By Lis Anderson, Director, AMBITIOUS PR
It’s fair to say that this year, our lives and livelihoods have been challenged to such an extent
that it’s difficult to know what’s in store for 2021. We work with b2b and b2c brands across a
wide spectrum of industries and each one has been impacted to varying extents by
Coronavirus. The marketing industry itself has faced its share of challenges as it adapted to new
demands from clients, changes in the media landscape and changes in audience behaviour.
Business models have shifted and we’ve had to be dynamic and agile to face the challenges
Yet the role of PR and marketing has bridged a gap for so many businesses, playing a vital role
in their resilience – and we don’t see the reliance on marketing diminishing any time soon. Here,
Lis Anderson, director, AMBITIOUS PR shares her top five b2b marketing and
communications trends for 2021.
- The need to build a personal brand
Customers are becoming savvy to the ethics and ethos of the businesses that they are buying
from. Increasing the visibility of CEOs, members of the board and senior leadership teams
builds brand identity, showcases values and demonstrates that they own their areas of
expertise. When carried out correctly, a personal branding campaign can authentically engage
an audience, driving leads through earned and owned media. But it also has another distinct
advantage; brands are now realising the power of reputation, having realised that crisis could
strike at any time. The work that goes into building an honest and trustworthy reputation can
make the difference between success and failure when crisis looms.
- Reliance on human interest stories
A rapid move towards remote working and an increasing reliance on technology has led people
to crave human interest stories more so than ever before. Once reserved for b2c campaigns,
making communication campaigns more ‘human’ is now becoming even more important for b2b
brands. Whatever industry you operate in, take time to analyse your target audience and the
topical events that are affecting their day to day lives. Then bring the audience into your brand
story to bring it to life. Think research, case studies and plenty of imagery. Informed customer
data and customer stories, when presented well, bring the kind of credibility to your brand that
can truly influence buyers.
- The channels to communicate across will continue increasing
LinkedIn, Facebook, twitter, instagram, YouTube, TikTok, blogs and newsletters the
channels on which to engage an audience will only continue to grow in 2021. This presents
both an opportunity and a challenge for brands. Each platform requires its own brand style
which means businesses need to mix up content with video, articles, posts so that each channel
looks fresh and drynamic. Also, sharing content is only half the plan; the other half is community
management. When it comes to choosing the channels that are most relevant to your business,
think less is more. If you nourish your network you will get out what you put in.
- Stakeholder engagement shifts up a notch
In times of change, not only is it important to continually engage with your audience, it’s also
crucial to maintain communications with stakeholders. Corporate communications have been
challenged by the distributed workforce, so a strategic approach will be required by many
organisations in 2021. Map each stakeholder audience that has a specific interest in your
business, identify which aspects of your communications are working well and which require
work. Then tailor influencer programmes around each business objective to remedy any
- The upheaval of 2020 will force a new way of thinking
Businesses have needed to pivot according to the specific challenges in their industry.
Communications plans have had to be revised and continuously reviewed. But it’s not all bad
news. It has given many organisations a new perspective, challenging previous perceptions and
the tendancy not to challenge the status quo. With this, we’ve seen brands finding new ways to
engage audiences and a greater requirement to measure marketing practices to see which are
providing most value. 2021 will see more brands willing to ‘test the waters’ of new marketing
approaches, bringing about healthy change for the industry and new ways to find success.