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27 Reflections on Better Marketing in 2020

2020 Marketing Resolutions

As yet another year comes to a close, it’s natural to take a moment to look back at the past twelve months, and ahead to what comes in 2020. For most people this reflection leads them to deep truths about themselves—”It’s time for a diet,” or “Man, I really should be exercising more,” or “It’d really be cool to learn German, wouldn’t it?” But as you might guess, eating more salads und ein bisschen Deutsch sprechen won’t get you more leads, and it won’t improve your content (unless your plan involves targeted advertising in Munich, but that’s a different blog).

As you’re thinking about your marketing priorities for the new year and looking for inspiration, we could just tell you what our own priorities are—but where’s the fun in that? No, we wanted to get some differing perspectives, so we asked our friends. We talked to a number of smart marketers around Indianapolis and beyond, and asked them a simple question: What are your marketing New Year’s resolutions for 2020?

Here’s what they told us.

Content: targeting, management, and innovation

No savvy modern marketer should be surprised to see content marketing at the top of this list. And lo and behold, a lot of the savvy modern marketers we talked to had content on their lists! Funny how that works. For some, they’re thinking about their brands—and using content to position themselves as thought leaders in their industries.

“2020 is going to be a big year for Parker Technology, with the driving marketing resolution: establish our company as the expert in customer experience for the parking industry,” said Heidi Barker, Director of Marketing. “This initiative will rely heavily on thought leadership, which we’ll accomplish by further developing our digital, print, and video content, as well as through industry trade shows, a website refresh, targeted email campaigns, online advertising, and our social media channels.”

Holly Enneking, Director of Marketing at Lev, is on the same page.

 

We also plan to ramp up our content efforts to further demonstrate our thought leadership in the industry, highlight the incredible success of our customers, and humblebrag about why #LevLife is the best life.

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Holly Enneking
Director of Marketing, Lev

 

Building relationships inside and out

Content isn’t just a way for marketers to fill the funnel, either.

 

We'll sharpen our focus on the TechPoint Index in 2020 to include more dynamic content that will build our community up by connecting people, celebrating successes, amplifying stories, and nurturing a culture of inclusiveness and support in the tech ecosystem.

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Ashlee Wilson Fujawa
Director of Marketing, TechPoint

 

Content’s just as valuable to marketers like Indy Eleven Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Josh Mason in cultivating the followers they already have as it is in attracting new eyes to their content.

 

By building relevant [video-based] content, we continue to tell the story of our club and who we are, and continue to bring new fans into our social platforms.

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Josh Mason
Vice President of Strategy and Marketing, Indy Eleven

 

Science and story

The technical side of the content process is also an area of attention for some like Hannah Quinn, Marketing Manager for Client Success at OurHealth. “For 2020 something we’re focusing on is setting up a content management system to deliver personalization at scale without creating a custom piece for each client deliverable. As our book of business grows, so do our client requests, and as a lean team we’re always looking for scalable processes while still delivering a quality campaign."

That goes too for Vin Gaeta, Vice President of Marketing for IMPACT.

 

The most important thing we'll be working on in 2020 is getting even more detailed on the ROI of our content. Looking into the sources that generate the best leads (and ultimately customers), what types of content yield the most revenue, and how we can get our content to work harder for us.

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Vin Gaeta
VP of Marketing, IMPACT

 

It’s impossible to build a technically sound content process without knowing what’s working and what isn’t, and knowing fast. “As a marketing team, our top priority for 2020 at Malomo is focusing on pace—improving our ability to run marketing experiments quickly to learn and iterate,” said Co-founder and CEO Yaw Aning. “Tactics and channels are changing at an accelerated rate and it’s hard to predict what will work, so our focus for next year is figuring out how to launch more experiments at a faster rate so we can quickly identify what's working and cut what isn't.”

Getting the message out there

But as always, the main concern of content marketers is simply producing the content and getting it out the door. “For 2020, we’re excited to tell people our new story, and focus in on the quality of content as opposed to quantity,” said Ashly Stage, Content Marketing Manager at Jobvite. “Which is a real temptation for us, since we have so many cool new products and solutions. But we’re committed to getting really helpful, compelling information out there to the people who need us the most.”

 

Ship it! That is the theme of 2020 for me and my team. Marketers love a big release and it can be tempting to hold onto deliverables that could have an immediate, albeit smaller, impact in order to build up lots of things and have a big bang program release or to polish it until it’s just right. Don’t do it, deliver fast and consistently. Add value now. You can always come back and iterate later.

