Against all hopes, it appears we are heading into a 2022 where uncertainty will continue to rule and plans will continue to be disrupted. Still, that’s no excuse to skip the planning! If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past couple of years, it’s that a bias for action beats a ‘wait and see’ approach – trying something, and being ready to adjust and shift course almost always leads to better outcomes than doing nothing until conditions are perfect.
In the spirit of looking forward and being prepared for the best version of 2022, I’m sharing two trends and one truth for CMOs to carry into the year.
Trend: The Metaverse and Web3
The promise of virtual reality had taken on a ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ flavour, but that promise finally looks set to be realized. The metaverse is going mainstream – companies like Meta (formerly known as Facebook) are sharing their visions, investment in VR hardware is exploding (an Apple headset is expected this Spring), and the distributed workforce is driving a demand for more experiential remote interactions. Our identities are increasingly tied to our online selves and the lines between physical and virtual are getting blurrier as augmented reality becomes commonplace. Employee and customer experiences are being impacted, along with Go To Market plans which are expanding to consider NFTs and cryptocurrency. Brands who tap into these trends early will win, and many ‘mainstream’ brands, even in traditional industries like financial services, have already joined the party. If you haven’t been learning about and even experimenting with web3, make 2022 the year you start!
As the world spends more time online, we’re also losing what little patience we may have had left for overly complex or difficult experiences. Marketers can rise to this challenge by considering strategies to simplify digital experiences – easy, intuitive sites that let the consumer ‘get the job done’ quickly, that provide navigation to move effortlessly through learning and exploring experiences, and that leverage personalization in a relevant and helpful way (think ‘order again’ and click to buy). And for some brands, a throwback to simpler, non-digital times, may be their biggest impact move. Providing customers with a tangible, offline experience through a channel like direct mail, can humanize experiences and combat device fatigue.
Truth: Stay Close to the Customer
No matter what stage your business is at or what challenge the market is facing, there will never be a better way to win then understanding and addressing the needs of your customer. 2022 is not a year to rest on your archives of customer insight. How people live, work, and play has changed – new habits have been formed, new tools are being used, new priorities have developed. Whether you are leveraging communities, in-product feedback loops, or more traditional customer surveys, now is the time to reconnect with your customers. I recommend stepping back to review your listening ecosystem, reset on what you’re listening for, and refresh your approaches. Get proactive in reaching out early this year so you can quickly bring new learnings into your overall plan for 2022.
Wherever you choose to focus in 2022, stay open to change, because it will come, and know that you’re not in it alone – we’re all facing the year’s challenges together, and together we’ll make it great!