2020 Marketing Trends to Watch … Again

We are always looking over the horizon to see ‘what is next’ in the marketing world. As I was reading through the predictions for 2020, I thought I had accidentally hit the rewind button. In an unscientific manner, I have aggregated the topics that I considered to be the most talked about in the news and communications I read.

Don’t misunderstand me. I think there are some valuable lessons in these trends. I just have a few thoughts about them.

1- Customer Experience

Companies are focused on the Customer Experience or CX. Something can’t be a trend until it has a good acronym. I have seen so many articles that tout 2020 as the “Year of the Customer.” I’m glad to see this trend, but there is a sad truth than many companies don’t really focus on the customer.

CX isn’t like the customer service of old. Don’t just spend you time convincing them they need something from you. Or in other words, don’t just assume the customer is a gullible buffoon who will buy something shiny you dangle in front of them. Give them an excellent product or experience. Make them feel special and they will buy.

Well . . . maybe we should create products and services people like AND provide an experience that make the consumer feel confident that it was a good decision today and next week when they get the credit card bill.

2 – Employee Engagement

This trend has been on the rise over the decade. It had grabbed a lot of attention in the last few years, and become the hot topic for employers. However, employees have been talking about this for decades.

What changed? With the job market for highly-skilled, technically-oriented workers getting more competitive, employers are asking if employees are satisfied with their jobs.

Sadly, top ranked companies over the last decade have tried to equate salaries with satisfaction. This trend is interesting because the days of decades-long tenures at a company are a thing of the past. The workforce that started in that environment has been hanging up their aprons (so to speak) in massive numbers. That means that default loyalty isn’t a quality that most employees have.

3 – Personalization

I think this is the prediction that never dies. It is like prediction that says email marketing is dead. Companies have been chasing the Personalization end zone since the DotCom era in the late 1990s. Yes, customers want an experience that is tailored to them. Maybe with the rise of CX, this goal will get more manageable. The main issue, customer expectations and desires are constantly changing.

The hidden irony in the challenge of personalization, is that people are not that special. We are all unique, but not necessarily as different from each other as we would like to think. We have computers listening to us and can figure out what we ‘want.’ I find it interesting that there is a correlation between the rise of quantifying people and behavior with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the trend of wanting “bespoke“ everything. There has been a rising trend of the user of that word (see chart below) over the last decade.

As we automate and quantify our world with AI, are we longing for the good old days when things weren’t everywhere. Scarcity and specialness have been blasted out of the water in the modern internet age.

4 – Marketing Strategy

I recently read a prediction from Marketing Insider Group that read “The business of marketing is becoming increasingly complex. For companies to succeed in 2020, they’ll have to think beyond what they’re doing and link everything back to the why of the business as a whole. Your marketing goals and objectives must align with the overall goals of your business.”

This advice is good advice. However, it seems a bit painful that a modern marketing trend would be to ask why you are spending money on marketing channels. Are we just going to be to asking Who, What, When, Where, How and Why? There are so many levers you can pull in a marketing strategy, but without defining the simple questions, its more like you are the Wizard in Oz just creating smoke and mirrors hoping for the right reaction.

My Prediction

The marketing landscape will get more and more complex. We will be forced to start embracing automation without a great understanding of the technology that drives it. We will just look at the numbers of the campaign and the bottom line to try to determine ‘success’ for our businesses.

Time will be the biggest enemy. We will need to do more with less and faster.

Looking at that statement, I don’t think that is a new prediction either.