Elke Farnworth
January 6, 2021

The more unpredictable the world is, the more we pay attention to predictions. At this point, we have to admit that we don’t know what we don’t know and if anyone thinks they can predict 2021 without including the chance of an alien invasion or Kanye West in the White House, then I’d question their validity! 
The fact is if we focus on the needs of our customer by communicating with value and at the right touchpoint, we can all prosper in this pandemic-impacted world.

So what now?

We’ve been dealt cards that we all have to contend with. While 2021 promises to be better than pandemic-pillaged 2020, economic recovery and a return to true normality will not be instant. In many ways our world has been permanently changed, we’re still working out if for better or for worse. The pandemic forced many people to change how they purchase, whether buying only the essentials or embracing online shopping.

The uncertainty about spending and consumption patterns has also shifted most people’s perspective on advertising: put simply, we’re less susceptible to BS so 2021 will see brands needing to stay top of mind with the right messaging and reinforcing their value via the right distribution channels.

The Word 

Trust is the foundation of any human relationship, especially in business. In the midst of the global crisis, the decline in the bond of trust has been accelerated. Yet a bond forged in turbulent times can be the strongest of all and if brands want to boost trust, they must demonstrate they are there when we need them. 

More than ever, relationships between consumers and brands also need to be more transparent. People review and praise products and services they trust and rip apart those who let them down. It also comes down to having accurate information. Brands in 2021 must ensure that their customers are dealing with facts and not fiction, real information and not a rumour. It’s not a time to hard sell, rather a time to reinforce your core values that define your organisation. This in turn, develops trust and trust is at the heart of brand loyalty.

With trust being such a big factor in 2021, managing your market position will require tools that help you gain more insight into where your money is going. Nothing is irrelevant when it comes to data and being informed is powerful for creating and honing your business goals. Data gathering and evaluation is a major focus at April Ford so we can assist our clients to optimise their marketing even more strategically in 2021.

The Value 

I’ve been talking about value in different contexts a lot lately but there’s a reason for it. People want to know that a company can truly give them what they need before making a purchase decision. Whether it’s solving a certain problem or simply increasing convenience, it should be clear what value a product or service can provide. 

Which brings me to my next point; personalisation will be another major focus in 2021 and for a good reason. Personalisation is better for both the consumer and the brand. Customers want to get promotions and offers that are relevant to them, and this goes beyond marketing to making it an opportunity at every touchpoint. You can capitalise on personalisation to create more meaningful experiences for customers by utilising:

  1. Data, data and more data. It all starts with data.
  2. Evaluate your customer persona, generate market segments. 
  3. Develop an agile strategy. 
  4. Invest in high quality content.
  5. Personalise as many touchpoints as you can.

Who brands are engaging with is just as important as what they are saying. Your scope has to go beyond exchanging business cards to building valuable relationships. Consumers know mainstream marketing strategies and are less likely now to resonate with general adverts, so it’s important that your brand present itself transparently. Public Relations will also matter in 2021 because it builds relationships and trust, fusing those so consumers will engage with your advertising. If you want to explore how to effectively develop your brand's PR aligned with your values, talk to us at April Ford; the head of our PR division, Rebecca Grisman, knows what works.

The Method 

Your brand is the sum of every perception of every experience associated with your company - in 2021 the media channels that you choose to bring your marketing strategy to life are just as important as the messages that you share through them.

We think video will continue to dominate in 2021, based on the meteoric rise of Tiktok and the introduction of Instagram Reels, the constant growth of Youtube and the evolution of LinkedIn. Video is taking centre stage as the most effective digital marketing method, because:

  • It makes people see your brand.
  • It makes people hear your brand's voice.
  • It helps people understand your brand’s ideas.

The pandemic has forced many brands to slash budgets and headcount but expectations for high quality advertising hasn’t evaporated. As 4K cameras become more mainstream and 5G rolls out, bringing higher quality video and photography and faster streaming to the masses, content marketing and advertising through video will become the new gold standard, so investing in production will be key to standing out.

Final Thoughts 

We can only operate in the world that exists in front of us. Right now, trying to predict what lies ahead is like hitting ‘send’ on your brand communications while blindfolded; there are too many variables as the world adapts alongside an evolving virus. 

The insecurities brought on by the global pandemic have created a deep need to connect with people. Customers are looking for qualities like care, sincerity and honesty in brands and it's critical to understand what your brand stands for, what its values are, and how to reach the kind of people in the world who share those values and your purpose. 

The coming months and years will present brands with an opportunity to prove that they can walk the talk. Consumers will remember which brands remained authentic through this time - not just those selling products more efficiently, but the ones who understood the world we are living in and helped to make it better.

The best is yet to come.