Apr 14, 2021

Future-Facing Marketing Trends, with Josh Dougherty

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Josh Dougherty is the CEO and a co-founder of A Brave New, a Seattle marketing agency focused on helping businesses accelerate their growth through inbound marketing, branding, and web design. He specializes in working with clients to identify barriers to their growth and overcoming those barriers with strategic content and marketing tactics. He has more than a decade of experience in digital marketing and branding.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Why an evolving expectation of trust in marketing has been a major force in 2021, and how the annual Edelman Trust Barometer can offer invaluable insights
  • Why an erosion of trust in core institutions such as government and the economy has been accelerated by the global pandemic and other recent major challenges
  • How people across the industrialized world have a high level of trust in their individual employers but low trust in wider institutions
  • Why transparency and impartiality are crucial, and why academic and technical experts within a company are its most trusted spokespeople even though even that trust is tenuous
  • Why people often have good intentions to improve our information literacy but often don't do the work necessary to avoid echo chambers
  • Why being trustworthy, living up to your promises, leading with facts, acting with empathy and being authentic is crucial for effective, impactful marketing
  • How Wunderman Thompson's Future 100 report offers powerful insights into what the future will look like and how we can begin adapting today
  • How augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality will bring a sea change to conferences and other events
  • How the Johnson & Johnson/Merck vaccine development partnership offers an example of how partnering with other companies in branding collaborations can be powerful
  • Why TikTok ads are creating new exciting opportunities for marketing that can't be overlooked, and how people are showing a desire for clarity on an organization's ethics
  • Why today's audience wants to learn from trusted brands and companies, and how teaching them for free can help you build trust

Additional resources:  

Show Transcription:

Intro: Welcome to A Brave New Podcast, the podcast all about how brave entrepreneurial companies are unlocking their business potential using inbound marketing. Here is your marketing expert and host, Polly Yakovich.

Polly Yakovich: Welcome back to the podcast. Today, Josh and I are back together. Welcome back, Josh.

Josh Dougherty: Together again.

Polly Yakovich: I know. Josh Dougherty, my co-founder, I'm Polly, as you all know. We are here to talk about a few topics that have come up for us recently at our agency and that we talked about together as a team last week, and we thought it would be a really great conversation to bring to you. So we had a conversation last week about some trends, marketing trends, things that we're seeing as the first quarter of 2021 is coming to a close. So we'd like to talk about some of them with you. The first is something that I'm going to let Josh tee up for you. And we want to talk about this extensively, which is a big topic, particularly coming into 2021, which is trust. So Josh, tell us a little bit about this particular resource.

Josh Dougherty: So I want to unpack a little bit the Edelman Trust Barometer. If you haven't heard of that, that's one of, I think the go-to places we go to understand how trust is changing, or not even how trust is, how I think people are consuming information and who they're listening to, and some of the challenges from a high level, we need to overcome as marketers to be effective. Because we talk a lot about in marketing, especially in marketing high value products that the sales process is all about trust. There's probably three or four products that are going to solve your need. But at the end of the day, you're going to go with the people that you think are listening to you that understands you, that understands your needs, and that are going to be on your side and thinking for you ahead before you are.

Josh Dougherty: I think a lot of about this quote from Stephen Covey. He says that trust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication. And it's the foundational principle that holds all relationships. And I think this is pretty important as we think about marketing, which is essentially about relationships to be thinking deeply about trust. So the Edelman Trust Barometer, if you don't know about it has been around since 2001. They release up report each year. It's a large survey with 30,000 respondents from around the globe. And it just gives you a really good high level overview of how people are thinking about the information that they're consuming.

Josh Dougherty: This they've aptly entitled the report, The Year of Information Bankruptcy. And so that's something I think that we can all relate to coming through in the United States like a highly contentious election, coming through like social media that's just lying to us all the time. All those things.

Polly Yakovich: No perspective on that, Josh.

Josh Dougherty: Never, I'm not going to go at all.

Polly Yakovich: Josh has a great blog post that we're going to link in the show notes, so you can get access to the survey. We're going to talk about some of the stats, but we wanted to walk through some of the high level takeaways from the survey and our thoughts about it. I think as usual, surveying results are always interesting to me because what people say and how they behave are very different things. So we wanted to unpack a little bit of that for you and also just chity-chat and add our two cents as we all want to do. So Josh, one of the main findings of the survey is that business has become the only trusted institution, but even so these numbers are pretty grim.

