brewing for years or try out that adventurous idea that's so crazy it just might work.

After months of the same (In these challenging times... Now, more than ever... Let's stay connected while we're apart...), people are craving something - ANYTHING - different. A creative, authentic and, crucially, different approach will prevail this year.

 

Future of Marketing | Do Better Work

When I said I wanted time to think about Moment's next steps, a months-long lockdown wasn't what I had in mind. I'd pictured mulling things over on a beachside retreat or perhaps a Caribbean cruise. Last year was less Costa del Sol and more Costa del Sofa, but I was still able to reflect on my big ambitions for our small agency. I'll be sharing exciting news about Moment's future with you soon, including more on our latest venture, Moment Energy.

The biggest takeaway from my time of reflection was this: I want us to keep doing better work. If that sounds familiar, it's because you've heard it before. A thousand times. Agencies constantly claim that they're committed to doing 'better'. But better than what? Without assigning value to 'better,' it's just another meaningless term.

Here's a thought: what if 'better' could be measured? Well, reader, we have the technology.

As we recently outlined in our blog on modern marketing, outcome rather than output, should be marketers' focus. We can now measure the effectiveness of practically every marketing activity, and if it's not helping to meet our clients' objectives, we can tell pretty much straight away.

Coupling good work with strong digital and data analysis capabilities will help to determine once and for all whether our work is getting better results for the businesses we support.

 

Future of Marketing | Change With the Culture

The only constant in life is change: that's been reaffirmed lately. Developments in political, social and world health events have caused turbulence for brands in every sector. As millennials' purchasing power rises and Gen Z comes of age, we're seeing a transformation in consumer expectations. Brands now need to demonstrate that they are 'good' in the moralistic sense.

As Brand24 notes: "Consumers these days expect brands to respond to their emotional needs, contribute to local and international communities, stand for a cause, and support great ideas."2 Today, it's easier to learn how our spending habits impact the causes we care about. And we're voting with our money. Increasingly, consumers want to buy from brands that make them feel virtuous by-proxy.

What does that mean for marketers? ServiceChannel CMO, Seema Kumar explains: "Marketers will need to guide their companies to determine the issues they care about and can be truly committed to. Brands increasingly wield influence — expect to see more and more of them using that power for the good of society and not just more profit."3

Meeting the needs of a changing culture necessitates a culture change for brands, too. Businesses must reflect and make meaningful, not ceremonial adjustments.

That's something Moment's been working hard to address. We're increasing the number of sustainable businesses we work with. Our new offshoot, Moment Energy, focuses on sustainable and renewable initiatives while we're helping luxury brands redefine what indulgence looks like to the conscious consumer.

 

Future of Marketing | Keep Looking Ahead

Eating your greens. 7am jogs. Getting a good night's rest. We all know that long-term results rely on the choices we make in the short term. Right now, when it feels like we are rushing to put out fires, long-term thinking feels impossible. But now is the right time to look ahead.

Writing in Campaign, Sheryl Marjoram says: “We’re living in a cool zone. A time that is truly uncomfortable to live through but excellent to read about later. A time where chaos gives way to regeneration, reconfiguration and a revitalised way of being." Later, she notes: “Whatever we don’t change now is a conscious choice we will live with.”4

In a time of transformation, we have license to ask ourselves, where are we going? Do we like the direction we're heading in? Should we change course? It's an ideal time to throw out outdated practices to make way for new approaches that benefit us long-term.

 

Future of Marketing | Be Flexible With Clients

It's not an easy time easy for agencies, but things aren't easy for clients either. Although marketing is a vital activity during a time of crisis, clients have about a thousand other issues to contend with at the moment.

Flexibility will be a virtue this year as sudden shifts in client requirements will see agencies pivoting their activity to accommodate them. This isn't an easy way to work, particularly for those used to working months in advance. But understanding our clients' challenges and working hard to develop the solutions, even if that means a change of plan, will go a long way.

The real challenge is changing tacts whilst continuing to align communications to clients' strategic visions. For advice on how to do that, read the latest Moment blog on marketing communications in 2021.

 

Next Steps

There's no way around it: 2020 was rough. We'll forever remember it as the year we felt the world was ending. But this year could be a turning point. Perhaps we'll look back at 2021 as the year meaningful marketing took hold, to the benefit of consumers, clients and agencies alike.

Need support transforming your company's marketing? Get in touch with the Moment team.

 


 

Sources

  1. BBC iPlayer (RuPaul’s Drag Race UK)

  2. Brand 24

  3. Forbes

  4. Campaign