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Muhammad Yasin
Executive Vice President of Marketing, PERQ

 

Digital, data, and e-commerce: the future is now

If you were expecting content to make the list, you know that today’s marketers are thinking hard about how to improve their digital marketing, their data management, and everything else that falls under the umbrella of the technical side of the marketing process.

What is our data doing?

One concern is how we’re using the data we’re gathering throughout the marketing process. “As a company, we are now receiving more meaningful data and insights about our fans,” said Indy Eleven’s Mason, “which provides us a responsibility to use this information responsibly to increase fan experience, build customer service, and find more fans to come to games with messaging relevant to who they are by meeting them where they are.” But it’s also an issue of process, says Beckman Coulter Global Manager of eCommerce Charlie May.

“Our number one priority in the new year is unlocking the potential of our audiences that are trapped in many platforms and analytics tools. Specifically, we need to connect the enrichment and use of the data gleaned from our most valuable asset, our customer. There is an imperative for this to lead to a tangible foundation for a customer experience that we are proud of and that makes us more competitive."

Simplify, simplify

One way to improve that? Streamlining efforts across channels and making digital marketing easier. “From digital channels like email, our website, advertising, and social, to events and direct mail, we’re targeting an integrated, cross-channel approach to our marketing program,” Lev’s Enneking said.

“Orr Fellowship has naturally high turnover (as a two-year program), so our biggest marketing priority for 2020 would be standardizing any processes that are standard operating procedures and finding ways to incorporate marketing automation through our application process,” said Lexi Ochoa, Orr Fellowship Director of Marketing. “Currently, we have a very relational, hands-on recruitment process with very personal touch bases to candidates, but we know there are opportunities to use marketing automation to help us reach our goals.”

And the more channels a marketer relies on, the more critical it is to make processes run as smoothly as possible.

 

We're finding that headed into 2020, smart marketers are even more focused on streamlining their data collection, identity resolution, and activation capabilities—not just on their website, but tying together app, profile, and even offline (in-store, on-property) data, too.

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Molly Hortsmann
Marketing Communications Director, SmarterHQ

 

Giving people (exactly) what they want

72% of consumers now say they only interact with messages tailored to their interests, so brands are prioritizing a better and more accurate way to automate personalization at scale,” added Horstmann, “which can be really hard to do across internal teams, data streams, and interaction channels.”

Our customers are smarter and better informed than ever before, and if they’re going to give us their data, they want something positive—like personalization—to come out of it. Whether it’s a program or a person making the decisions, data can help you ensure that your audience is getting what they want from their online experience, on an individual rather than a group or persona level. “In 2020, my team and I will use data to grow our personalization, refine our message and its delivery, and inform our decision making,” said Veronica Krieg, Content Writer for Sharpen. “We’ll spend time understanding buyer and customer intent, so we can add value at every stage of the customer journey.”

Part of what people are looking for, whether customers or not, is community, and our technology can be used in part to help build that community around ourselves. “Our primary focus at Linking Indy Women is always to better connect the women in our community,” said Ally Brettnacher, Partner. “From a marketing standpoint, our number one priority in 2020 is to utilize all of the channels at our disposal to bring women together both during and outside of our monthly events. For 2020, we are going to lean hard into our new app (shout out to Lumavate for building something awesome) and our current channels of Instagram and LinkedIn.”

We’ll talk a little more about building and maintaining these communities shortly.

Customer experience: online and in-person

“Our industry is only just realizing the importance of improving the customer experience,” said Parker Technology’s Barker, “and while we’ve been at the forefront of that message, this year our goal is to own it, so that when any parking operator asks ‘who does it best?’ in regards to the parking experience, they think Parker Technology.”

The customer experience is a more important part of the marketing process than ever before; in fact, poor CX is one of the main things that makes customers abandon a brand. So a great experience is critical—online and in person.

“We are more than just a soccer game, we are an experience,” said Indy Eleven’s Mason. “We need to build our experience with that in mind and know that the competition for time, attention, and dollars only increases daily...Our number one priority for 2020 is to use our new data to improve customer experience by providing fans a tailored experience in all aspects of our interactions, along with enabling our employees to have meaningful customer interactions.”

Customer experience doesn’t just help your brand attract new customers, either. It can build a community around your brand that helps it grow into something bigger than itself.

“Our biggest marketing priority right now is creating an awesome customer experience,” said Meg Yothment, Director of Client Success at Powderkeg. “Some of our best marketing happens through the Powderkeg community: word-of-mouth, social media, and personal emails can go a long way. We’re putting a lot of energy into building our brand and personalizing communications throughout every step of the customer journey, so that every touchpoint builds the relationship.”

One of the most important places where the experience becomes critical? The point of sale, of course.

