How 2020 has reshaped the future of marketing


Geraldine Teboul reflects on how 2020 has reshaped the industry. From the rise of video to hybrid online and offline events and interdisciplinary job functions – what does the future hold for professional marketers?

Since COVID-19, marketing as we know it has changed forever.

Global economic turbulence, the rapid extinction of offline events and customer sentiment are among some of the leading change drivers in the emerging post-pandemic marketing landscape.

In August, the Reserve Bank of Australia predicted that by the year’s end, the economy would see a seven percent decline in household consumption and a 17 percent dip in business investment. These figures indicate that in 2021, consumers and companies alike will become more discerning about when and where they choose to spend their money.

This presents a new set of challenges and opportunities for the marketing role, namely around building brand trust among a digital generation marked by uncertainty.

An unprecedented event calls for an equally extraordinary reimagining of the marketing role. For organisations to stay visible and be successful, they must disrupt, innovate, get creative and activate all levels within the function.

Now begins a journey of permanent reinvention.

The event evolution

Naturally, as recurring lockdowns have kept consumers and business decision-makers home-bound, in-person marketing events have been eclipsed by digital offerings.

While smaller-scale physical events will likely see a rebirth post-vaccine, the future of globalised events is a hybrid model of virtual and in-person activations.

According to recent research, over 90 percent of event marketers plan to invest in virtual events moving forward, while 63 percent of organisations plan to move to digital conferences in the future.

As proximity is no longer a hindrance, organisations can now reach people from all corners of the world without significant cost and logistical challenges. Moreover, supported by the right technology, metrics around attendee engagement, satisfaction and feedback are instantly converted into data points, offering actionable insights and lead generation among a global audience base.

The future of the marketing role

In 2017, global research company Forrester predicted that in the years to come, major brands would replace CMOs with more hybrid, growth-focused marketing talent.

Three years later, that prediction was realised when Coca-Cola controversially ousted its marketing chief in favour of a growth-focused leadership hire. Since then, six Fortune 100 companies have followed suit.

Beyond the C-suite, COVID-19 has further evolved the hybrid marketer on an enterprise-wide scale, reshaping the future of the role to serve a largely digitised world.

Field marketers in particular, who would typically lead local strategy around events and trade shows, have experienced big changes within their function. With the future of in-person events hanging in the balance, field teams and digital teams will need to more than ever work hand in hand. Field will need to become more digital while digital will need to better understand the new field challenges.

Combining field marketing teams with both digital and sales teams encourages more upselling and cross-selling between functions. The result is more holistic and informed strategies around preventing customer churn, earning loyalty, and brand engagement.

In the future, this kind of cross-functional collaboration will become standard, and marketing will transition into an interdisciplinary practice – a balance of traditional, field and digital expertise to attract new accounts, contribute to lead generation, and play a more active role in customer engagement.

The modern customer

According to a McKinsey report, more than 75 percent of consumers switched to new brands during COVID-19, signalling a shake-up in customer behaviours. For marketers, this means building customer loyalty as brand trust and awareness is more important than ever.

To do this successfully, marketers need to be agile in how they adapt to behavioural patterns and trends. Streamlining the perfect buyer journey, ensuring a seamless end-to-end brand experience has become a key success factor to achieve buy-in and eventually, loyalty.

Lead nurturing and personalisation plays an important role here. Developing and reinforcing customer relationships at every touchpoint within the sales funnel creates long-lasting brand engagement.

For some marketers, this means unlearning old-school ‘push’ techniques in place of organic thought leadership, content creation or resources for customers to self-serve.

Remember, your customers are your most valuable asset – learn their marketing preferences, adapt accordingly, and be prepared for them to change again at a moment’s notice.

The value of video

In the past two years, worldwide video consumption has increased 52 percent. Why? Because video makes an experience more real and relatable to customers, leading to sky-high engagement levels.

In a study by Wyzowl, over 80 percent of marketers said that videos increased sales, boosted website traffic and helped them generate leads.

Part of the reason why it has such an impact is because marketers can create a strong sense of personalisation and incite emotion through video. This presents vast opportunities to deliver relevant and impactful content that serves varied target audiences the right message at the right time, no matter where they are in the world.

Despite recent evolutions within marketing, the essence of the role has not changed. Although our habits and practices might be adapting, at its heart, marketing is about staying close to your customers, listening to their needs, and delivering on promises – this will stand the test of time.

This article first appeared in

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