There is nothing more certain in marketing than change. In March of 2020, marketers began to navigate pandemic marketing and two years later, marketers are starting to navigate post pandemic marketing. We asked Lindsey Lowy, Senior Director, Consumer Marketing at The Globe for her thoughts on what marketers must keep in mind as they navigate the months ahead.
What has surprised you over the last year in marketing?
The continued need for productive dialogue between people with expertise. The Globe launched its first virtual event a few weeks after the pandemic sent us all into lockdown in March 2020. Two years later, despite Zoom fatigue, we’re still seeing a strong interest in virtual events, particularly for broad-based topics that dominate the news – thing like food security and agricultural sustainability, the future of work, the future of healthcare, cybersecurity, diversity and inclusivity for example. Brands want to be seen as thought-leaders and audiences want to deepen their understanding of these often complex issues. Virtual events do this really well with few barriers. While I’m really looking forward to connecting with people at live events in the near future, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the role of virtual events in the B2B and B2C marketing mix. They’re definitely here to stay.
What brands are getting marketing right and why?
Nike always gets it right, in my opinion. Their mission, to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world, is infused in everything they do as a company from product design and athlete sponsorships to inclusivity, environmental sustainability and of course, their marketing. And they’ve mastered storytelling. I’m in awe of how Nike consistently taps into cultural moments in a way that feels true and inspiring. When sports were locked down in 2020, they came out with You Can’t Stop Us; When George Floyd was murdered, they implored people to not ignore racism and twisted their 30-year old slogan to say Just don’t’ do it. And now, as we all emerge from our COVID cocoons, their Play New celebrates the joy of trying something new. It’s no wonder they’re one of the top apparel brands in the world.
What’s holding marketers back right now?
As marketers strive to be ‘always-on’ with our marketing communications, I think many of us are still beholden to a campaign-centric mindset and structure that may not be serving us well in today’s digital world. We build annual budgets and sequential, waterfall campaigns that often require months of preparation. But, as we saw with COVID, the consumer environment is far from static. Creative that made sense a month ago may not be relevant or even tasteful today.
I recently completed the Digital Marketing Strategies: Data, Automation, AI and Analytics course from Kellogg and I’m increasingly fascinated with the idea of applying agile development principles to marketing. Can marketers build a 6-month or 12-month roadmap that’s updated quarterly on a rolling basis and focused on a few key themes? Can we break those themes into 2 week or 4 week sprints shaped by user stories and epics to create iterative messaging that allows us the flexibility to respond to feedback and a dynamic consumer environment, while also providing consistency in terms of longer-term strategic goals and outcomes? Should marketing teams have product owners, scrum masters and developers?
What makes marketing with The Globe different from other providers?
Two things: Our audience and our understanding of content marketing. Our readers are whip smart with high expectations of us, which requires everyone at The Globe to continually do better and be true to our mission as a trusted, independent, Canadian news brand. It’s a daily challenge that’s infused in our corporate culture. As well, we’re experts in content marketing. Content marketing has been our business before content marketing was a thing, and with the added insight from Sophi.io, our proprietary data analytics, informed by millions of visits every month, we not only have a pretty good sense of how consumers engage with content, but more importantly how to identify patterns and draw insights from that engagement. The more we can work closely with clients on marketing challenges beyond a campaign or a media buy, the more strategic and nuanced we can get.
What are the biggest opportunities for marketers right now?
In the midst of war in Europe and rising inflation, on the heels of a pandemic, and on the cusp of climate disaster, companies and brands that embrace social good in big ways have a huge opportunity to win the hearts and minds of consumers. I think right now, marketers need to be thinking about how they can steer their companies to solve real problems. I love, for example, how Patagonia embraces anti-consumerism. Or that Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch released a truly handcrafted, limited edition first-pressing of their new album “All the Good Times” in the midst of the pandemic. I think consumers are ready to treasure and value things in a way that our grandparents once did.