The state of marketing in 2021

trends that will influence your marketing strategy

How has the past year affected marketing? How has it affected branding?

If you haven’t been living under a rock or haven’t recently awoken from cryosleep, you’ve probably noticed the monumental shift in consumer behavior along with business models adapting to “the new normal”.

In this episode of In the Know, Andrew converses with Jason Vana of SHFT Marketing (a small business marketing firm) on the good and bad trends over the past year and how to mould your marketing and messaging for today’s consumer.

Here’s how:

Be Excellent with What You Put Out

There’s no denying that users on social media are more distracted, unfocused, all the while being inundated with new sights and sounds on a regular basis. Since the beginning of the pandemic, social media consumption has increased across the board according to several studies (take this Digital Commerce 360 article for example).

In order to stand out in the busy social media landscape, you have to be excellent with what you are putting out. We agree, ‘excellent’ is a subjective term but it’s the fundamentals that must be in order to ensure best chances of success:

  • Defining your ideal clients (who is your content for?)
  • Unearthing market gaps (what topics are already covered?)
  • Determining best platforms and mediums to deliver content (where are your users?)

And lastly (as Jason points out in our discussion), you have to be willing to listen to your customers when it comes to content topics:

  • Listening for frequently asked questions
  • Asking them what they want to hear more of

Implementing these crucial steps are a great start to creating marketing and content that’s relevant and resonates with the users you actually care about reaching.

Anecdotally, searches for ‘best practices’ and  ‘how-to’ content are extremely popular right now and can serve as a great baseline for content ideas – pandemic or not.

Customer Experience Trumps Everything

From Chick Fil A adapting its drive-thrus to Gymshark focusing on at-home workout content – many businesses have adapted to the monumental shift. 

To those that have adapted – DON’T GIVE THIS UP. Once the pandemic relents and a sense of normalcy is restored (to some degree), businesses will face the decision of going back to the old ways of doing things or to keep the newly-implemented, market-driven adaptations. 

Consumers, remember, LIKE these new perks and have become accustomed to them. Taking them away may seem like brandishing a shiny new toy in front of your dog only to take it back and stow it away after 5 minutes of use. 

This is a big no-no.

To those that haven’t adapted – ADAPT OR DIE. Remember, “it’s not what YOU say it is – it’s what THEY say it is” (to quote Marty Neumeier). Will your brand be remembered as the brand that didn’t adapt when your customers demanded it (or could have benefited from it) or will you challenge your category with an ingenious offering or solution?

With so many gaps being revealed in the market over the past year, the time to act is now…


The market has shifted – from new problems that have arisen and need solving (at-home video communications) to titans of industries leaving a void in their wake (JC Penney, Century 21). Those that prepared succeeded and those that adapted thrived – you don’t need to be an economist to figure that out.

The time to evaluate new market opportunities and to go for broke – is now.

Consumers are hungry for a breath of fresh air in the form of more convenient experiences, ingenious solutions, and for some – even a throwback to normalcy.

So, where do you fall into the mix?

episode links

hosted by

Andrew Engel

special guest

Jason Vana

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