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Career

10 Things We Learned About Marketing in 2020

We talked to marketers from across the industry on our video podcast series, here's what we learned from them that you can apply to your own strategies!

February 17, 2021

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Through our video podcast series Marketing in Conversation, we’ve had the opportunity to speak with marketers across a wide range of industries throughout the last year. Each brought a unique perspective and expertise to our channel, and encouraged us to think differently about our own plans and strategies. Here we have compiled a list of 10 things we learned about marketing from all of our guests in 2020, which we hope inspire you as much as they did us!


1. Striking the right tone

Elliot Miller  — Bracken Marketing 

After such a difficult year, making sure that marketing messages are striking the right chord with audiences is an important skill to hone.

Something that jumps out to me for any industry out there is the tone of the marketing that we’re seeing. And it seems obvious, but don't be tone deaf, don't be opportunistic, and make sure that if you're putting a message out there that it’s valuable to the person that's reading it. What that looks like now is a lot more brand marketing than product marketing. You need to be less product focused and more brand focused at a time like this.”

2. Re-thinking the reach of events

Rembrandt Flores — Entertainment Fusion Group

When in-person event marketing is not an option, is there an effective way to transition that audience reach to an online platform?

“If we did the event, which we're obviously not going to do, there would have been about 150 people there. And those 150 people have how many followers if they were going to talk about attending the event and then put it on their social feeds. So we calculated that out and that became X amount of impressions. Using that number, how do we reach that same amount of people by doing a social media campaign?”

3. Small business, big impact

Alex Minor — Eye AM Media

A big budget does not always mean big impact, in fact thinking small can still make quite an impression in your market and with your audience. 

“I feel a kinship with the smaller business owners, the ones that don’t have endless gobs of money to throw at the marketplace, because I feel like I can really make a difference there. I can really make an impact. And that’s what I want to do at the end of the day, I want to help people grow their brands, change their lives, and help them help more people.”

4. The “80% video” for sales teams

Zach Basner — IMPACT

Video is always thought of as a marketing tool, but can also be a huge asset for your sales team. Saving time and streamlining your conversion cycle can start with just one simple video.

“If you were to go to a sales rep on a typical sales team and say, out of all of the questions that you get on the first sales appointment, what percentage of those questions do you think are the same every single time? They would say somewhere around 80%. So that's 80% of the questions that they hear on the first sales appointment are the ones they hear on every sales appointment. So the question is, why do we continue to use time on that meeting to address those questions? What if we could eliminate those questions before that meeting ever took place?”


5. Value of a podcast

Jared Sanders — Tobe Agency

A podcast is a unique marketing opportunity for any brand, and allows an audience to deeply engage with you like never before.

“If you listen to a podcast after a certain amount of time, you really feel like you know the people that you're listening to. There's this deeper level, and obviously with video you can put a face to the voice. With podcasting you can get so in-depth into what people's needs are. It's the perfect platform to really connect with your audience. And that's where branding is going, that's where a lot of this marketing is going.”


6. Find a way to give back

Diana Smith — Twilio.org

No matter your industry, there are ways to start shaping your mission towards equity, environmentalism, and social good.

“What I would really recommend is thinking about what are your company values and mission, what is your product and what do you really have to contribute that can extend into social impact. In Twilio’s case, that’s our product. If you’re a data company, maybe focusing on data privacy and data ethics. If you’re a retail company, environmentally friendly packaging and shipping is a really easy place to start. Think about what is connected to your organization and just start with some baby steps.”


7. Don't forget delight

Ian Evenstar — UNINCORPORATED 

When considering the best use of your marketing budget, don’t forget that it is not always about net-new. This higher education marketer encourages his clients to do just that.

What we've been advising lately is, instead of going for net-new audiences, taking a moment and putting more energy and more resources into engaging your current audience. They have huge infrastructure networks of alumni, current enrolled students, faculty, and all of the parents and families of that group. So why not focus the energy on delighting that audience?”


8. Making the complex simple

Michael Pirone — Vidico

For B2B and SaaS companies especially, it can be hard to communicate a complicated technology in a simple way. The trick is to break it down!

“To look at communicating complexity in a way that's easy to understand -- what that means is taking quite a hard communications concept and simplifying it to the point where your addressable audience widens, so you can really maximize the potential of who your company is able to speak and sell to. In practice that involves taking the company pitch deck or a 10 minute talk with the CEO and turning it into a 60-90 second video that really clearly articulates the problem, the company providing the solution, and the hierarchy of benefits which is how your solution provides value.”


9. Re-invent existing content

Darian Chornodolksy — WIREWAX

Even if you can’t create new content, don’t forget about the videos you already have. Interactivity is a great way to give new life to videos you may have forgotten about.

“One of the greatest things about interactive video is that you don't have to produce content specifically for interactive. Even before COVID-19 hit, creators were using WIREWAX to give existing assets new life, to make them actually engaging and interactive in some way. If anything, what this has caused is an uptick in awareness of how to maximize your existing content library.”


10. Testing, testing, testing

Kelly Cheng — Wistia  

To speak to your audiences, you first have to get to know them. Never underestimate the value of data gathering, and using that data to inform your next steps.

“Our testing approach is pretty much in our DNA. Pretty much everything that we do, we have at least two variations of -- so we at least have an A/B test, if not a multi-variant test going. It is the only way for us to know what's working and what's not, and to be able to continuously improve. In terms of testing and targeting for these new audiences, we’re watching them very closely to see how they’re engaging, what content they’re clicking on, what emails are attracting them, and what subject lines are working well.”

Want to learn more from our marketing professionals? Check out these episodes and more on our Marketing in Conversation video podcast, and subscribe to be the first to hear about new episodes being released!

Grace Amodeo is a Content Marketing Manager at Shift, where she oversees the annual Shift Creative Fund grant program. She is a graduate of Emerson College, where she studied film with a concentration in directing narrative fiction. Grace lives in Los Angeles.
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