Josh Dougherty: This finding makes me laugh because I'm like, "Oh, business's trusted now." It's mostly like a race to the bottom, I think, as you look at these numbers, right?

Polly Yakovich: Yeah, 100%. Business is trusted because every other institution is so untrusted, which is actually quite sad.

Josh Dougherty: The other thing that made me laugh is they have this slide where they rate stuff on competence. One axis is competency to less competent and then the other axis is ethical to unethical and businesses is the only ethical organization that's also competent that got scary. I think it's cool for businesses to have that weight, but it's also terrified for our society a little bit.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. A trusted organization on this scale happens at 60, right?

Josh Dougherty: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Polly Yakovich: And business has scored 61, which isn't massively trusted, with NGOs falling to 57, government, 53, and media 51. So I think, if we're going to reflect on the last year, it hasn't been a great year for building trust in our core institutions. That's for sure. So I think businesses win by default, particularly when we're coming off of a year, where people, depending on who you worked for really depended on businesses for employment and for services. And a year with this pandemic where our lives really turned upside down, we didn't feel for the most part. We could rely on those other institutions to the same extent for core physical and human needs that we could from businesses.

Josh Dougherty: Totally. And I think that's natural in any crisis. You go to the person who's going to fulfill those lower level needs for you and you decide to them because you've got to trust someone. It's pretty lonely, if you're trusting no one. And I think that's reflected as you go deeper in the survey and you look at businesses are trusted at a 61 out of their zero to 100 scale that they have here. But as you get into my employer, stuff around your own employer, they actually have really high trust rating. Overall across the global 27, which is a bunch of countries from the United States to South Africa, to South Korea, to India, like most of the industrialized part of the world, you're a person's individual employer. They gave us 76 trust score, which is actually quite high.

Josh Dougherty: So this is where one of the most interesting initial findings is for me, as I think about applicability to marketing or even to just how you run your business, I think it's more applicable for business owners, entrepreneurs, CEOs, anyone, is that you have a tremendous weight of trust that you need to fulfill on for your people because one of the few pillars in life that people are relying on, which is a little bit scary to think about and it's a weighty thing, but it also shows like here's an opportunity for you to lean into that and really make a difference in some people's lives, which I think is valuable.

Polly Yakovich: When you get into leaders who are trusted, Josh, talk a little bit more about that because [crosstalk 00:07:15] this is where it comes across, even more strongly and sadly as well.

Josh Dougherty: Exactly. No leaders are trusted. So they say for government leaders, religious leaders, journalists, CEOs. CEOs are again the most trusted leaders, but they get a 48. So everyone's like dismal. Government leaders are like at a 41. So there's not a much, a lot of trust in institutions. I think this is the natural scattering of everything as you get into total information, Wild West out there, social media unwilling to regulate itself. Again, I have no opinions about this.

Polly Yakovich: I'm smirking. You can't see that come through on the podcast.

Josh Dougherty: People deciding not to rely, have a shared basis of facts. I think once those things disappear from your societal discourse and this isn't just a thing in the United States, I think we like to think we're exceptional. We're not exceptional in the world about this. There is social media, the information that was available to us has disrupted how all of us think and how we trust and things have become a lot more, I think, localized to like close-knit family units and close-knit friends, and those are the people you trust. Right?

Polly Yakovich: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Josh Dougherty: I don't know what the answer is here, but it creates a long road back to actually figure out how do we, as marketers build trust for these organizations that like it used to be. We could say, we have a CEO sign this, it'll build trust. From these results, it doesn't say that it's going to necessarily build trust. It's going to be a detractor.

Polly Yakovich: Again, after this kind of incredible year that we've been through, leadership trust is also highly localized. While Josh is right, the CEO scored 48, my employer CEO, people answering about their own CEO, if there's trust was that a 63. So extensively hire for people in your own sphere. People in your local community, you trusted them more than people broadly. Then surprisingly, I think based on the scores for journalists and media and disinformation, scientists scored the highest at 73, which I felt was personally encouraging.

Josh Dougherty: [inaudible 00:09:31].

