What Happened in 2020 Won't Stay in 2020

December 2020

Let’s all say it together, 2020 was a year that was …. (drumroll) unprecedented. Talk about an overused word. But how else do you describe a year that brought life-changing events to every geography, every industry and every human being on the planet? And in the U.S., it wasn’t just the pandemic crisis; there was a brutally divisive national election and violent civil unrest for people who felt their rights had been disrespected.

No doubt, future historians will look back and point a very reprimanding finger at 2020 and say “Yep, it was you. You changed everything. And just look at the fallout.”

Because, yes, there’s definitely fallout. Some of it will even bear fruit as early as 2021. So let’s take a look at a few of the critical manifestations that 2020 will spawn.

Personal Rights

This is about every person’s right to protect their identity and their sensitive information in an accelerating digital environment where less-than-scrupulous people want to buy and sell personal data for their own profit.

“We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Privacy is going to continue to take center stage. Proving that you are a good steward of data will become competitively differentiating. People will gravitate to the tools and platforms that demonstrate their personal data is being respected. If you aren’t paying attention to this, you need to — now.” —- Justin Grossman, CEO/Managing Partner, meltmedia —-

Grossman recommends that every organization audit their privacy practices and take immediate action to shore them up. Established guidelines like GDPR and CCPA are good places to start. Then, make sure you’ve assigned responsibility for someone or some group in your company to monitor trends, potential issues and outright breaches. “There’s no room for lag time in your response to privacy threats,” he added.

Digital Marketing Venues

During the 2020 presidential campaign, social media played a bigger role than ever before. But the widespread access for so many people with radically opposing ideas and opinions raised a number of questions that we will be grappling with well beyond 2021: Do you censor content? How do you do it? What is true … and what isn’t? Who gets to decide?

“Finding answers to these questions will have long-lasting marketing implications as we try to determine what we post and how we are viewed as marketers and companies using these platforms,” Grossman said.

Therefore, before posting anything, do your homework. Know the policies of the platform and who adjudicates the truth of the information. Keep your posts neutral, with verifiable data for back-up. Try to avoid broad-sweeping ad placements; instead, capitalize on targeted groups in your core market. And monitor the channel so you can take quick action, if needed.

You also need to think in terms of “hybrid” marketing. Take the classic trade show model. Overnight, in-person events were replaced with fully virtual alternatives. Now that attendees have had a taste, the old in-person-only model likely won’t ever re-surface.

“With the introduction of vaccines, event planners and attendees will attempt to go back to ‘normal’ for awhile,” noted Grossman. “However, with continued concerns about economic recovery and travel safety, events will need to offer both in-person and virtual experiences. Event organizers won’t be able to be stingy, offering materials only to those who attend in person. And, as marketers, we are going to have to get creative in making our hybrid event tactics more impactful and cost-efficient.” —- Justin Grossman —-

One of those “creative tactics” might very well be the expansion of trailing activities after hybrid events. Consider ongoing email campaigns to attendees (virtual or in-person), follow-up workshops on related topics, key opinion leader forums, loyalty programs, surveys and small group formation (think “book clubs”).

Customer Expectations

Grossman explained, “Healthcare has been changed forever. Literally within days, research teams used AI and learning models to quickly determine paths of discovery for mapping COVID and a vaccine. Sure, we had to throw a lot of money at it. But we should celebrate this use of technology. This is what is going to shape more personalized medicine, more rapid iteration of how we get drugs to market. And the market expectation, now that the possibilities have been demonstrated, will be speed.”

The impact will range from using specific genetic data to design custom therapies to identifying target-rich populations (by geography or other markers) for clinical trial recruitment to developing personalized marketing campaigns. 

And if the COVID vaccine progression could race through the whole development, approval and manufacturing process in less than 9 months, why can’t other therapies or cures? 

“None of these trends are going to achieve full resolution in 2021, but we are certainly headed in this direction. So, we’d better buckle up for the ride that 2020 just launched us on. We’ll have this year in our rearview mirror for a long, long time,” Grossman concluded.

About the Author
sue zobrist
Sue Zobrist
Sue works as the Copy Director at meltmedia. You can learn more about her on Linkedin.
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