March 11, 2021
1. Three months into 2021, have you noticed any change in how clients are planning their year from a marketing and advertising standpoint?
It’s definitely starting to feel a lot more like normal, at least in terms of volume. And for many clients, messaging is now focused on the future and not their reaction to the pandemic. I think for the most part, we as marketers have realized that people are done hearing brands acknowledge the hard and unprecedented times and are now looking to brands for hope and promise in the future.
I would also say that the willingness to plan outside of digital-only is growing. For obvious reasons many people’s gut reaction was to move away from direct mail, especially in the B2B space, and even reduce or eliminate OOH and experiential. These are items that are back on the plans now, for a number of reasons:
We’re also seeing a number of brands take this time to plan for updates to their identity, messaging, campaigns and even refresh websites and collateral. With the promise of vaccines on the horizon, many want to be ready for a re-opening and a resurgence in the economy.
2. As Canada begins to roll out of the COVID-19 vaccines, how do you think marketing communications will change over the course of the year?
There are really a number of ways I see marketing communications evolving over the next year and beyond.
To begin with, I think marketers will have to adapt to new hybrid working models. From a B2B perspective, office workers may not actually be in the office, so finding new ways to reach them will be key, at home, in the office, at a coffee shop around the corner, or even across the globe on a beach in Thailand. For B2C marketers, understanding that consumer work habits are shifting too, with long commutes on public transit and highways diminishing for many, the opportunities to connect using OOH are changing. I don’t think these opportunities will go away completely, but there will be less frequency of exposure to some of these traditional channels.
That being said, the immediate solution many will adopt is to double down on digital, assuming you can reach people no matter where they are through a digital channel, and to some extent that is true. But I also think people are suffering from digital burnout. 8-10 hours of zoom time or online school is taking its toll and driving people to turn off as soon as they can. So, looking for more creative solutions to getting your message out will be very important. I think when vaccines are finally in most of our arms, experiential will make a resurgence as people spend more time out in their communities.
And I strongly believe that our homes will continue to be more important to us than ever. So I think 2021 will be the year of Direct Mail, and of course I am biased as J59 got its start as a DM agency, and one of our biggest clients is Canada Post. With digital burnout, work from home and the fact that during the pandemic many people upgraded their inside and outside spaces at home, or completely upended their homes and moved to areas outside the city, there has never been a better time to connect with people at home.
Overall, I would say the key to success in 2021 and beyond is to do what most good marketers have been doing for as long as there’s been marketing: understand your audience, their behaviours and preferences, and then deliver against that while adapting to the changes that inevitably happen.