Polly Yakovich: But really super interesting findings, as we move into the report, one of the things that's really interesting as marketers is when they ask questions about, government leaders are purposely trying to mislead, 57% of people agree with this. And business leaders purposely trying to mislead, 56% of people agree with that. And so to Josh's point as we're talking about marketing and building trust and selling people products, roughly half of the people that we're talking to think that leadership both at the government and private sector levels are trying to mislead people.

Josh Dougherty: I think this is a really huge call for transparency and for trying to be as marketers and as organizations that are marketing themselves for trying to be as impartial as possible. I think it requires brave marketing in this moment because most people aren't willing to go and give a fair shake of a review of their competition and what they do well and what their competition does well, and to say this type of person actually is probably better to go work with our competition than work with us. But at a level where you have the majority, I listened to five 38 a lot, so they would be like, "This is a clear majority." I don't understand how 56% is a clear majority, but it is a majority.

Josh Dougherty: They would say that this is a clear sign that there's significant barriers to overcome. So I think that radical transparency where even they willing to give credit where credit's due to the people you're competing against is going to be super important because otherwise, why would someone listen to you when they come with the basis that you're going to lie to them when the conversation has started?

Polly Yakovich: We're going to talk more about information as we get going. I wanted to briefly touch on another finding of the report that I think is really very insightful, and this is about spokespeople. Josh, can you walk us through the spokespeople finding?

Josh Dougherty: Totally. You'll see this in my blog posts because I think it's a little bit hard to explain this slide without any visual. But they have a finding in here where they ask people, the specific wording is the percent of respondents who read each as a very, or extremely credible as a source of information about a company. So this comes down to really, I think it's brass tacks for marketing, who is the best person to speak on behalf of the company?

Josh Dougherty: The two most important people are an academic expert and then accompany technical expert. So I think if you're leaning towards having your technicians, the people who are doing actual work, speak about your marketing, that's a really good move. Now these people aren't doing great because they both saw large drops in the trust that was around or the trust that people had in them. Both of them are at a 59 in the zero to 100 score and both of them, the academic expert had a negative eight drop compared to last year, company technical expert had an negative 10 drop. So I think they're the most important people, but I think keep in mind that trust is still fragile with those people.

Josh Dougherty: Another interesting thing to think about is there's a lot of trust relatively as you look at this in a person like yourself. So I think this speaks to how do you leverage peer-to-peer networks? How do you leverage referrals? How do you leverage those types of through lines in your marketing so that you can have your target? We sell a lot to CMOs. So how do I leverage the other CMOs that I know to speak on my behalf or even to share on my behalf about their experiences so that we can build trust that way as well? The only thing I would say is it probably doesn't pay at this point to have a journalist speak on your behalf because they are the least trusted on this list of credible spokespeople.

Polly Yakovich: And it's helpful for those of us who are occasionally either paying for spokespeople or are trying to recruit people to speak on our behalf to know that that trust is dropping. Both because I think sometimes, I don't mean this in the necessarily negative sense, but as a shortcut to credibility and trust, we often use other people to speak on our behalf. I think this may point to organizations are just as benefited by speaking for themselves or using their own experts. That may be something that may be important to think about shifting budget or even shifting tactics because buying some of that instant credibility isn't as easy.

Josh Dougherty: This is part of that shift. If all institutions aren't trusted, but businesses are most trusted, who's best equipped to speak about your business than yourself at least, at this moment in time?

Polly Yakovich: Another thing we wanted to talk about, and this is really relevant is information literacy. Josh, can you walk us through this part a little bit more?

Josh Dougherty: Yeah. Information literacy, I'm trying to remember what the definition here is. It's essentially whether or not you're able to sort through whether information is true or not. So this is a pretty big piece as we've all been shifting in the United States, at least to thinking about, can I trust this claim made by this politician? Can I trust that claim? How do I unpack what the media is saying to me? Then I think this is regardless of what side of the spectrum you land on, there's mistrust in both sides.

Josh Dougherty: So, one of the most important things for respondents this year was this idea of increasing their information immediate literacy. Now this is juxtaposed with a really funny thing to me because people say, "It's super important for me to increase my literacy." Ostensibly like only trust things that are trustworthy, but then the next finding is they asked people if they had good information hygiene. And they say information hygiene is for specific things.

Josh Dougherty: So are you engaged with the news? Are you avoiding information echo chambers where everyone disagrees with you? Do you verify your information and do you not amplify unvetted information? So essentially, do you not share things that don't match the three previous pieces? Only a quarter of people do that. So people say it's most important to be literate about information, but then they aren't putting in the effort to actually do what it takes to be literate.

