Here we are in 2024 and with the lessons learnt from 2023, we thought we would take a look at what’s to come in the world of Marketing. Last year saw some huge shifts in the marketing landscape, from AI-generated content, to Barbie turning everything pink, to big brand boycotts, to Twitter (now X) doing whatever they’re doing over there!
It’s difficult to say whether 2024 will see as many huge new stories in the marketing world… Just kidding, this year is going to be MASSIVE and we’ve put together our list of the biggest marketing trends you can look forward to (or try your best to ignore) in the coming year.
Generative AI Reigns Supreme
Is it cheating to start the list of with something that we said was a huge part of 2023? Maybe, but Generative AI isn’t going anywhere. With more and more companies bringing out new ways to use the technology, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be finding yourself watching a fully AI generated advert on TV… right?
Well, not exactly. 2023 saw AI launch into the stratosphere in terms of what it can do and on the surface the technology remains impressive. However, once you start diving deeper into how Large Language Models (LLMs) - like ChatGPT - work, you realise that though it makes writing a lot easier, it won’t do much to help your brand on the content side or even the SEO side.
But that doesn’t mean we won’t keep seeing it. AI and LLMs are the easiest way for people who don’t have the time, resources, or skills to make content around their brand. For many people, the ease in which generating product descriptions, web page copy, even social media posts – plus a lot more – far outweighs the cost of creating content that is… for lack of a better word… good.
Culture & Personal Values
We’re seeing it more and more, year-on-year. Customers want to find brands that align with their beliefs, whether political or personal. Last year saw several boycotts on all sides of the political spectrum, but that was mostly for B2C businesses and big global brands. If you’re a B2B business, how are values going to affect you?
Well, there are plenty of differences between marketing for B2C and B2B businesses, but at the end of the day, you’re still selling to a person. This doesn’t mean you need to dedicate a portion of your website to all the charity work your business does – though that wouldn’t go amiss. But with many businesses looking to move towards net zero, if you make it clear to prospects that you’re dedicated to that goal, if that’s something they’re committed to as well, they will see that you align with their values.
Here's the big thing though, this doesn’t end at social and political action. Company culture is becoming an ever-increasing term in the cultural zeitgeist, and it isn’t just about pizza parties and socials. Company culture is about how your business acts as a whole, what its values are, what your goals are for the business, even who you already work with can make an impact on how a new client sees you.
Amazon (despite its controversies) has increasingly put its workers at the front of its advertising and in giving people a “peak behind the curtain”, it humanises the brand. Culture isn’t really something you can fake or put a mask over – show your business, show your team, and let customers decide whether you’re a good fit for them.
The Rise of the Little Guys
Big companies aren’t cutting it anymore. In fact, with the cost-of-living crisis, many people are finding that the usually much cheaper big brands aren’t so far off the more independent, smaller brands. In fact, according to Kantar Brand Footprint 2023, 50% of shoppers prefer to buy from smaller brands that larger global brands.
But the same goes in the B2B space – global companies work very hard to make sure they’re the first name that comes to mind when you think of their industry. But smaller, local companies are quickly becoming the more desirable go-to in many industries.
This doesn’t just tie into who you are. It’s important to look at how you present your business. On social media especially, people are getting more turned off by corporate-looking content and big brands are taking notice. Most of the viral posts you see aren’t well-produced, high budget, tightly constructed videos; they’re usually just someone sitting in their car or office and talking to their phone.
2024 is going to see more brands clocking onto this, and moving away from highly-produced influencer content to move towards…
Community Building over Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing isn’t going away any time soon, but a new challenger approaches – Community Building. In the age of TikTok, influencers are a dime a dozen, and though they might have a high following, any work you do with an influencer relies so much more on the algorithm to get out to that following. It’s the trends, hashtags, and topics that people care much more about.
Just look at how McDonalds sat back as thousands of people joked that one of their new drinks, the Grimace Shake, wasn’t a purple treat, but rather a deadly concoction that killed or incapacitated all who dare drink it (and no, it wasn’t actually dangerous!). But most businesses aren’t McDonalds and can’t really cross their fingers and hope that a viral trend appears around their product. Both in the B2B and B2C space, building a community revolves around two things, engaging your target audience and creating great content.
The absolute best example of community building we can think of is Red Bull. From sponsoring events to creating viral stunts, Red Bull don’t really bother paying for a celebrity endorsement – they just create content for their audience around a feeling. Racing, sky diving, mountain biking, none of these things are directly related to the sparkling energy drink – but it still builds their brand up in the mind of the audience and at times, it even seems like Red Bull are more like the leaders of extreme sports events than they are makers of energy drinks.
That doesn’t just mean you should start posting TikToks as much as your 20-something Marketing Executive might want to. People either want to be educated or entertained (or a third thing we’ll get into later). If you know your niche in your industry, no matter how small it is, engaging in those spaces and making yourself a recognisable face is how you turn your prospects into a community.
This means not just talking about your product or your business; it means keeping up with the news, the conversation, and staying educated on issues facing your industry. Many businesses, especially in the B2B space, might think something along the lines of “I sell a product, but it’s not something people can get passionate about.” Then don’t start by talking about your product or the industry you’re in; start talking about who you’re selling to. Finding and engaging in those spaces, especially as a potential outsider, means you’re going to stand out and people are going to engage with you.
But there is another way of drawing people to your product…
Honest, human connections
This certainly ties into culture and personal values, but what customers and clients are looking for, more and more, is trust. Now, there are many ways you can build up the trust people have in your business, but if they’ve never heard of your brand, your product or your service, it starts with an introduction.
In 2023, brands became a lot more comfortable with showing how the sausage was made. Whether it’s brands going viral – with videos about how their marketing intern needs them to go viral or the “Day in the life of a *job title* at *Business or industry*” which have become so common in the online lexicon that they’re often parodied more than they are sincere.
The truth is, people like an opportunity to peak behind the curtain, even if it’s as simple as giving them insights into how your business operates. The more people who know about your business and how it works, the more they’ll feel a connection for it.
But giving your prospects and customers insights into your business isn’t the only way to build up connections with people…
Controversy isn’t going anywhere
We touched on it earlier in this blog, but people want to find a business that aligns with their personal values. But for every person you bring to your business, you risk pushing someone else away and it works both ways.
There’s no shame in being protective of your brand and your business. Upsetting potential customers isn’t something you want to do but the controversy we’re talking about isn’t about being offensive.
Remember when we said that people want to do two things: be entertained, educated or a secret third thing, people want to be challenged! This doesn’t mean sharing controversial content for controversy’s sake – what it really means is that if you’ve got an opinion on your industry or niche that you know isn’t shared by everyone, you should be talking about it.
You’re an expert, and there’s a reason you’ve come to the conclusions you have, as long as you can share those conclusions in a reasonable, respectable way. Sure, some people might disagree, but they’ll likely have more respect for your honesty.
There’s every possibility you’ll find more people in your industry that agree with you than don’t and people engage more with controversial topics than things that everyone agrees with – whether they agree with you or not.
And the more people engage, the more eyes will be brought to your business.
So that’s what we think of what’s going to shake up content marketing in 2024, but what are your thoughts? Are you planning on changing your content strategy this year? Need some help?
Book in a 60-minute strategy call with Emma, our MD, who can walk you through what’s best for marketing your business.