Bill Swanston

2020 asked a lot of us as an agency and as human beings. We wore many hats for our clients, becoming cultural experts and social activists overnight, while maintaining some sense of a personal work/life balance during quarantine. As the days blurred into months, here are five of the biggest marketing lessons we learned in 2020 to safeguard and elevate your brand.

Expect the Unexpected
Change is bound to happen. Lean in, embrace it and use it to your client’s advantage. Our clients expect us to be nimble and flexible in every aspect of the job. From quickly reevaluating strategy and readjusting media plans to producing timely yet sensitive creative. Plan for the tight deadlines and even tighter purse strings, but also prepare contingency plans for a quick pivot.

Deep Dive Into the Data
Data is always king, and quite honestly, your best friend for life. It’s reliable and always there to support your every decision, reminding you when you’re not on brand and driving strategic results. It’s important to scrutinize data to truly understand what people are thinking about your brand right now. It holds the key to unlocking changing consumer insights on their buying patterns, behaviors and psyche.

Here’s an example of how we leveraged data to tap into the minds of consumers, quickly pivoting a brand campaign for a healthcare client:

  • March 2020 – Original ask was a warm message of support and community commitment
  • April – Pivoted to COVID-19 safety procedures and awareness
  • June – Considered a ‘Welcome Back’ message
  • July – Paused due to COVID-19 surge; Reverted back to support and commitment message
  • November – Cautiously reapproached a ‘Welcome Back’ message
  • January 2021 – Focused on vaccine adoption
  • Currently preparing for brand refresh launch in June with select service line messaging

Just as consumer perceptions changed quickly in 2020 week-to-week and month-to-month, so
should your marketing message. Evolve or die sounds a bit dramatic, but the sentiment proved
to be true this year, especially when it comes to messaging.

Message with Precision
Environmental, social and economic factors affect the mood, mindset and needs of your target audience. Marketers must be ready to react quickly both in the product/service offering and messaging. In some cases, this means knowing when to sell, be silent or show support.

When it comes to messaging, always use fresh terminology. We recommend retiring these overused phrases from your vocabulary:

  • unprecedented times
  • new normal
  • uncertain times
  • together apart
  • amid this global pandemic
  • now more than ever
  • in these trying times
  • out of an abundance of caution
  • our commitment to customers during COVID-19
  • in these challenging, difficult times
  • unchartered waters
  • as the distance between us grows
  • for more than [X] years, we’ve been here for you
  • we can still stay connected
  • we’ll get through this together
  • we promise to be here for you
  • alternative ways to connect with us

The germ of the idea “we’re all in this together” still resonates, but make sure you cater the message to fit your audience, your brand and current attitudes.

Experiment Often (but Scrupulously)
With every challenge comes several solutions. It’s important to discern when to play it safe and when to push the ultra-creative concept. While we do not recommend launching a comeback campaign in the midst of a global pandemic, we do recommend experimenting with ways to relevantly bring your brand to the forefront of the discussion.

Embrace the Power of People
One of the greatest lessons to fall out of 2020 is togetherness and the resilience of the human spirit. Working from home for the past year has given us the opportunity to connect with our clients on a personal level. We’ve met their families, helped solve their children’s math problems, swapped recipe secrets, offered a virtual shoulder of support and truly made lasting connections. We recommend you do the same.

Let Frederick Swanston help you navigate this brand-new world with effective, strategic, data-driven marketing. We’d love to get to know you. Contact us here.