14 guidelines for adapting to the abruptly changing marketing industry
As COVID-19 shifts the way the world functions, it is also shifting how advertising and marketing assets are created and implemented. People are spending more time at home and their needs have changed. Marketing professionals must adapt to this new normal and deliver campaigns that speak to consumers’ current experiences.
The members of Ad Age Collective understand the importance of embracing these changes, not just now, but in the future as the industry evolves. We asked 14 of them to share how their field is pivoting in the long term, and how they plan to find success in this new landscape.
1. Understand new consumer habits.
Adaptability is more important than ever. The current pace of change requires brands to be fast and flexible. When you take the essential first step to understand new consumer habits, only then can you adapt your advertising to reach people in ways that will meet their needs. Advertisers need to stay focused on the customer, even as they change, and find media partners who can help them do that. - Cathy Oh, Samsung Ads
2. Embrace the creative renaissance.
On the downside, the ad industry remains exclusive and has not embraced AI or employment trends as quickly as it should. On the upside, now that the technology plumbing that was needed to connect disparate media and creative systems and teams is now largely done and millennials and Gen Z are joining the ranks, we have entered a fantastic creative renaissance! - Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide
3. Use data insights as your North Star.
Unfortunately, leads are still the guiding light for a majority of companies today -- but our buyers need more from us. As marketing evolves into the new normal, we’ll see more teams using data insights as their North Star to customer engagement. Marketers will start evaluating their pipeline and use critical buyer intent data to drive their revenue growth forward. - Latane Conant, 6sense
4. Know the unit economics of your capabilities.
Agencies have for years built out forward-looking capabilities on the guarantees of large AORs, often with new capabilities being loss leaders for a time. Given the month-to-month and quarter-to-quarter orientation of client spending in the current economy, agencies will need to understand the unit economics of specific capabilities and grow with an eye toward profitable near-term capabilities. - Moira Vetter, Modo Modo Agency
5. Seek out creatives who are authentic and multi-faceted.
The creative role is changing most. The required skill set has shifted radically. It used to be that the storytelling was done by folks with the craft and skills to make tiny movies called ads. Now a creative person needs to be a social detective, a spy in the house of data, a behavioral tactician and be willing to shed award-friendly artifice for authenticity, even when that's not always pretty. - Scott Montgomery, Bradley and Montgomery (BaM)
6. Pay attention to changing media consumption habits.
The new landscape will be an evolving target as worldwide "staying at home" will evolve how we work and live life. When and how we consume media will change too. Success will be defined by keeping pace with this evolution, and messages that are more relevant and less disruptive will resonate. "Scream and tell" advertising to buy a visit may get ignored, but "content I want to know" will win. - Arjun Sen, ZenMango
7. Change your messaging and imagery to match changing daily life.
It’s essential to change your messaging and imagery to ensure it matches the massive shifts in customers' everyday lives. There is a marketing opportunity to feature products that can help customers during this difficult, uncertain time. There’s a difference between fear-mongering and offering a product that will truly make someone’s day, week or life better, and customers know the difference. - Warren Jolly, adQuadrant
8. Be flexible.
Flexibility in how we service accounts, build teams, buy and/or engage media and diversify creatively will be much more critical as we move forward. The new normal is teaching us to strategically shift on a moment’s notice and to listen to all stakeholders all of the time. By building processes and teams that can flex and approaching creativity from all stakeholder points of view, we will find success. - Maggie O'Neill, Peppercomm
9. Get ready to change how you collect and use consumer data.
As privacy concerns grow, advertisers will find that collecting data and personalization will get harder. We need to be prepared with changes regarding the way we collect and use people's data. It's important to look into AI tools, especially around contextual intelligence so that we can place ads and target users based on the content of a page over how a user behaves. - Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
10. Market yourself through social messaging apps.
Social messaging apps will grow as advertising spread dips due to the lack of demand. This is a good time to advertise because you will get better rates on pay-per-click ads. As more people are feeling isolated from the mandatory shutdowns, they will turn to other resources to seek connection. See if you can conduct marketing with these apps to reach your audience remotely. - Duran Inci, Optimum7
11. Invest in content marketing and owned media.
Content marketing and owned media will continue to rise. It is getting easier and more important for brands to be able to produce and deliver their own content. This is especially true in B2B marketing where the value propositions can be more complicated or nuanced. - Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)
12. Rethink your product and service offerings for the modern world.
Product offerings need to be rethought (for instance, alcohol companies making sanitizer and clothing companies making masks) and brand marketing must become a concierge service connecting a consumer need with a viable solution in real time as needs continue to evolve. The most successful brands will co-create solutions with those who will use the product or service. - Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute
13. Be agile, but thoughtful and calculated.
Adapting at every corner is critical at this point where things are changing every day. Don’t get stuck in any form of how we "used" to do things either in the workplace or media environment. Be agile and adapt quickly when appropriate, but continue to be thoughtful and calculated with decisions that will have a large impact on your brand. - Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
14. Go back to basics.
Advertising needs to return to the fundamentals. As the tools evolve at an increasingly rapid pace, coupled with a shift in brands bringing marketing roles in-house, agencies need to return to the fundamentals of how to generate long-term advertising success. This involves a return to psychology as the driving factor behind why people purchase one product over another. - Patrick Ward, Rootstrap