2021 is almost history. As we make plans for the new year, what marketing advice for 2022 should we focus on?
The unpredictability of our world makes it a challenge when it comes to formulating a strategy to reach our target audiences. What factors are most vital to our success?
To help provide some guidance, I asked 22 influencers to share their thoughts on this question: What one piece of marketing advice would you offer to brands as we head into the new year?
Here’s what they had to say.
Marketing Advice for 2022
1) Create an influence map for your target customers. It’s wild to me that so few marketers do this! If you’re not familiar, the concept’s simple: you make a list of all the ways your potential customers learn about the problem you solve, research solutions, and decide on whether/what to buy. In your industry that could be Google Maps or Reddit threads or a well-regarded conference or a million other things. But until you have this mapped out, you’ll surely underinvest in potential opportunities.
– Rand Fishkin, founder, SparkToro
2) Marketers don’t make meaning, people do. There is no marketing communication more influential than the media of people. Therefore, it is critical that marketers focus on the cultural frames by which people make meaning and how meaning is negotiated and constructed among people like themselves. Marketers don’t make meaning, people do. Understanding this sets the stage for all the messaging we put in the world in order to establish meaning congruence. But it all starts with people.
– Marcus Collins, Cultural Strategist and Keynote Speaker, www.marctothec.com
3) Google your brand. Welcome to your other homepage. This is what your potential visitors see before they click. And it’s a key piece of your brand.
- See negative reviews? If so, reach out to a few fans. Ask for good reviews on high-ranking platforms.
- See any bad press? If so, reach out to a PR pro. They can help you respond to negative press.
– Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Orbiteers
4) Authenticity. Brands try hard to be who they think their customers want them to be on social media – instead of who they actually are. Start with re-evaluating your Mission, Vision, and Values. If that doesn’t align with how you’ve been operating, go back and see where you’ve gone astray. When you decide to put your brand on social media, your audience makes judgments about you in less than 30 seconds. Be true to who you want to be and let that guide your messaging and marketing.
– Katie Robbert, Co-Founder and CEO, Trust Insights
5) Collaborate as if your budget depends on it. It does. Budgets of integrated programs are showing growth for the coming year and with that growth comes increased demand for results. Brands that collaborate across paid, earned, shared and owned will move from correlation to causation in a more meaningful way, allowing them to leverage talents and data through the funnel.
– Johna Burke, Global Managing Director AMEC (International Association of Measurement and Evaluation of Communication)
6) Ask yourself: How is your brand deserving of authority in every part of the marketing funnel? To create a brand people really trust, you need to be building multiple levels of authority. For example, at the top of the funnel, are you creating newsworthy content and getting media coverage? For the middle, are there relevant how-tos you’re creating that provide value and match up to your product/service offering? At the bottom of the funnel, do you have case studies, testimonials, demos, trials, and social proof to prove you know what you’re talking about? All of this matters, so audit your 2022 content plan to assess if you’ll be earning authority as comprehensively as possible.
– Amanda Milligan, Head of Marketing at Stacker
7) Tune into your audience. The purchase decision-making process starts with your audience and whatever issues are on their minds. These days, how and where you can influence the actions of your audience is all over the map. The important lesson is that if you aren’t in tune with what your audience is seeing, feeling, believing, or perceiving, good luck getting them to try to take action.
– Katie Paine, CEO, Paine Publishing
8) Prove your social conscience. The combination of life during the pandemic, political turmoil and climate change – no pestilence … so far – will put more pressure on companies in 2022 to prove their social conscience. Marketeers would be well served to showcase companies doing their part to make for a better society. I expect this to accelerate the use of integrated campaigns; can’t solely depend on earned media to carry this torch.
– Lou Hoffman, CEO, The Hoffman Agency, https://www.ishmaelscorner.com
9) Focus on the long-run with humans over short-run transactions. Looking to improve traffic to your content? Think about the people behind the screen and take a look at optimizing what you already have vs. shipping more stuff. Want to grow a following on social media? Give more than you get. Don’t worry so much about “going viral” with a single post, think about how you build a consistent audience of engaged followers. Looking to build a high-conversion pipeline to sales? Focus on building relationships, engaging in conversations, and matching problems with solutions for the people you serve.
– Ashley Faus, Content Strategy Lead, Atlassian
10) Actively listen to your stakeholders. As we head into 2022, we are, unfortunately, nowhere near our “new normal”… we don’t even know what our “next normal” is going to be. The brands that will make it relatively unscathed through the pandemic are those that are actively listening to their stakeholders and adjusting their marketing accordingly. Today, that means paying even closer attention to your analytics, to see what is, or isn’t, working, and tweaking your strategy accordingly. When you do this, you are truly being of service, which will grow customer trust, loyalty, and market share.
– Shonali Burke, Chief Marketing Officer, Arena Stage, arenastage.org
11) Prioritize and focus. According to The JOTW Strategic Communications Survey for 2021, the top communications challenges today are:
1) “too many priorities” (40%)
2) “cutting through the noise” (37%); and
3) working with “leaders that don’t understand comms” (36%)
These three problems are interrelated: it’s virtually impossible to cut through the clutter if you are trying to do too many things while also justifying every message, tactic and move. Therefore, the key for 2022 is prioritization and focus.
You’re more likely to cut through the clutter if you do two or three things exceptionally well, rather than striving to do many things half-baked. The results of focused effort are also more likely to produce results that you can use to help educate leaders.
– Frank Strong, Founder and President, Sword and the Script Media, LLC
12) Diversity and inclusion should move beyond hiring to marketing strategy. As brands continue to prioritize diversity and inclusion, let’s take it beyond hiring and into our marketing strategy and campaigns.
