The biggest challenges facing marketers and agencies in 2021

Earlier in the year, we looked at some of the exciting marketing trends we see emerging in 2021. There’s a lot of reason for optimism, and shrewd marketers and agencies are poised to grow their base by adapting and innovating in this dramatically different consumer environment.

That’s not to say there won’t be challenges along the way. Consumer confidence is a shadow of its former self; Canadians have stopped stockpiling toilet paper and pasta sauce, hoarding their savings instead. A CIBC Capital Markets report issued at the end of last year estimated that households and businesses are sitting on over $170-billion in excess cash!

Until the vaccines enjoy a wider distribution and the COVID-anxiety fades away, marketers and agencies will have to manage their budgets wisely. On the agency side, design firms will be challenged to deliver even greater value for money. We see this being achievable largely on the back of digital marketing. SEO/SEM, landing-page promotions with built-in list-building tools, email campaigns, and A/B testing all represent exceptional value for money, and the agencies adept in this digital landscape are poised to help their clients navigate better through compressed budgets.

One of the bigger challenges facing marketers right now is simply remaining visible amidst all the pandemic noise. It’s a highly distracting world right now, and this is something we all battle against at times. However, there are proven brand awareness tools at your fingertips – and now would be the perfect time to up your game to enhance your visibility.

Recalibrating your social media strategy is a great place to start, especially with social media use back on the rise. Some suggestions you could consider include

  • increasing your post frequency;
  • increasing your social media channel coverage (such as adding TikTok or Snapchat to your portfolio – while taking into consideration the different user demographics); and
  • putting the “social” back into social media by inviting conversations and responding earnestly to individual users.

These are all very budget-friendly solutions that can help your brand retain or regain top-of-mind.

Another smart way to allocate your valuable marketing dollars is through email outreach. Which has long been one of the most cost-effective ways for brands to market themselves, an effective email strategy can remind your customers that you’re there – even if they’re not ready to hand over their hard-earned dollars. You don’t even need to have an immediate sales objective behind your email campaign; there are many ways to reach out to your customers and just “check-in” to keep your brand relevant. Some of these include:

  • informational emails on ways to use your product or service that the customer may not have thought about;
  • follow-up emails asking how they enjoyed using your product or service (you could even nudge toward a Google review, with or without a promotional/prize element); and
  • a general brand-driven communication that reminds your customers why you are so great.

Any of these ideas – and more – can keep your brand on your customers’ radars and add greater value to their daily lives.

While the #AllInThisTogether movement may have lost some steam, the sentiment still has legs when it comes to the marketer/agency dynamic. The best way to problem-solve and forge a new way forward in this rapidly evolving reality is to get together (virtually… for now) and brainstorm together on new ideas and opportunities. This teamwork dynamic could yield some surprisingly fresh ideas and solutions, combining strength with strength, while solidifying the relationship. A unified approach can also help shine a stronger light on the way forward throughout the remainder of 2021 and beyond. Just remember that in a brainstorm session, not every idea is good but nothing is a waste of time. A bad idea could still be the creative spark needed to create a good one.

Over the past year, both marketers and agencies have enjoyed the good fortune of being able to work from home. And while there are certainly challenges to this arrangement (in work and in life), it’s also changed the way the agency fits in the whole big-picture marketing puzzle. What’s the difference between an in-house agency and an external supplier? There’s no difference right now when it comes to communication and collaboration; everyone is now a phone call or Zoom call away. The spontaneous problem-solving an internal team could provide is gone, which has levelled the playing field. Meanwhile, an external agency could well provide greater agility in the marketing strategies and solutions offered, unencumbered by internal personnel or procedural limitations.

In this light, hopefully the challenges endured over the past year have given rise to a new, more holistic and fluid relationship between marketers and agencies. Your agency partner currently occupies the same theoretical space as that co-worker down the hall. As a boutique agency, MHz Design has historically enjoyed tremendous success in breaking down the walls between the client/supplier relationship, which has made it easier for us to deliver and over-deliver for our clients throughout this challenging period in marketing history.

The Takeaway

Just because deals aren’t closing at the same rate as they did in 2019 and consumer spending is down doesn’t mean marketers should continue to stick their head in the sand and wait the pandemic out. The time to re-connect or increase your connection with your customers and potential customers is now. If you don’t, one of your competitors will. Contact MHZ Design to brainstorm your way out of today’s challenging marketing landscape. We can offer a fresh perspective, new ideas and creative strategies that have already proven successful in this new reality. We look forward to supporting you with cost-effective solutions that can offer a significant return on investment.

Contact MHZ Design to start the conversation about innovative ways of improving your customer engagement strategy for your business.

Angelo Perri

Angelo Perri is the founder and CEO of MHZ Design Communications, a customer engagement agency located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Connect on Linkedin.