20 Marketing Tips for 2020: Sage Advice from Marketers Who’ve Been in Your Shoes

20 Marketing Tips for 2020: Sage Advice from Marketers Who’ve Been in Your Shoes

As the year wraps up, it’s time to evaluate marketing and communication strategies and tactics. In a noisy landscape with a lot of options, it can be overwhelming to decide where to focus, especially when technology and tools get all the buzz, rather than strategy and messaging. We’ve all heard it before: out with the old and in with the new. But what if the old really connects with your audience, and the new is off-brand and unproven?  
With so much to consider, it’s crucial to keep in mind that your marketing communications mix represents a conversation—and that’s a deeply human undertaking. 

As our president, Patti Purcell, likes to remind us, “People buy from people.” That means people should be at the heart of all your marketing efforts. People are the foundation of your company; people breathe life into your brand. A people-focused approach serves to clarify objectives and make meaningful decisions about messaging, content and delivery vehicles in the year ahead. 

Embrace the conversation.

1. Conversations are not one-sided. 

Find out who is on the other end: research, inquire, ask your sales team or send out surveys. If you’re guessing about your audience, there’s a chance you’re missing someone, or guessing wrong. There’s almost always more to learn, so ask yourself where you might look.

2. Pay attention: What is your audience telling you?  

You can find candid feedback in your web and email marketing analytics, your customer support communications, your social media feeds and your Google alerts. Your customers’ own words are indispensable—and last year, 62% of customers contacted customer service. They’re talking to you. Have you been listening?

3. You probably have two ears and one mouth.

Are you really listening? Customers’ words have been changing. Voice search is on the rise, and voice assistants are growing smarter. Searchers are now asking questions and speaking in sentences, bringing some humanity back into the keyword landscape. How does your messaging answer their questions? 

4. Quit hiding. 

You’re a marketer so you know better, right? Well, if you’re using the latest app just because it’s the latest, or you’ve decided you need a podcast because “everyone” is podcasting, you could end up hiding in plain sight. Customer-focused messaging needs to arrive in the formats and via the channels where your customers want to find you. Start with a strategy

5. Share freely. 

If you’re using social media, then use social media. Let it slide, and your absence speaks volumes. If you commit to the account, commit to supporting it responsively. Commit to what you can consistently deliver. You’ll reap the referrals. 

Remember, it’s all about relationships.

6. Partner with an agency you trust. 

Does your marketing communications agency really hear you? Does it show in the way they respond to your needs, or better yet, anticipate your needs? You’re a client, too, and you deserve the attention.

7. Retention matters. 

More companies focus on new customer acquisition than current customer retention, even though it can cost five times as much to acquire a new customer over retaining one you have. Retention efforts show your customers how much they matter. Your loyalty nurtures their loyalty.

8. Respect your customers. 

Respect is the foundation for healthy relationships. Consider the ways you can show your customers respect, and then do those things. Respect their time, their intelligence and their needs. 

9. Be the person your brand represents. 

Take a look around. Are your team members embodying and living up to your brand promise? How can you get into alignment?

10. Do something nice, just because. 

Customers expect to be treated like the real, live people they are. It doesn’t take an extraordinary effort to exceed that expectation. When you do, good ripples out into the world. You exercise power just by choosing to do something unexpected and positive—and science suggests you may be the biggest winner. 

Use your words wisely.

11. Remember who you’re talking to. 

If I wanted to be technically, grammatically correct, I’d have written, “Remember to whom you’re speaking.” But how would that make you feel about me? The perspectives and experiences that matter most are your customers’. Your content should address their desires, needs, interests and perspectives. Show them how well you know them.

12. Get to the point. 

Customers, clients, target audiences…everyone has a lot on their plates. Whether they’re actually shrinking or merely evolving in a new environment, attention spans are not what they were even a decade ago. Be brief, get to the point and then do it again. 

13. Your response, even to bad news, can make good news. 

While it’s a stretch to say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, a crisis doesn’t have to be a disaster. Own up to mistakes and make it right, and your response to the crisis just might become the story people remember, over and above the original problem. 

14. Include people. 

Your customer and client contacts may be more diverse than you think. How does your content reflect an understanding of them? Inclusive, people-first language shows you care. As humans, we all want to feel understood and cared for.

15. Balance calls to action with touchpoints for their own sake. 

A check-in with an end user might start out as “just because,” but you truly never know what may come of it. New insights improve products and services, and that spontaneous, unexpected extra attention might just be the thing that person most needs on that day. 

Keep the big picture in mind.

16. Give them what they came for—and a little extra. Every move adds up. 

Look around at your competition. Do them one better. Every day presents opportunities to differentiate. All your communications support each other, and together they uphold your brand. Or, do they? CrystalClearSM messaging ensures that all your messages and mediums pull in the same direction. 

17. Tell the truth, always. 

Remember the Head & Shoulders® shampoo ad, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression?” The line sold a lot of shampoo, but when things go wrong, do you write off the relationship or commit to making things right? Your choice says a lot about how you value the relationship. Be responsive and honest. Go for the second chance anyway.

18. Know yourself. 

Sometimes we get so close that we can’t see as clearly as someone with a little perspective. A trustworthy marketing mentor, like a good friend, will tell you the truth and help you make choices that best fit you and best achieve your goals. 

19. Be brave. Try new things. 

Good ideas are worth trying. That’s how history is made—not by using the excuse that you’ve never done it before. Maybe no one has. Be the first if you can. 

20. Acknowledge the humanity in you and in everyone. 

Every day, on and off the job, we have opportunities to show compassion and care. When we care, it shows. And when our communications demonstrate value and regard for the people behind the purchasing decisions, we add purpose and meaning to everything we do. 

Looking for more marketing tips? Let’s talk!  

With experience in publishing, advertising, marketing and higher education, Jo brings two decades’ worth of expertise in marketing communications and client service to Writing by Design. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and German and an M.F.A. in creative writing. She has lived and worked across four continents and most recently taught Professional Communications for Business Majors, Writing Content for the Web and English Composition at the postsecondary level—both in the classroom and online.