Hindsight is 2020: Lessons Marketers Have Learned This Year (That Will Likely Roll Into Next)


By Michelle Voznyuk, Marketing Specialist at Heinz Marketing

This year has been quite the whirlwind, to say the least. Can you believe it’s already mid-September? I was thinking the other day about how weird it would be to show up to the office again and how the calendar on my desk would still read “March”. It would almost feel as though we put a pause on life.

But in reality, time hasn’t stopped. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – the world as we knew it 6 months ago looks very different from the way it looks today. This isn’t just the case for our personal lives, although those do look quite different too. The pandemic has changed how we do business and influenced how we market our products and services to the world around us.

The saying “hindsight is 20/20” could not be more fitting. Reason #1: because the year is 2020, and reason #2: because of it’s definition. According to Merriam-Webster, it means “the full knowledge and complete understanding that one has about an event only after it happened”. This means we’ve probably learned a few things this year through the pandemic. And many of those will continue to shape how we do things going forward.

So with that, here’s what I see as being the top lessons marketers have learned or leaned into this year that will likely roll into next:

Be Adaptable.

This has got to be the number one thing we learned this year. A lot of the changes we faced might have been undesirable, but had to happen anyway. In our personal lives, that might’ve looked like balancing being an employee and a teacher; or finding a new way to workout when it’s raining and the gym is closed. Professionally, this might have wreaked havoc on all of the marketing strategies we put in place for the year. Or forced us to have to completely restructure the metrics we use to determine success. Let’s be real in saying learning to roll with the punches and be flexible is incredibly hard. But the bright side is with that growth comes greater skill and emotional intelligence that will help us connect with our customers into the future.

Innovate. Innovate. Innovate.

While the idea of operating in a constant state of refinement is not new, it has become increasingly important this year. Marketers who do not continue to innovate risk falling behind. This means the worst thing we can do is continue to do the same exact thing we did last year. Instead, we should always being trying new things and pushing the boundaries. Practically, this probably looks like a lot of A/B testing, or trying out a new process or platform. Whatever allows us to reach our audience better than we did before.

Embrace the Digital World.

A few years ago, most of us didn’t even know what Zoom was. Now it’s become an integral part of our day to day life, as well as our marketing strategies. For those who are in field or event marketing, a lot of their world has been turned upside down. Gone are the days (at least for now) of being able to host an in-person event with hundreds or thousands of people. That leaves us with one choice: embrace the digital world. While some companies (especially smaller ones) might be resistant, the positives really do outweigh the negatives. Embracing digital means being able to expand your audience, get more targeted, and reach people wherever they are.

Get Creative.

With the increase in digital presence this year, it has become even more difficult to stand out and break through the noise. This means we have to get a little creative. The reality of everyone’s situation is very unique right now. Each person is going through their own journey through the pandemic. So we need to think about how to reach each of these people differently. We need to ask questions like: “what do they want right now?” and “how can we help them and provide value?”. Chances are the answers to those questions look much different now than they did a year ago. Once we answer those questions, we can get a better idea of how to target them and grab their attention. Maybe that means a new, personalized email campaign or a fun social campaign with a hashtag to get people involved. We should keep asking questions, listen to customers, and brainstorm new ways to get creative.

I hope some of these lessons resonated with you and you can take them into consideration when planning your marketing strategies for next year. I expect us to grow into even better marketers in 2021.

As always, if you have questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you!