Companies should become intentional about how they market to candidates (hiring), coworkers (employee engagement), consumers, and the community which all impact the brand’s bottom line. Leverage your digital platforms to show how diversity and inclusion are implemented in the organization.
– Michelle Ngome, Inclusive Marketing Consultant, Line 25 Consulting
13) Consider how you can build experimentation into your strategy. B2B is often branded as boring because companies are afraid to take risks – they stick with what they know, even in the face of diminishing returns. But the only way to unlock what I call ‘gear change growth’ is by taking calculated bets on fresh channels, campaigns or creative. Good rule of thumb? Set aside a minimum of 10% of your budget to try new things.
– Jason Bradwell, Host of B2B Better, https://newsletter.jasonrbradwell.com/b2b-bite
14) Create accessible social media and digital content. The crisis has forced many companies to do more business online. As a result, they’re discovering the importance of digital accessibility. And marketing plays an important role in this as it creates a lot of customer-facing content. Marketing is the one posting videos, images, and content that aren’t accessible and lockout customers. Get ahead of it now and start creating accessible social media and digital content.
– Meryl K. Evans, accessibility marketer, meryl.net
15) Marketing goes beyond the product story. In 2022 it will be important for marketers to look beyond the product story. With the demise of third-party cookies in digital advertising, they’re obviously rethinking digital marketing and measurement practices. What’s still important? Brand purpose. The war for talent rages on, and employees are showing their clout by moving on to better opportunities. What’s more, most consumers think it’s important for businesses to be good employers, according to new research. That means that issues like pay equity, fair labor practices, good corporate citizenship, and a commitment to diversity and equity are at the forefront. Interestingly, the trend is even more pronounced among business buyers. So, marketing isn’t just about products and services anymore; it’s about the entire organization. At least, it should be.
– Dorothy Crenshaw, founder, Crenshaw Communications
16) Understand the latest technology. Don’t come up with an NFT plan; figure out how bolstering your offerings with virtual goods and tokens can meet your customers’ needs. Don’t come up with a DAO or Web3 or blockchain or crypto plan; resolve to understand the latest community-driven technologies better, and then figure out the right way to use them (or not). The rate of change may feel more daunting than ever, but you have the power to learn and adapt and grow based on the needs of your organization and the brands in your care.
– David Berkowitz, Founder, Serial Marketers
17) Nurture audience relationships. Nurturing your audience relationships through empowerment and access creates brand love you can’t buy. Companies that can share their vision and how their audience can have a deeper role will build fan armies that take the power of word of mouth to the next level. We see this with NFTs, sports, and more. Vision + access = fandom buy-in.
– Christina Garnett, HubSpot – Senior Marketing Manager, Offline Community and Advocacy, HubFans, the HubSpot Advocacy Program
18) Focus on social-first customer care. In 2022, we’ll see bigger increases in the use of social media for making connections with brands – including the compliments and complaints consumers have about them. The impact your (quick!) response has on these mentions includes everything from customer acquisition to retention and loyalty. I can easily argue that social-first customer care is one of the most important marketing initiatives for 2022 and beyond!
– Brooke Sellas, CEO of B Squared Media
19) Give creativity room to breathe. If 2020-21 proved anything, it’s that stress isn’t conducive to creativity. Work still gets done, but is it the best work? Maybe 2022 is time to retire the idea that a fast turnaround is a good turnaround. Sometimes fast is necessary. But sometimes it’s just pressure that crushes creativity and guarantees mediocre results. So, stop treating every project as a sprint, plan further in advance, and pad out those Gantt charts and schedules to give creativity a little more room to breathe.
– Jonathan Crossfield, Content Writer & Storyteller, https://jonathancrossfield.com
20) Double down on understanding your audience in 2022. You know how sometimes a good friend or a significant other knows you better than yourself? Your brand needs to be that friend or significant other to your audience. Yes, strive to understand your audience better than they do. Emails or Slack don’t cut it. Spend quality time talking to your audience: phone, Zoom and yes, even in person. The impact of your marketing will thank you for it.
– Dennis Shiao, Founder of B2B marketing agency Attention Retention
21) Be consistent in your messaging. Make sure you’re conveying one central and consistent message on all of your marketing platforms (blog, video, social media post, press release, speech, event, newsletter), not creating brand new ideas to suit each platform. Marketing campaigns should start with the defining brand message (“What is my value proposition”), not with the platform (“Let’s make a viral video!”) because anyone can make a website, a video, or a hashtag; only you can champion your brand.
– Joel Schwartzberg, presentation coach, writer, and author of “The Language of Leadership” and “Get to the Point!”
22) Address internal discord by focusing on alignment. And my advice? Work on addressing any internal discord within your organization. When there’s a lack of alignment internally, your work with any external consultant or agency can suffer. While you’re at it, get rid of the siloes that separate critical parts of your marketing like PR, content and social media.
And, of course, follow all of these smart marketing folks for great advice throughout the year.
What Advice Will You Focus on As You Make Marketing Plans for 2022?
As we’ve learned, the best marketing plans are the ones that you revisit and evaluate throughout the year.
Yes, you should plan – but be sure to check in often to gauge how any changes in the marketing landscape may affect what you plan to focus on moving forward.
About the author: You’ll find Michelle Garrett at the intersection of PR, content marketing and social media. As a public relations and communications consultant, content creator, blogger, speaker and freelance writer, Michelle’s articles and advice have been featured in Entrepreneur, Muck Rack, Ragan’s PR Daily, Meltwater, ThomasNet, Attorney at Work, FairyGodBoss, Freelancers Union and more. She is the co-host of #PRLunchHour on Twitter Spaces and is the founder and host of #FreelanceChat. In addition, Michelle was named among the top 10 most influential PR professionals by Commetric in 2021 and a Top Digital PR Leader in 2020.