 

For 2020, we are challenging ourselves to test the boundaries of mobile e-commerce and to try things that we never have before. As more consumers are buying on their mobile devices, we are needing to rethink what has worked for desktop and test our limitations. It is intriguing to see how our customers will react to changes that can help shape their overall mobile experience.

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Kari Daffron
Director of Brand Marketing, Readers.com

 

People and values: building the future

A lot of what we’ve talked about so far is the visible side of marketing—it’s the deliverables we’re creating, and how we’re creating them. But if you’re not working on your foundation too, none of the rest will be able to stand. That means taking steps to make sure your people are set up to succeed.

"In 2020, I plan to attach a sticky note to my laptop that reads, ‘Always remember: People come first,’” said Amy Bartner, Digital Content Producer at Conga. “The world of tech marketing has, rightfully, spent a lot of its focus on the automated processes to make our lives easier. But without us—the humans—to drive those massive digital changes, they wouldn’t exist, and we wouldn’t need them. So my big focus going into 2020 will be squarely placed on celebrating the people who thrive on and drive innovation and digital transformation, and on those who make it happen.”

That goes for more than just employees and co-workers, too. “In 2020, we’ll be focused on finding creative ways to continue building and growing relationships with our customers, our partners, and of course, our team members (and prospective team members), too,” said Lev’s Enneking.

And finally, the foundation of the foundation—the values of your organization. Now, you don’t necessarily need to tear down your company values and start from scratch in 2020 (although if you want to, you certainly could). For the marketers we talked to, it’s more about recommitting to what you believe in, and making sure to live it every day.

“My resolution for 2020: Master the habit of curiosity. Every marketer gains a significant advantage by understanding how their organization operates, how each team or specialist contributes to topline goals, and how the prospect or customer ultimately benefits from the solution,” said Josh Palmer, Content Marketing Manager at Zylo.

 

As a content marketer, my goal is to keep the audience informed and alert them to my company’s solutions—so continually growing my understanding of the wider picture is a critical component to success. Practically, this means mastering the habit of regularly reaching out to coworkers, industry contacts, prospects, and customers, and educating myself to their points of view.

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Josh Palmer
Content Marketing Manager, Zylo

 

Brand: communicating the right message

Every marketer knows how important brand is—and how difficult it can be to build a truly great one. For startups like MetaCX, nailing brand messaging early on is a priority for 2020.

“As a startup, we're just trying to figure out the best way to communicate what problem we're solving, and how. We have a great product, and it's all hands on deck figuring out the messaging for it.”

Focusing on the things that matter most

There’s a lot going on in marketing—machine learning, personalization, lead generation and customer acquisition, data integrity and martech, brand messaging, content marketing, digital advertising, event sponsorship strategies, and much, much, more.

For some, 2020 isn’t about doing more—it’s about refocusing their efforts. Spending time and energy on the marketing initiatives that drive the most impact and being okay with leaving other channels on autopilot (or not investing resources into them at all).

When asked about marketing-specific New Year’s resolutions, DemandWell CEO Mitch Causey said:

 

Choosing needles over needless. I think this is a lifelong journey, but the more we can focus on the tasks that move whatever needle we need to move the most and remove as much of the shiny, fun, box-checking, rationalized, needless tasks, the more we will indeed move the needle. In 2020, I want to spend all of my work time on needle tasks so that I can actually work less and spend more time exploring life with my family and friends.

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Mitch Causey
CEO, DemandWell

 

Resolve to improve in 2020—and don’t forget the lessons of 2019

If you’ve spent any or all of the past year (and the years before, honestly) working in marketing, there’s one thing you know for certain. It doesn’t stop. There isn’t a finish line, where you reach a perfect state of Having Marketed, and you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Think about the brands you know the best—brands like Nike and Apple, the brands that show up every time someone wants to offer an example of awesome marketing. If anyone was out ahead of the curve, if anyone could simply rely on past work to get the job done, it’d be brands like these.

And you probably guessed this, but they don’t stop.

So take what you learned over the past year, and what the smart marketers in your community learned, and resolve to do just a little better next year. It doesn’t have to be complicated. SupplyKick VP of Marketing Peter Lazarz noted that in 2020, his team will simply, “Show not tell. Walk not talk. Get more sleep.”

Resolve to grow, resolve to build, resolve to innovate and create. Because more of the same just isn’t going to cut it, no matter how successful it was in 2019.

 

Thomas Wachtel Team Photo at Element Three

Thomas fills a few roles at E3—writer, editor, and resident European soccer expert—but his chief responsibility is content creation. When he's not crafting thoughtful content for the Element Three blog, he's captaining our kickball team, watching the Mets, or talking up Indianapolis to anyone who will listen.