“Next year is going to be all about voice search. By year-end VR and the metaverse will be the fastest-growing ad medium. Print media is dead. Radio has had its day. Nobody watches TV anymore”.
Perhaps we’re just getting a bit older, and maybe a little wiser (…?) but we’ve heard all of this stuff before, many, many times. And forgive us a little eye roll now and again, when the latest new marketing trend is ‘going to change the way you do everything!’ – and then quietly disappears… remember Clubhouse anyone…? Our favourite might just be this list of no fewer than ONE HUNDRED predictions – well, some of them must come good… right?!
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it..?! So we’re going to have a look at some of the predictions from last year, and see how they panned out. Then we may even make a few predictions for the coming year… something for others to analyse and tear apart in a year’s time, no doubt…
Marketing Trends & Predictions 2021
They were made far and wide by all kinds of ‘experts’, but to narrow the field a little we’re going to focus on Forbes Magazine, Marketing Trends & prediction for 2021, and we’re going to bring our SME marketing lens to the table too.
1. Marketers will invest in direct relationships with their customers.
“Marketers will realize that the supply chain that needs to be most resilient is the chain that connects them to their customers and consumers and it is too risky to have Facebook, Google and others be the key gatekeepers.”
They go on to say that marketers will invest in ‘developing direct relationships through CRM’, partnerships, and investigating other platforms in addition to Facebook & Google.
Hmmm. Now for starters if you’re a growing business and you DON’T have any kind of CRM, database or disciplined way of managing all your contacts, prospects and customers, then you’re headed for trouble. At the very least, building and regularly using an email list is pretty basic stuff – hardly a ‘realisation’ for marketers in this day and age. And as for ‘investigating other platforms’ to market your products on? Surely part of your ongoing marketing review process. Overall, not really a prediction, and in fact something every good marketer should be doing anyway.
2. Technology will become the great equalizer for smaller businesses.
“The rise of software as a service (SaaS) applications for every function of a business and for businesses of every size… have created a great advantage for small businesses that would otherwise not be able to afford automation and access to sophisticated business analytics.”
Couldn’t agree more on this one although it’s not exactly news. The functionality small businesses can now access with a few subscriptions is unbelievable. Sign up to Mailchimp, Hootsuite, Unbounce, Google Analytics and Semrush – you’ve got access to an incredibly powerful marketing suite, that even big businesses wouldn’t fully utilise. Hardly a prediction, more just the continuation of an existing marketing trend…
3. Victory will go to the swift and adaptable.
Once again yes, we agree, being able to quickly change your operations, your product range, how you market and how you deliver you service offering is an extremely useful thing. Demonstrated by those who not only survived, but actually thrived in the last year or so. (Regular readers of our LinkedIn posts will have noticed that we’ve been talking about marketing’s contribution to ‘business resilience’ for the past year).
Once again, though, is it actually a prediction? Or is it the way it’s always been. Did Kodak adapt and survive quickly enough? What about Nokia? IBM? Hmm..next!
4. Decreasing marketing budgets.
“In 2021, marketers will experience budget cuts and even smaller teams. But, by doing this, companies are setting themselves up for failure. During an economic downturn, companies that pull back and starve marketing efforts, do not perform well.”
Keeping our small business marketing hat on, this was pretty accurate, depending on what industry sector we’re talking about ie it was patchy. Overall we saw a reduced amount of spend on marketing, however most business seem to be back to normal levels now, or even greater.
What we would qualify is the claim that by spending less you become less effective. This depends on timing. In our experience with less money to spend over a short period, you’re forced to become more inventive, smarter and creative. And when the budgets return, you take what you’ve learned and supercharge it. We’re rather pleased with how our clients have performed in the last year, and we’re sure they are too.
Having said that, you can’t cut your way to glory and permanent budget reductions definitely erode brand and business growth as many studies have shown. It’s a downward spiral you don’t want to be on.
5. More marketing integration ahead.
“We’ll continue to see marketers recognize the impact and importance of the physical touch. We’re going to see direct mail integrated into multichannel campaigns in a more mature manner than we’ve ever seen.”
It’s difficult to find any statistics on whether Direct Mail increased over the last year. Makes sense that with everyone at home, sending something in the post would be an obvious choice. Although expensive, direct mail can deliver the kinds of response rates that ‘digital’ marketers would flip their lids at – an average response rate of 9% for mailing to house lists, and about 5% for prospect lists.*
Was DM something that smart marketers were doing anyway? Most certainly. Was it a trend? Probably, but perhaps temporarily. Time will tell.
6. Informed buyers will want to buy from informed brands.
“This means evolving even beyond the age of personalization and entering an age of personal commerce, where consumers co-curate their experiences with brands to reflect their preferences at any given moment.”
What they’re saying is that we now expect a website/brand/business to remember what we’ve purchased in the past, what pages we’ve visited, and then combine that with all the other data points they can find – to suggest what would be useful to us in the future.
Now this is already brilliantly used by Amazon and other global behemoths, but for smaller marketers, it can be challenging to get it right. For the majority of SMEs out there, it depends on your business model. Online sales? Definitely, go for it.
For most organisations this all starts with working had on data. Get on top of your CRM for a start. Combine that with a sensible human being who can talk to people on the phone (while accessing the system) and even ‘John’s Plumbing Supplies’ has suddenly ‘entered the age of personalised commerce, where plumbers experiences are co-curated’.
“Ah David, yes I see you were in the other day and bought a Rheem 25 Litre Electric Storage Hot Water System 3.6KW, so you’re looking for a Hot Water Tray to go with it? I have the very one. Ready for you now for pick up.”
Marketing Trends & Predictions 2022
OK we’re done. Now it’s time to put our heads on the line, and make a few predictions for next year.
1. More of the same, but a bit faster
The fortune-telling business must have taken a real hit in the last few years, who could have predicted all of this?! One thing that does seem to hold, however, is that marketing trends, and all other business trends, in fact, have accelerated.
We were slowly, gradually working our way towards a more flexible working environment, but now it’s here and the genie can’t be put back in the bottle. Digital transformation was already a buzz word, and already happening, but now the ability to operate almost entirely online has been forced on businesses that never would have considered it before. More of the same, but faster. Feels like we’re moving at light speed already? Hang on, we suspect you ain’t seen nothing yet!
2. Morefads & silver bullets to avoid
Between now, and his time next year there will be at least three *new* amazing, ground-breaking platforms that will completely change your business. It will probably involve something about co-curating, or co-creation, or something like that. Three, folks. Three.
And none of them will change your business at all, in the least. Let’s see what happens.
Meantime a reminder: focus on your strategic fundamentals and don’t get distracted by faddish tactics.
3. Consumers will continue to preference convenience over privacy
Despite the constant barrage of bad news and unethical behaviour from Facebook, it will continue to grow, and remain most prominent social networking site on the planet.
How many more ‘shocking’ revelations…? We’re going for another two!
4. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
‘50% of people who saw a marketing video went on to make a purchase.’
I saw this online the other day, and quite frankly, almost ruined my computer by splurting coffee all over it. So this is my final marketing trend and prediction: there will be lots more outlandish and spurious claims about marketing made in the coming year.
But if you retain a modicum of common sense, then you’ll navigate through it all fine.
What do you think folks, shall we revisit in a year to see..?
All the best for 2022 in the meantime.