The Trends That Will Impact Marketing in 2021 [Part Three]


In this final installment of our marketing trends series, we will continue discussing why putting human needs first must be a part of your overarching 2021 business plan.

  1. Sales-Marketing Alignment Will Be Mission-Critical

Friction between sales and marketing is nothing new, but marketing automation has blurred the lines between generating and qualifying leads. In a remote working environment, and as increasing revenue becomes more difficult, aligning the two teams will be more critical than ever.

Why it matters:

Sales and marketing misalignment is the number one reason why an organization’s annual revenue is flat or worse, declines. This hurts your business. In fact, experts say organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing have higher customer retention rates, sales win rates and annual growth rates.

Misaligned sales and marketing teams are inefficient, ultimately wasting time creating content without a clear objective. The Content Marketing Institute reports that 60-70% of B2B content is never used because the subject topics are irrelevant to the buyer audience. While 79% of marketing leads never convert due to a failure to nurture consumer connections (HubSpot). When both teams are on the same page, it is less likely that work will go to waste.

What we are watching:

“Smarketing” promotes an integrated approach to achieve a common objective. Promoting products or services to potential consumers while at the same time integrating the sales activities can lead to annual revenue growth. Utilizing marketing buyer personas and customer journeys helps educate the sales team on who they are selling to and what they care about. Likewise, sales can provide valuable insight into the unique features and benefits of the products or services.

  1. Brands Will Cater to Consumers’ Anxieties

People are exhausted, anxious and unsure of what will come next. Some consumers made it through 2020 just fine, but others lost jobs and even family members. As marketers, we must be sensitive to those losses.

Businesses with brick-and-mortar channels such as banks and retail stores have adapted to the rapidly changing conditions. But one thing hasn’t changed: the need for an exceptional customer experience. Providing a customer-centric experience that addresses their peace of mind in this environment is invaluable.

Amazon is an excellent example of catering to consumer anxiety. Their ads have evolved from how they made the workplace safe for their employees to the current “Helping those in need” spot.

Why it matters:

Put simply, customer-centricity means treating customers as individual people rather than as an aggregate. Often people think of customer-centricity as customer service. Customer service is an essential element, but it’s not the whole picture. To be genuinely customer-centric, you must understand the customers’ motivations, mindsets and desired experiences. A gap occurs when the cumulative interactions a customer or potential customer has with a brand do not meet their expectations.

Customer-centricity isn’t just marketing jargon. It has a strong financial appeal for your business. One recent study indicated an increase in positive customer experience can lead to a substantial revenue increase. Other research shows companies lose revenue annually because they fail to provide a better customer experience. So, even though customer-centricity puts the customer first, it also enhances your bottom line.

What we are watching:

What your customer needs and wants are dramatically different than they were a year ago. Ensure that your automated campaigns (that tend to run on autopilot) aren’t sending tone-deaf messaging in this new environment. As your customers’ journeys and even their goals shift, consider which messages will add the most value. It’s easy for the connection between you and your customer to be broken. Customers feel overlooked, especially when they provide feedback and nothing happens.

Prioritize your content to reflect the current environment instead of bombarding customers with already scheduled new campaigns.

  1. Agility and Purposeful Reinvention

Plato was right: necessity is indeed the mother of invention. The biggest lesson learned in 2020 was having a strategy is excellent, but the ability to adapt and change your plans at a moment’s notice is essential.

Why it matters:

Out of pandemic-induced necessity, marketers rapidly adapted face-to-face interactions into virtual ones, creating and developing new and innovative ways of connecting with customers. The forced reactionary panic pivot must turn to ongoing, purposeful reinvention not only to engage your core audience but to attract new ones.

Survey results show the rapid consumer adoption of digital channels. These rates are years ahead of where they were when previous surveys were conducted. Survey respondents are three times more likely to say that at least 80% of their customer interactions are digital in nature.

What we are watching:

Staying competitive in this new economy and business environment requires new strategies and agility. Being agile is not about making it up on the fly — it’s about continually evaluating what you’re doing, how it’s working and making changes as you go. As you draft your marketing plans, consider not only what might need to change but how you might know when it’s time to make a change. As Barbara Kingsolver said, “The changes we dread most may contain our salvation.”

Uncertainty, social distancing and remote work still play a critical role in our eventual emergence from the pandemic; their side-effects are disengagement. Tapping into the human need is the overarching trend of 2021 to increase engagement and revenue.

Over 30 years of success in sales, multi-channel development and innovative fundraising have earned Summit Marketing a reputation as one of the nation’s most effective integrated direct-response marketing agencies. We produce strategies and tactics that inform, engage, inspire and move people to action.