We are one month into the final quarter of what seems to be the most challenging year the majority of us have ever experienced, and these past months sure taught us a lot. 2020 has changed life as we know it on almost every level, from the way we communicate to the way we shop, run errands, or work. And while we can’t do anything to take back the events of 2020, we surely have a lot to learn from this challenging adventure. And we’re not only talking about the pandemic. Civil unrest and social injustice are two other important events that have shared the spotlight with the Coronavirus crisis and contributed to shifting our behaviours.
Marketers know that experience is key, so it is only natural for them to want to deliver on those experiences. That’s why, when the pandemic shifted everything we knew overnight, marketers quickly figured out they need to jump in on the change train as well – both as consumers and as professionals.
While these challenges happened overwhelmingly fast, giving us little time to adjust, we can’t deny there are silver linings: we have learned how to become more agile, how to adapt to change, and how to channel our creativity even in difficult moments.
2020 – The Takeaways of a Challenging Year
The marketing industry is known for its openness and ability to think outside the box. After all, they are all creative people, right? However, even if marketers and brand managers are used to flexible working arrangements, being forced to move your entire activity to home in such a short time has been challenging, to say the least.
Work models have changed, consumer behaviours have shifted, and collaboration is now limited to online environments, proving how far-reaching the impact of these social and economic challenges has been.
Throughout history, however, adversity has been the mother of innovation. If our ancestors living in caves wouldn’t have been freezing and starving, it may have taken a lot more time until they discovered and made use of fire. Just like that, the current landscape has the potential to help the marketing industry reach new levels and grow in a positive way that will last beyond 2020.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway of the 2020 events is that companies have started making active changes to accommodate remote working during the pandemic and beyond. Not only are organizations going to reconsider their business model and be more open to remote working, but remote training will likely be getting some extra attention as well.
Remote Working and Productivity – Friends or Foes?
Productivity is one of the biggest challenges of working remotely. It would seem that working from home, away from distractions and long conversations by the coffee machine, makes everyone more productive, but things may not exactly be this way.
Despite 32% of marketers stating their productivity level improved while working from home, a significant 23% of them state their output has taken a significant plunge. This proves we all have our own level of comfort when it comes to work habits, and an abrupt change can negatively disrupt it.
While experienced team members have encountered very few problems with keeping their productivity levels up while working remote, it seems junior colleagues are struggling to find a balance that works for them. One good reason for this could be the fact that they still lack experience and may have a hard time making important decisions without guidance. Investing in remote training is one solution that could help tackle some of these challenges.
Maintaining Creative Collaborations from a Distance
When it comes to creativity and collaboration, the number of those saying they struggle to maintain their creative levels is equal to those who say they found it easier to do so remotely. Again, the experience is the one that dictates here.
Contrary to what some may think, young marketers are precisely the ones who have found remote creative collaboration much difficult to pull off than their older colleagues have. Both communication and collaboration are skills that can be developed and perfected over time, so we can assume that, with proper training and experience, many of these challenges will resolve.
As they gain more experience, young marketers will also start developing the confidence they need when it comes to decision making and accountability in a remote environment.
A Different Client-Agency Relationship
2020 not only changed the nature of the workplace but also client-agency relationships over many business sectors. As consumer behaviours have changed, so did the needs of brands who want to do their best to continue delivering.
Especially for the marketing industry, it is expected that project-based work will be in much higher demand than monthly retainers. This could lead to uncertainty regarding revenue predictions and make it much difficult for companies to plan their budgets accurately.
To survive these challenging times, many businesses have significantly reduced their marketing budgets and have kept their spending to a minimum. The majority of these cuts have been made from budgets covering offline marketing channels such as newspaper, TV, and magazine ads. And, given the fact that we spend plenty of our time in digital environments, we can’t say it comes as a surprise that brands want to focus on being where consumers are. As experts at Salt and Fuessel, a digital agency in Melbourne, point out, digital advertising and user experience are still of great importance to brands that care about their consumers, and this won’t change anytime soon.
Change Fuels Opportunities for Young Marketers
Despite a lot of evidence showing how bad an idea this is, marketing budgets still remain the first to be cut when businesses have to reconsider their priorities. This results in a wave of furloughs and layoffs that has shaken the marketing industry.
However, several opportunities can emerge from a situation like this, helping the industry move forward. Brands are compelled to let some of their employees go, but they need to do so while ensuring their business continues to keep up with demands. This opens a window for young marketers with a ground-breaking vision to stand out and maybe even gain terrain in front of their more experienced but less broad-minded colleagues. It’s a time where experience matters less, and the ability to think outside the box can improve chances for career advancement.