New decade. New goals. My marketing resolutions for 2020.

2020: Nothing creates a genuine opportunity to evaluate, challenge and optimize our goals — both personal and professional — like a fresh new decade.

In these times of change, we must get on and stay on our feet, ever ready to capitalize on opportunities. Last week, I shared my five resolutions I am making and embracing in 2020. If you missed it, here they are all together.

Resolution 1:  Invest in creative.

Most agencies and marketing companies talk about the importance of creativity, but few truly understand the investment required to build a company’s reputation for powerful, creative thinking.

Applied intelligently, creativity solves even the most complex business problems. The visual potency of great design commands attention in a saturated marketplace. We are all drawn to the novel, the bright, the fascinating. Moreover, in this, the most distracted era in human history, the ability to tell compelling stories in visual and captivating ways breaks through the noise. Today’s customer — B2B or B2C — wants easily digestible messages: illustration, animation and video provide a powerful, modern shorthand.

Consider this: 70% of B2B buyers watch videos to research potential purchases, and 45% of marketers plan to add YouTube to their marketing repertoire in the next year. My question: Why so few? This is the second-most visited site on the web after Google. By the way, Google ranks video content higher than text-based content now.

At Bader Rutter, we have doubled down on creative and will continue to make investments here. In 2019, we added world-class creative talent: roughly 30 new hires. The inspiring and diverse perspectives of these minds were forged on some of the biggest and best brands in the B2C marketplace and are now helping us consider the complexities of B2B in a new light. In the new decade, we look forward to continuing unlocking the power of design and creativity to solve business problems, earn attention and capture value for our clients’ businesses.

Resolution 2: Build many networks.

Am I meeting my customers where they are? Hopefully, because that’s no longer a goal; it’s a necessity. Today, an astounding 72% of buyers expect companies to personalize communications to suit their needs. Where are we at in meeting this expectation?

It’s all about sales fundamentals: fostering connections and building relationships. In today’s media landscape, there is no Walter Cronkite. We don’t all watch the same news at the same time or read the same paper each morning. Instead, EVERYONE customizes their information sources and shares what interests them, creating an infinitely splintered landscape of niche, recommendation-powered media outlets. In this landscape, we must partner as well as broadcast. Building a community that goes beyond communication assets (email, social media, website, etc.) builds champions for brands and widens their sphere of influence. We need 100 people to share our message — not just two or three. Do we know who will be our greatest champions?

Consciously building networks taps the power of targeting and personalization, supercharging your marketing. With the democratization of our communication channels, we can no longer afford to only create marketing designed for one large, broad audience. Instead, we must create authentic content for many small, targeted audiences. This allows us to differentiate ourselves and connect with our customers or future clients.

Simply put, paying attention here provides a powerful opportunity to better connect all of our marketing efforts to our business goals.

Resolution 3: Monitor culture closely.

My workdays may be packed with obligations, but I still must make time to breathe and look at what is going on outside my profession. As business leaders, we tend to get lost in our own bubbles. Mountains of emails and back-to-back-to-back meetings can create blinders to golden opportunities right in front of us.

What will be going on this new year? We all know 2020 is a presidential election year, one projected to have the biggest media buys of any presidential election in history. 2020 also will bring us two massive worldwide sporting events that only come every four years: the Summer Olympics and the World Cup. And, apparently, the 1980s will cabbage patch back to life with new releases of the Top Gun and Dune franchises. Beyond the mega-events, we must stay in tune with everything engaging our customers and clients. What is going on in the communities we are trying to reach and serve and how can we lean into that?

As people charged with communicating and connecting with vast and diverse audiences, it falls on us to stay in touch with our customers’ modern culture. Where will they be? What dialogues will interest them? If we don’t know what our customers care about or what influences them, we’ll fall behind the eight ball. One of the main reasons we at Bader Rutter win new business is because we’re known for our expertise — and not only in advertising in channels and content. Understanding the holistic customer, where they are and what matters most to them, isn’t the end; it’s the first step of building engagement that leads to loyalty.

Resolution 4: Embrace data’s power.

We’ve been rethinking everything for nearly a decade, but embracing change always presents a challenge. It’s uncomfortable. It can feel counterintuitive because it’s not proven. But we humans tend to confuse uncertainty with risk. Happily, we have one very powerful tool to encourage bravery and intelligent evolution: data.

Still, it demands a change in mindset to choose data over ego, so I’m consciously resolving to never settle for “this is how we’ve always done it.” I respect that everyone has their own strategies and tactics for embracing change, but unless we regularly challenge our beliefs going into this new decade, we’ll be held hostage to habits — habits that will become increasingly irrelevant and counterproductive.

The Japanese-Korean inventor Ken Hakuta, known as TV’s “Dr. Fad,” once said: “People will try to tell you that all the great opportunities have been snapped up. In reality, the world changes every second, blowing new opportunities in all directions, including yours.” Spot on, Dr. Fad, and this is well in keeping with the goal to promote inventiveness and creativity in children.

By checking our egos and histories at the door and looking to data to discern what is truly effective for our clients and brands, we will win you more business in the long run. At Bader Rutter, we dig into data every day to help our clients in the Food & Beverage industry with The Intel Distillery, a data platform that aggregates and provides daily insight on food and agriculture trends. If you are a food or agriculture marketer not tapping into the insights from The Intel Distillery, let’s chat and see how we can help.

Resolution 5: Recognize audio’s resurgence.

In an ever-more digital world, it may seem odd to believe the future is audio. But digital technology reinvents this inherently intimate medium. Today, audio both delivers powerful audience connections and simplifies digital engagement with the spread of podcasting and voice-based search.

Trends clearly show how audio will impact our customers and the way we reach them.

By 2021, podcast revenue is projected to hit $1 billion. In recent Nielsen reports, audio and streaming are up 76%, eclipsing video with 250 billion annual streams. And we must adapt to the changing way customers and clients find brands today. Per Comscore, 50% of all searches will be voice-based searches this year.

In 2020, we must integrate audio into our communication and marketing plans just as much as video. At Bader Rutter, we are prioritizing podcast media buys and helping brands create their own podcasts to help them reach their business goals. We expect this to greatly expand in the new year, particularly given the crowded media environment created by unprecedented investments for the upcoming election.

Like any growing communication channel, the foundation of our business constantly changes, so it’s critical to stay nimble and informed. For instance, while still fairly new to the podcasting world, Spotify will reach at least 25% podcast listener share by the end of 2020.

Moving forward.

The new decade before us will bring opportunities and challenges we have yet to imagine as marketers. However, one truth will remain and only increase: Empowered customers expect more than ever before. How and where we prioritize our investments in solving the business challenges in front of us must be dictated by meeting our customers where they are and helping them engage with our brands in ways that serve their interests best.

It should be an amazing decade. Let me know how I can help you.

About the Author

A member of the Bader Rutter Executive Leadership Team, David Jordan leads the BR Business Consultancy Group. His eclectic group includes MBAs, a former CMO from an entrepreneurial investment group, a veterinarian and the former commercial operations leader for a multi-billion-dollar business unit of a Fortune 500 company. The BR Business Consultancy Group consults with both inline and specialty clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to innovative startups in food & beverage, agribusiness and pet care.