By Patrick Howells MD at The fresh Group – Award winning global Insight led Events & Communications agency.
This year has been quite pivotal at The Fresh Group. We have won 4 industry awards so far, as well as secured several key long-term contracts, even in the face of Brexit concerns. But like any UK business leader at the moment, I am asking myself – what will 2020 bring to the industry? And what trends can we prepare for to remain ahead of the curve.
Looking at the state of the industry, it is no secret that the retail and automotive industries will continue to face great difficulty. Not to mention the closure of many high street bank branches and the recent collapse of Thomas Cook, it is fair to say 2019 has been tough and 2020 seems to be heading in the same direction.
This said, it’s not all doom and gloom. Below are the three areas the fresh team and I have predicted will grow within the Marketing, Communications and Events Service industry, followed by how we as a business have prepared to capitalise on them.
1) Experiential Marketing
It truly is a minefield for marketers at the moment when tracking the success of online for campaigns, as the measurability of these channels can be challenged when you consider the reality of fake followers, fake reporting, bots, bad sites, changes in algorithms etc… Getting cut-through and actually proving it is harder than ever. This is why the solution for 2020 lies in the physical world.
Experiential Marketing will still have a very strong place for brands and businesses in 2020, especially when we consider the amazing technological advancements such as voice activation, AR, VR and 4D sensory applications that enable brands to elevate those experiences, these coupled with the introduction of 5G speeds means that the sky will be the limit in terms of interactivity and connectivity at an event. The ability to connect with people, human to human, will still be the one sure way to make a meaningful connection with customers. The art will be how this is then followed up, reflected and measured in the online world.
2) Internal Comms takes the spotlight
Businesses are recognising that internal communications departments can make a huge difference to the bottom line, as well as making the difference when a company has to adapt to change, in an era where change is now the norm. Internal communication departments are investing in upskilling teams to be better content creators, in order to keep employees engaged.
The amount of communication and social tools companies can use to engage their employees has never been so diverse and clients are demanding that communication agencies understand that one size doesn’t fit all, internal communication has to be bespoke and considered for each audience. We anticipate clients will want internal communications agencies to be more creative and approach their employee communication campaigns in the same way branding and marketing agencies approach external campaigns. Which is why we have continued to invest in comms planning and geared up to apply content marketing tactics to future internal communication campaigns for our clients in 2020.
3) Clients want more for their money
Many economic pressures have impacted marketing and events budgets, meaning that there is no room for any project that lacks a real purpose for brands and businesses. Agencies that can offer clients more than a few core services will be able to adapt and provide better support for clients whose budgets are being challenged. Many agencies just like ours have pivoted their focus slightly in response to this trend in order to stay adaptable. For example, we have recruited particular skill sets and refined our creative processes, as well as our delivery models, to make sure we provide real value for our clients. We have also ramped up our service offering alongside the events and experiential services by creating fresh’s strategic comms and social content planning departments, closing the gap between the offline and the online experience as much as possible for our clients.
This insight led strategy has allowed clients to recognise the benefits of longer-term partnerships with us here at fresh, reflected in the multiple year contracts we’ve secured this year. As these three areas continue to trend, we also expect to see Marketing, Events and Internal Comms departments across businesses of all sizes becoming more streamlined which will also be reflected in the briefs they provide agencies. Any leading marketers, communicators and event planners that prepare for this wholistic requirement, especially in terms of skill and creativity levels in their individual teams, the better for 2020.