3 Essential Marketing Questions For 2022 and Beyond
This is part of an ongoing series focusing on the meaning, implementation, function and future of corporate social responsibility.
Marketing in 2021 was a challenge, but 2022 will bring new challenges, emblematic of where the world of business (and as a whole) will be going in the remaining years of the 2020s. However, with new challenges come better ways to connect with and build bonds with customers. At Impactree, we have highlighted three of the most important trends in marketing, why they are so pressing, along with the best practices to implement them into your brand’s marketing strategy.
To help frame this discussion, we’ll pose each of these trends as a question. Ask yourself, can your company give a thorough answer to these three questions?
Question 1: How Are You Harnessing the Power of Transparency and Authenticity?
In any conversation of CSR principles, authenticity will be mentioned as a must-have element; and for very good reason. Corporate trust has fallen sharply over the last half century, with cultural shifts around war, pollution, and inequity altering how people view the businesses in their lives. By no means is this to imply that trust does not still exist, or that this distrust applies uniformly across industries and companies. However, it is important to highlight this reality, with many companies beginning their marketing journeys at a slight disadvantage, needing to first and foremost build trust through authentic connection.
In an age with endless information and choices offered to everyday people, every person has the ability to be selective with their money and time; no matter where someone lives, the internet gives them the opportunity to in essence shop anywhere in the world. And because of this choice, customers want a company which is honest, upfront with its goals, and not hiding information just out of sight.
A 2019 study from Stackla highlights the importance which authenticity has over brand choice – especially among younger generations – “86 percent of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support.” It is clear that modern brands must market themselves in a way which is honest, advertising products/services while never misleading or taking advantage of consumer trust.
Authentic marketing entails advertising a product not in a way which manipulates consumers, but honestly shows reasons why the company is excited about their product. Minute Magazine frames authentic marketing as “figuring out why you personally believe in a product—and then relaying that message to potential customers.” In this frame of mind, authenticity and transparency are a means of cutting through highly refined marketed research to simply and effectively tell customers why your product/service is worthwhile and how it reflects company purpose.
Question 2: How Are You Being Sustainable?
The 2020s were marred by COVID-19 and the many global hardships it created. However, this decade has also been defined by a fast-elevating public concern over the changing of our climate. Of course climate concerns have been rising for decades, yet they met a new public awareness with record breaking heat waves, cold snaps, storm systems, droughts and floods. As Statista polls display, climate concerns among Americans is at a record high, and many are asking the brands they shop with, “how are you being sustainable?”
Put simply, to succeed in the coming decades, companies will need to prioritize sustainability when marketing themselves to new and old customers. An article from Forbes highlights the urgency of this reality, stating “Any business that ignores sustainability is unlikely to do well in this age of conscious consumption.” While old purchasing preferences – quality, price, brand image, etc. – will remain important to consumers, sustainability offers a deeper means of engaging and connecting. By positioning itself as a leader in sustainable and eco-friendly practices, a company can leverage their products/services as a means of positive climate action. Thus, when a customer shops with said company, they feel like their purchase contributes to climate action, helping build a collective impact with friends, family and community members.
Sustainability has its trade offs, which often are felt on the consumer’s end. However, companies must be aware of these shortcomings, and present them clearly and honestly. Customers want sustainability, which means most are fully aware of the sacrifice they may be making, and are willing to deal with it to do their part in addressing climate change. “As consumers navigate these difficult trade offs, consumer brands and retailers alike can help. Don’t underestimate the consumer’s intelligence regarding sustainability trade offs, and make your sustainability messages as clear and concise as possible.”
Reiterating the importance of question 1, authentically marketing the sustainability of products and company initiatives builds trust, while avoiding the negative backlash greenwashing can create. When implementing purpose marketing, there is no need to sugarcoat reality; there is a climate crisis, and consumers and companies will have to find new technology and make trade offs (at least for the moment) to address it. This kind of honesty displays a genuine commitment to a sustainable future, giving consumers confidence that your brand will be an eco-leader in 2022 and beyond.
Question 3: Where Are You on the A.I./Human Balance Beam?
On the final day of the 2010’s, Data Science and Machine Learning practitioner Maithreyan Surya wrote an article for Towards Data Science declaring the preceding ten years “The Decade of Artificial Intelligence.” According to Surya, “The past decade has witnessed the great rise of Artificial Intelligence. The technology has made an impact in almost every field out there. It has become a great superpower which has changed the way we interact, and in the future, it may change the way we live our lives.”
It is clear that A.I. is a crucial part of the modern business landscape, and has been successfully harnessed to assist in the marketing process. “For many of today’s marketers, AI is used to augment marketing teams or to perform more tactical tasks that require less human nuance.” Artificial intelligence has already shown itself to be an invaluable tool in acquiring and maintaining customer relations, however there is always a balance to be struck.
While elements of marketing and by extension customer experience can easily be automated, companies must remember that there should always be a human connection at the core of all marketing efforts. “While businesses want to have a chatbot responding to some of the FAQs from customers, some prospects would like to have real people respond to their inquiries. In 2021 most consumers are still reluctant to trust responses from chatbots. This means that human customer service is still a major requirement for any brand looking forward to growing.”
Although artificial intelligence affords us many advantages in connecting to customers, it is essential that technology doesn’t blind us to the fact that humans prefer communicating with fellow humans. This has been the case for as long as A.I. technology has existed, but is even more apparent in the world of Covid. The long periods of social distancing which the entire world experienced helped reshape how people view basic human interaction. Artificial intelligence – while essential in many aspects – can present a cold, impersonal experience, lacking in human-based connection which we all, to some extent, crave. This holds true even when we are buying goods and services.
Impactree As A Tool For Purposeful Marketing
If your company can successfully answer these questions, congratulations! You are looking toward the future and building your brand to appeal to and engage customers for years to come. However, answering the question internally is only half the battle; you have to be able to publicly answer these questions, asserting the importance of authenticity, sustainability and humanity outwardly to all prospective and returning customers. If you are not able to succinctly articulate your company’s passion and purpose, consumers may be drawn to competitors who can. At Impactree, our platform is built as an all-in-one purpose marketing tool, giving companies a simple, effective way to showcase their purpose initiatives while allowing customers to play an active role in enacting positive change.
Our simple, adaptable, customizable and embeddable Action Hubs let companies display their purpose, products, literature, partners and much more in one centralized location. This gives customers an approachable place to learn about a company, as well as interact on a deeper level. Already, many of our customers have hosted successful sweepstakes, coupon programs and charity incentives, showing the power Impactree offers to authentically market products and services, while showing a deeper, authentically human side.
Because Impactree is built as a purpose platform (catering to addressing numerous social, economic, and climate based issues), it is perfectly suited to adding more to a marketing program, giving customers the ability to create a direct impact on their world. By selecting from our hundreds of professionally curated actions, your brand can build hubs based around key issue areas, outwardly reflecting brand purpose. Customers can not only view what your company cares about, but they can also take simple, effective actions to do their own part. Not only does this signal where customers’ passions lie, it also strengthens bonds through the joint effort of building a collective impact, creating extensive customer activation.
The experience of assisting a brand in reaching a corporate social responsibility goal is very unique, and offers a form of marketing much deeper and more human than any other options, digital or not. With the power of Impactree, brands can reinvent how they market themselves, tying together authenticity, humanity, effective use of new technologies, along with appealing to the human desire to do good for others and the planet.