21 comms essentials for ‘21 marketing success
Updated: Oct 11
New rules, needs, outlooks and opportunities need refreshed creative scope and recut strategic thinking. 2021 is here in planning terms, and there is much to soak up from the unprecedented times of this year, and marketing thinking needs retooling to be relevant and resonant for the now. So for starters, as it is a list to build on, here are 21 punchy thoughts and strategies that complement other and create a strong foundation for effective cut through.
1 Brand behaviour matters. Be accountable. Do the right thing.
Customers increasingly care how you behave, how you treat your staff, what
you stand for, how you do business as a corporate citizen. Transparency is
important, sharing more of what you are about as a business is important,
giving something back to your community matters. Marketing in three
dimensions needs to be your focus.
2 Avoid bandwagons unless you can join credibly
Meaningless contributions to trending topics can backfire. Just ask some of
the beauty companies who came out as supporting Black Lives Matter, only
to be shamed by BAME models who had had very different experiences
working for them. Support what is important if you can do so with
substance, action or at least a track record of being onside.
3 Prioritise internal comms. Explain, share, involve
Linked in have revealed a third of us are looking for new jobs, including
those fortunate to not have been affected by COVID. So something is
wrong in how we are looking after our staff. 'Explain' so they trust where
you are at; 'Share' for comfort and to make a positive contribution to
mental health in confusing times; involve because we are all in this together
and both great ideas and your great storytelling ambassadors can come
4 Use employees as part of your storytelling
Back to the point around customer interest in your business practices. If
this can be genuine, natural and it helps to show your business in action,
we should never forget people buy people. So for your social channels, for
your news stories, for your brand experiences, look within to be 'real'.
5 Make your values external through purpose
Internal values are great but they need now to be worn as a badge of pride
for outside audiences too. Every business needs a purpose, a sense of
emotional drive beyond the product or service, and an illustration of
corporate heart and soul. And this purpose that brands are increasingly
seeking has to start from within, and not from a marketing agency idea. We
can certainly built an idea outwards, but the start spark is what matters.
6 Show business pride to build trust
Confidence is a good thing in tough times so don't be shy in being proud
and sharing what is going well or how you are helping people,
7 Rediscover your ownable fame factor
This may be a constant and may not change. But if you don't look at it and
ask yourself if it still feels relevant and valuable for now, you may miss a
shift opportunity to shape new strength.
8 Up the live listening
Always important, and not to be mistaken for focus groups, where the
manufactured nature can sometimes skew the learnings. Social monitoring
allows for specific themes, generic trend spotting, and real world
perspectives to provide the live data that matters. Topical can be critical for
9 Be personal in tone
Are you a 'we' brand or a 'corporate name' brand. Which is right for which
opportunity, story or need? Which will deliver authority and which will
deliver attitude? There may be room for both, but personal branding is a
significant growth area of communication that help leaders add extra
cut through for the brand.
10 Deliver quality over quantity in content
There was been a lot of wallpaper marketing. Bland. Forgettable.
Functional. It's time to add more filtering and focus on what will have a
richer reaction. Less can be more
11 Micro target potentially loyal groups
Mass reach marketing? Or smaller focused more personal reach to tighter
communities who may respond extremely well to tailored communication
shared their way? Relevance in thinking the key strategy here
12 Build and serve communities
Social followings need valuable content, actionable content and useful and
generous sharing of information from brands. Lockdown and Covid times
have shown how the combination of 'education and entertainment' has won
through in the content space, and loyalty flows from that. Think even more
audience first for a shift in what you produce
13 Think local, it’s where people ‘are’
The rise of localism is a powerful trend. More time at home, less
commuting, more local information, and more local heroes that we have
supported all drive towards entrenchment and support for local or
perceived local products and services. For local businesses this is clearer,
but for national brands grassroots thinking needs to more be in the mix
14 Deliver a sense of emotional rescue. Storytelling matters
Marketing has relied a lot on frequency of visibility metrics, and although
that wont be ignored as a measurable fundamental, poor content that
doesn't drive an emotional reaction makes the measure numeric rather
than deep and meaningful. Controversial perhaps when this is the way of
the world and is why money is spent where it is spent, but if the measure is
more about sharing and discussing and doing something active because the
creative heart has triggered an emotional reaction, then the reach numbers
become more relevant. And the channel mix to use becomes more open
ended. Less is more again. And after the past months of fear and misery, the
feel good factor needs to be front and centre.
15 Stay relevant and mirror the audience
Listen. Watch. Emphasise. React smartly.
16 Bring the (virtual) brand theatre . We need the colour back
We don't know when normality will return to retail, entertainment, or
brand experiences. But rather than sit back and wait, we need to find ways
to make these worlds more virtual, engaging, and interactive. Tech and
digital enablement can land on different scales, and we need to move
beyond the static messaging to enthuse and drive purchases for now and
for the futire, when people may not rush back to old ways of doing things
when home comforts dictate.
17 Lead with sustainability journeys. This is the decade of delivery.
And the decade of no excuses. You don't have to be perfect yet, but you do
have to show you are taking things seriously, that you have a plan for action,
and that you are being front foot when all the expectations of multiple
audiences are on that page and quite possibly ahead of you.
18 Build storyteller partnerships
You don't have to storytell all by yourself. Influencers have been reborn in
lockdown as more values driven and less surface, with changed and even
more positive follower relationships. Brands can link up in shared and
complimentary spaces. People you have helped might be advocates in
waiting. Think afresh about how is credible in which spaces to help in
reinvented times, and shape potential partnerships for the long term and
not just for the moment.
19 Engage with everyone who engages. We trust listeners.
Personal. Interested. And Interesting 'My kind of brand'.
20 It’s not about awareness, it’s about understanding
Thats the mantra for the new world. We want to think about it, get it,
believe it. It's time for less noise and more value delivery in our messaging.
21 Stay agile. Be front foot, topical, and less tied down
Brand planning and thinking can traditionally start four months before the
start of the next year, and is a process that expects knowledge of what will
be right 15 months from now. We now don't know what to exact 15 days
from now...so although some marketing channels of course need planning,
negotiating, buying or content shaping ahead of the game, not all do.
Storytelling, PR, social content creation need to be seen as a more
important, more impactful, and more nimble option in the marketing mix.
Education on the right things, entertainment with an appropriate tone,
timing to match the real world, and much more live listening in the strategy.
There may be 21 comm essentials shared here, but this last part can be the
beating heart of many of them.
I’d love to debate, discuss, build more colour around or increase the list of strategic thoughts here, so please hit me up to chat.