Not too many of us still remember the marketing challenges that followed the Spanish Flu of 1918, but it’s been said that billboards changed forever after that. Surely, we can expect similar challenges today, right? Like the Starbucks ideally located next to several downtown office buildings that suddenly went dark for about six months. But then challenges always create room for opportunities.
It’s the nature of the marketing professional to adapt, and those who get to the new reality quicker tend to make the money. Now that a reopened planet is bringing ad dollars out of mothballs, where will this money get spent in 2022? Will the old messages be comforting and therefore enough or have new habits developed to the point of no return?
Here are some opportunities to look for in 2022.
Hybrid Events Will Remain
There’s nothing like a live event. But when holding no event at all is the alternative, a hybrid event can help to serve everyone. Over the past two years, virtual events became a standard solution for engaging with customers and leads. Now that the world is opening up again, a mix of virtual and in-person will be the norm. Even without lingering restrictions and fears, there will be those who have changed their travel habits, who are increasingly comfortable with what they get virtually or who might still “get out” but less than before.
In-person events will have a strong digital component, and technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality can create an immersive experience for those who prefer couch conferences. Being “forced” to create a hybrid event also creates an opportunity to do something with the speakers and sessions that were recorded. Now you have content you might not otherwise have had to deliver in smaller pieces as a part of other education and marketing endeavors.
Increased spending on social media and other digital platforms helps drive traffic to these events and makes them successful.
More Leads, Fewer Dollars
As the competition for qualified leads get more competitive, the cost of obtaining those leads goes up like with Google and Facebook ads. In 2022, savvy marketers will find less expensive ways to generate leads. Some of these include networking on LinkedIn or holding interactive webinars and virtual conferences. A referral from a good client is one of the best and cheapest leads. Reaching out to former clients is another great idea; they already know you and may not know what you have been up to lately.
It will remain important to deliver value to your prospects before you can expect to make a sale. If we expect to get a name and cell phone number so that we can text them about our newest product, we’d better be willing to give them something significant in return. Adding more names to the top of your funnel for less than the other guy is the path to success for any marketing team.
It’s great that there are now many channels to get in front of prospective customers. No longer do you have to hope that they all drive past your one billboard. Now that we can gain access to our customers through emails, SMS, website personalization, push notifications and so on, the challenge becomes keeping your message consistent and clear.
The reality is that the customer journey may frequently cross channels and experience your brand at different times, on different channels, and with different levels of engagement. The challenge will be to create a unified and personalized customer experience based on their specific interests and informed by past encounters across all of your digital touchpoints.
This endeavor is a complex one and where your friendly neighborhood digital marketing agency can really help.
Become the Thought Leader
It’s quite noisy out there, and your customers are being exposed to thousands of advertisements a day. To stand out, let them know the great value your business can bring to them. One of the advantages of having lots of different channels to communicate in is that you can display your particular expertise be it in a tutorial video, series of white papers, infographics, Q&A sessions, whatever.
When you are the thought leader in your industry, the people come to you, you don’t have to look around for them. Educating people is a lot more agreeable than the “hard sell.” The value of the education lubricates the relationship, and the result is a more informed public and one that is more convinced that it is to you that they need to return.
Tell Your Story
The best commercials, the ones that we remember year after year are the ones that tell stories, delightful, funny, or heartfelt. For 30 to 60 seconds, we entered another world and were captured by it. And then we went straight out and bought a Hallmark card or a Coke or a pair of Nikes. Telling stories is another soft-sell technique that brings the customer in to your domain and shows them around a bit.
Rather than saying “We make good product, you buy,” we never let their sales-resistant armor raise up because they never think that they are being sold to. And yet the sale that is taking place is at a much deeper level, it’s more powerful connecting a product or service to a human in a very personal way.
And the branding that can result from the connection of a story to a logo to a catch phrase or jingle is powerful enough that we can all quickly remember great marketing campaigns and the impact they had on us.
It’s getting harder to get noticed in the digital space because of all the traffic and yet some of the old techniques of yesteryear still apply. While a changing world means challenges to marketers, it also brings about new opportunities. Success in 2022 will be found in combining some of the old standards of storytelling and establishing your expertise along with the challenges of speaking clearly and consistently across all channels. The customer experience that results from accomplishing this will lead directly to loyal customers and steady sales.