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  • Writer's pictureRichard

21 comms essentials for ‘21 marketing success

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

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

from anywhere

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. It'e time for less brand push

and more pull in the story modelling.

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 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.



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