Back in January, Forbes predicted what 2019 had in store for the future of marketing. They told us to prepare for AI and smart speaker advertising opportunities, as well as massive growth in content marketing.
As we head into 2020, what does the marketing scene look like? And Forbes correctly guessed the themes and trends of 2019?
The answer is simple. Exhibitions are the best way to immerse a uniquely targeted audience into your brand’s story. And they are on the rise. As businesses move away from digital marketing, exhibitions and trade shows are seeing record increases in terms of exhibitors and footfall. The question is, have you booked your floor space yet?
2019 Marketing Trends
2019 had a massive impact on marketing trends and strategies. As far as Forbes’ predictions are concerned, there has been a slight shift in focus. Consumerist culture is on its way out, as 75% of millennials admit to valuing experience over things. Brands’ are having to work harder to keep their customers coming back and new technology is reshaping marketing strategies.
Forbes predicted that customers would be empowered and become brand ambassadors. This year we’ve seen this in the form of experiential marketing, with customers the focus of every event. 98% of people create digital and social content at branded events and experiences. More brands are offering consumer experience to increase social media mentions, therefore, creating micro-influencers and brand ambassadors.
GDPR building customer trust
Finally, consumers are starting to regain a bit of faith in digital – however, over half of them admit to using adblocking software. The hyper-targeted online ads are considered creepy, which is why the majority of brands are utilizing content marketing.
Emotion economy means purpose creates loyalty
You might be surprised to learn what role AI played in the 2019 marketing trends. Although it is not obvious, AI got us closer to understanding our audience than ever before. Previously we have used consumer data to try to work out their next move, with no idea about emotion or the effect that that has on decision making. AI is now advanced enough to read emotion, which has helped us learn a lot more about our customers. The emotional economy has enabled brands to build closer relationships with their customers, increasing satisfaction and customer loyalty.
Knowing how to update a website, run an email marketing campaign, and optimize your keywords isn’t enough anymore. The people excelling at their companies’ marketing are the ones who understand the tech through and through. Programming has become a second language to them. They live and breathe data.
The Campaign that did it all…
You can’t talk about marketing in 2019 without highlighting the brilliant, multi-platform campaign run by Cadbury and Age UK. The two brands joined forces to create the most talked-about campaign of the year, aiming to raise awareness of the loneliness crisis facing the elderly.
Utilizing traditional platforms such as out of home and TV, the two brands increased their buzz scores by 2.3 points within two weeks. This isn’t what made the campaign so memorable though.
According to Forbes, 2019 was going to be a year of micro-influencers. Cadbury’s and Age UK saw this opportunity and took it, enlisting influences with small and large audiences to take part in a sponsored silence. TV presenter Sue Perkins spent 30 hours locked in isolation as part of the campaign.
Forbes also predicted that brands were going to increase their efforts in terms of getting consumers more involved in their brand. Cadbury did just that. Age UK identified that 225,000 elderly people go an entire week without speaking to anyone. Cadbury ‘donated’ the words off of each bar of Dairy Milk to represent this message and get the audience involved. The message hit home, and the fact that purchasing a bar donated 30p to the cause was a way of getting people involved.
Cadbury understands the value of consumer experience and adding a face-to-face element to their marketing mix. In 1997, they took part in their first exhibition at NEC Birmingham. The brief was simple: create chocolate heaven.
It was the ultimate chocolate shop, and their attendees loved it. It’s no wonder they put such a large investment into Cadbury World, also based in Birmingham. Experiential marketing, like this, is on the rise and we are expecting to see a lot more of it in 2020. You don’t need to be a huge global brand to get involved.
What does 2020 have in store?
Video and Content
For a long time, we have been in agreement that content is king, but 2020 is pushing that message further. As people lose trust in online advertising, creating relevant and interesting content is the only way to guarantee yourself a spot in front of your target audience. More businesses are expected to invest in video as it is the easiest form of content to ingest.
There is also a drive to reach the coveted SERP zero position. Having the top spot on Google will no longer be enough in 2020. Brands are going to have to work harder to reach position zero – originally referred to as ‘quick answers’.
This marketing trend has steadily grown over the past few years, but now that virtual and augmented reality is a real possibility we expect it to skyrocket in 2020. Customers expect more. They want engagement and interactivity, they want to connect with brands.
Businesses are going to have to adapt their marketing mix to keep up with this one. As well as inviting customers to interact with them via digital channels, they are going to have to get out there and put the effort into making these real-life connections.
By creating online content and becoming more interactive businesses are predicted to boost customer-to-business trust and build relationships. AI technology, developed in 2019, has allowed marketers to understand and read emotion. This means that marketing is set to become even more personalised in 2020.
Exhibiting: the solution?
Exhibiting is an effective way of keeping up with the predicted marketing trends of 2020. The face-to-face marketing element, and uniquely targeted audience, allows you to interact with your customers on a personal level.
Experiential marketing grew in popularity in 2019, and in 2020 it will become an essential element of your marketing mix. If you attend an exhibition, you will find yourself completely immersed in different brand stories. The one-to-one communication and opportunity to show your product off is a unique benefit of exhibiting.
Furthermore, millennials are now sharing content from trade shows and industry events – meaning you get free online promotion from micro-influencers who have some sort of connection to your industry. Some key factors are contributing to highlighting exhibiting as a marketing trend for 2020.
Fully Branded Environment
Exhibitions give you the unique opportunity to immerse your audience in a fully branded environment. Unlike traditional or digital media channels, your audience has the chance to experience your brand with no distractions meaning you get all their focus.
This is something that exhibit designers have worked hard to achieve, constantly striving to create new design features that can make your stand bring in the crowds. From photo flooring, illuminated panels, different showcase elements, and built-in technology, the opportunities are endless when it comes to bringing your brand to life.
Exhibiting is cost-effective. The costs include the floor space, the stand itself, travel and accommodation, and any additional design features. The reason this is so cost-effective is that you can dramatically reduce your costs by attending multiple shows.
Although the cost of the floor space and travel will always be a factor, the cost of the stand itself (arguably the most expensive and important element), is reduced by the number of shows you do.
Uniquely Targeted Audience
People visit trade shows because they are interested in that industry. By exhibiting, you have a one-off opportunity to get your team and your brand in front of a uniquely targeted audience. With interactivity and personalization becoming key marketing trends in 2020, this sort of interaction cannot be passed upon.
Furthermore, the content that they share with their inner and outer circle is likely to reach even more of your target audience online. Access to these customers allows you to utilize interactivity, personalization, and video and content creation.
The 2020 Marketing Mix
The shift in focus means businesses are going to have to be much more customer-centric. Rather than relying on data and AI staff will have to get involved in the marketing mix, considering they are your best shot at communication and interactivity.
The ideal marketing mix simply has to involve a face-to-face marketing strategy. It is the only way you can access your target audience on a personal level, and make them feel a part of your story. Exhibiting at events and trade shows is the most cost-effective way to get your business, in a fully branded environment, in front of a uniquely targeted audience.
The trends also show that it will remain imperative to have a digital marketing element for your campaign. In 2019, online advertising became the least popular media platform and content marketing started to rise. In 2020 you should aim to increase the amount of content you are putting out there. Make it meaningful. Get your customers involved. Ensure that what you are publishing has some sort of relevance and is likely to be shared across the web. Even better, get your target audience to become your micro-influencers and share your brand at your live events.
Natalka is a full-time content writer for leading exhibition stand design agency, Quadrant2Design. Her passion for content, SEO optimization and writing developed following the growth of her personal blog, and it was when she was selected as a finalist for the UK Blog Awards 2018 that she knew she had to pursue a career in content.