Keeping up with marketing advancements is a full-time job. It wasn’t that long ago when it took weeks (if not months) to roll out a new print ad or brochure. Today, you’re lucky to blink before a new marketing request for your team appears.
We asked nine marketing professionals across an assortment of industries and specialties to tell us what trends they predicted would emerge in 2020. Below are their responses.
1. Focus on Intentional Content.
With social media, businesses of all sizes often jump right to tactics instead of plotting out the big picture. Tactics are actions. They can sometimes produce tangible short-term results, giving the impression that something bigger is being accomplished. In 2020, companies will start thinking more like a brand and with intentionality for their social media content. They’ll share customer and employee videos of their “WHY,” including stories of empathy, positivity, or social impact. The bigger picture for social media is creating content focused on building raving fans for the brand to amplify word-of-mouth marketing.”
—Jeremy Miller, Vice President of Marketing, The STARTedUP Foundation, Inc.
2. Increased Value of a Strong Employer Brand.
B2B service-oriented businesses will continue to recognize the value of a strong employer brand and its influence on clients, employees, and the ability to grow the organization. Designing an experience for candidates, employees, and the community that shares what makes an organization special and helps individuals make informed decisions about whether they want to work for or with a company will rise to the top of the priority list. Executing an exceptional brand will require both strong collaboration between Marketing and Talent departments as well as building and engaging brand advocates across the organization.
—Mary Catharine Grau, Vice President of Brand, KSM Consulting
3. Entertain an Audience With Design.
From a design perspective, things like illustration and animation will be huge trends in 2020. They add a certain human touch that makes brands feel less cold, sterile, and like they’re just coming after your money. People in the U.S. have been sold to for generations and innately have a disdain for it. Entertaining your audience in exchange for their attention and time seems to be a better approach and animations, illustrations, comics, and memes—especially on social media—do just that.
—Byron Elliott, Illustrator/UI Designer, Casted
4. Provide Legitimate Value.
Marketers should spend less time focusing on their message to consumers and spend significantly more time curating opportunities and reasons for people to talk about their brand. Marketing used to make a promise for operations to make good on, but now, smart marketers need to support operations by enhancing the consumer experience in ways that generate buzz and strengthen brand equity. Any messaging that does not add value to the end consumer is a waste of time and money. Brands that win in 2020 will be those that stop selling to their prospective customers and start providing legitimate value with no strings attached.
—Bryn Jones, Vice President of Marketing + Retail, Huse Culinary Restaurant Group
5. True Commitment to Inclusive Marketing.
Inclusive marketing is my major prediction for 2020. Gone are the days of customers being willing to overlook not seeing themselves in marketing campaigns. This is not only about what images you use in your campaigns, but also about which audiences are included in your research and test groups. Diversity in decision-making and who is truly listened to when making final decisions about campaigns is a major factor. Representation starts well before anything hits the public, and it’s imperative if companies want to stay alive and grow. Truly understanding inclusive marketing is absolutely key!
—Kimberly Crowder, Founder, Kim Crowder Consulting
6. Emergence of a Centralized B2B Podcast Platform
My prediction for 2020 is that B2B companies will continue to double down on podcasts as part of their marketing strategy. According to a study by Edison Research, one-quarter of Americans now listen to podcasts at least once per week and that number is expected to continue to grow. As a result of all the attention, I predict that a company will come forward to focus on centralizing all of this B2B audio content. Similar to how LinkedIn created a social network for professionals, we will see something similar for business to business podcasts.
—Fabian Rodriguez, Co-Founder, Producer, Interviewer, Drink Culture Podcast
7. Realization that Personalization is Mandatory.
For a decade, we have been talking about personalization. The difference is that in 2010, it was optional. In 2020, it’s mandatory. We’ll see this play out in a variety of applications. From personalized greetings in email subject lines, to variable data in the body of the email, to one-to-one messaging on social platforms, companies can no longer take a one size fits all approach to messaging. While this is driven by Gen Z coming of age with their higher expectations, consumers of all ages are demonstrating preferences for content that is just for them.
—Lorraine Ball, Owner, Roundpeg + Podcast Host, More Than A Few Words
8. Conversational Content Takes the Throne.
The traditional playbook for content marketing is outdated. It puts a high-volume, SEO-centric content at the center of the strategy and only leaves room for richer, more authentic content like podcasts and videos on the periphery. In 2020, a new approach will put meaningful conversations at the center. It goes something like this. 1) Have a great conversation with a subject matter expert. 2) Record it and turn it into a video and/or podcast. 3) Spin all of your supplemental content- blog posts, social media posts, email content, etc.- out of that recording. Just think how much more efficient, effective, and engaging your content will be!
—Lindsay Tjepkema, Co-Founder + CEO, Casted
9. The Merging of UX and Marketing.
The biggest trends I’m seeing from a UX perspective really is the merging of UX and marketing when it comes to the product. Whereas there used to be a very clear separation between conversion (the buyer) and actually using the product (the user), these lines are blurring. A user’s first interaction with your product is now when they do a google search. B2C companies have been doing this for a long time, but B2B companies are now starting to institute these practices in the form of product-led growth. The goal is to grow virally among users and spread within an organization before the sales team ever makes contact. Slack is a great example of this. Their brand and marketing aren’t focused on the buyer (the CIO), but the users, who may not write the checks, but love of the product and build support from the ground up. An amazing user experience is critical to product-led growth; users won’t share something that isn’t great.
—Anna Eaglin, Principal Product Partner, Innovatemap
Thank you to all the contributors for sharing your insight with us! We love talking about marketing trends and, more importantly, how to incorporate them into your long-term strategy.