With spring upon us, I hope everyone is well and your businesses are off to a solid start in 2021!

As we discussed in our last newsletter, the world has changed rapidly due to Covid-19, and these changes have directly affected every business. But overall, things have started to improve nicely. Many people have gotten vaccinated, the number of Covid-19 cases had dropped dramatically in the United States and the UK (although the rest of Europe continues to struggle somewhat), and the stock market, which was down -32% from its February 2020 high, has roared back quite dramatically. But on the risk side, there are still various regional lockdowns hurting businesses,  new Covid variants (UK, South African, and Brazilian) which could create problems, and many continued geo-political risks across the world (China, Russia, Iran, etc.) which will certainly challenge the Biden administration.

In February, we outlined the first 6 of those 10 trends and predictions for 2021. These included rapid digital acceleration/Covid pivots, “virtual” and remote working cultures becoming the new Modis Operandi, the amazing continuing power of video, shopping witnessing a major migration to digital/social media, Amazon continuing to “change to game” in so many categories, and marketing automation becoming “hyper automation”. 

In this issue, we’re going to cover the second set of 4 trends (for our total of 10). After you read them, I’d love to get your feedback as to whether these do justice for what is really going on within the marketplace, so please feel free to connect via e-mail, LinkedIn or Twitter.

Yosi’s Crystal Ball – The Final 4 (of 10) Marketing & Digital Predictions for 2021! 

And here they are…

1. Voice Search, Chatbots, and Voice Recognition technology will become much more mainstream in 2021

In fact, well over 50% of all online searches will be conducted via voice search this year…that’s because voice search is much easier than typing so it tends to do very well, especially with longer FAQ type questions. 

For marketers, voice search and chatbots are both starting to become such an opportunity because people are now using messaging apps more than they use social networks, so they’re becoming the new platform for sales, services, customer care and content/information. As chatbots take on more human-like personalities, they can take up a portion of customer communications and literally change the conversation for brands, and lower selling and customer care costs as well. For example, Domino’s Pizza uses voice technology allowing people to order pizzas through Alexa, helping to increase their sales. And another nice benefit…chatbots never lose patience with your customers!

Juniper Research says that marketing spending within voice powered digital assistants will reach $19 billion by 2022, and will be driven mainly by transactional voice such as ordering products and services. Chatbot use will likely grow by 25% annually becoming a $1.3 billion market by 2025, and voiced based e-commerce will reach $40 billion by 2022!

So keep your pulse on this one… It’s potentially a big game changer for all marketers and salespeople.

2. LinkedIn is growing significantly as a potential sales lead generation and marketing tool, especially to mitigate issues related to COVID-19

Businesspeople will rely on Linked In much more often to make up for the lack of trade shows and significantly less in person meetings in the short term. The question is…how can one “network” for new business if you can’t go to trade shows or out for coffee or dinner with a prospective customer? Linked In has quickly become a potent sales lead generation, marketing, and networking tool.  

Almost all of us have a profile on Linked In and we use it to link up and socialize with business colleagues and associates. For example, (and especially if you’re in B2B), you can now very effectively micro target potential leads by geography, job title, seniority, closeness to your inner circle and much more. In addition, it’s becoming popular for people to post content and videos to their Linked In feed as a way to spice up their participation and social optimization. I’m working with numerous clients on this, and it is an amazingly new and effective lead generation medium. If you’re looking to drive powerful new sales lead generation avenues for your business, you should certainly look into these new Linked In services for your sales and marketing teams going forward.

3. There is much more outsourcing of C-Suite “Os”

Outsourcing of the CFO, CMO, and CIO positions on a part time basis has started to become much more common these days. This is especially true for small and medium sized businesses who want high level world class strategic thinking, but cannot afford it on a full time basis. If you’re still low on cash due to Covid or you’re trying to lower overhead budgets, you should ask yourself if you can hire an outside CFO, CIO or CMO to work on a “fractional” basis (e.g. 5 or 6 days per month) to oversee key strategic and financial thinking and planning at a fraction of the cost of a full time executive. And you can add more days of work (or subtract less days) whenever you need them.

By combining the high level thinking of a former big company “C” level executive and the executional capabilities of a more junior internal person, you could experience increased revenue/valuation growth, but at much lower and flexible employee labor costs…leading to lower fixed costs and increased profitability.

4. “Purpose” is more important than ever

Telegraphing an objective of purpose is very important, especially in in a time when people have been scared, and many were facing financial hardships (and still are…). Brands should think about what they can do from a charity and social responsibility perspective. For example, Starbucks has provided front line healthcare workers with free coffee. Adding a “purpose” component message to your advertising, PR and/or social media can leave a positive and even lasting impression on your customers and clients. And this is especially powerful when targeting millennials who typically hold brands to a much higher standard. 

So until next time, good luck and good selling in 2021… and please stay safe!