Polly Yakovich: And to me, I think that this is actually one of the least surprising findings and this is where I get on my soapbox of talking about surveys. And I think this is really indicative of the current information age that we're in, which is that people know that their information is poor, or bad, or misleading, or in an echo chamber. They know they should want to do something about it, and in fact, like probably have great intentions. For me, particularly it's like, I probably have good intentions to do something about it, but my time is so limited that I stick to the information sources that I already believe that confirm my biases.

Polly Yakovich: And so, we are aspirationally wanting to have really good information hygiene and be really smart consumers and break through the clutter, but for all sorts of different reasons, we don't. In fact, probably we're getting huge endorphins from constantly confirming that we're right all the time and whatever side we're on, we just feed ourselves this information. I think [crosstalk 00:17:44]-

Josh Dougherty: That was exactly what I was going to say, is it's so much more fun-

Polly Yakovich: It is.

Josh Dougherty: ... to be in an echo chamber.

Polly Yakovich: It is.

Josh Dougherty: It's just like awesome.

Polly Yakovich: And forwarding memes that totally confirm my worldview to my friends and just spreading them around over and over again, there's something fulfilling about that, particularly after the last year. The other thing I want to say about this too, that I think is a really interesting conversation is that we are inundated with more content and information than ever. Every marketer knows this, whether it's marketing content or personal or political or entertainment or whatever it is.

Polly Yakovich: It's a very difficult because I think people know that social media networks and other places like the information is growing. They know that they're abusing them. They know that they are using their customers as the product and selling their information, et cetera, et cetera. But there's not really a great roadmap or out alternative, so we just accept that it is what it is. Even though we don't necessarily trust those organizations it's too hard or too much work to think about working around them or without them, or again, we get such an endorphin kick from seeing people agree with our worldview on social media that we don't think about leaving it or we don't think about checking.

Polly Yakovich: This points to, I think one of those great human conundrums, which is that we know that perhaps we're being abused or we know perhaps we're being fed this information, but it's too addictive to stop. And controlling or protecting our identities online or information comes at a high price. Even though we don't necessarily trust the information or feel like it's good or healthy, we're unwilling to pay that high price to stop.

Josh Dougherty: And I think really practically, I agree we're unwilling to pay the price. And personally, I like to think I'm better because I'm not on Facebook, but then I'm on Instagram. So Facebook's getting all my data anyways.

Polly Yakovich: 100%, yeah.

Josh Dougherty: There's like stuff like that. But then when you think about it from a corporate perspective, I don't think companies can afford to stop. It becomes very different. I think he could make a case that an individual could pull back and have a very happy fulfilling life, right?

Polly Yakovich: Yup.

Josh Dougherty: Not using social media, getting some super secure email so that they're not having Gmail read everything that they're sending back and forth. But a business can't afford to do that and not grow. So the question for me then comes like how do businesses... Because I think businesses practice bad information hygiene too. I'm just now translating this into businesses. And we like to sit in our echo chambers too.

Josh Dougherty: It's much easier to be like, "Our brand is great, our marketing is great, and these dumb people out there just don't want to buy from us." And that is like the de facto place where marketers live. Instead of saying, let's have a really hard conversation about what people are actually saying about our product and then re-engineer it, so people who might actually want to buy it.

Polly Yakovich: The other thing I find is very hard to translate and that is just that if you're on these platforms as a marketer, whether you're B2C or B2B, particularly B2B, you're interacting with people that are seeing all this like addictive content and funny memes and things that are entertaining to them. And then you're trying to be in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, what have you, with a serious B2B boring ad message and trying to get people to interact or click or do whatever it is you're asking them to do. It's a very difficult environment to be in.

Josh Dougherty: Yeah. And I think this is so [inaudible 00:21:44] base. I reflected a lot about this over the last year as I tried to be like clever businessmen on LinkedIn and fail at it most of the time because I'm not very clever, more serious. I think that you see this interesting thing in our society and in how we consume media in both on a business side, not a personal side that people both want to look through the ton of information at once, but they're also craving depth.

Josh Dougherty: So I think the antidote to trying to be like, keep up with the clever, which is hard for most organizations, they're not going to have the ability to do that is to say, where do we really want to go deep and become really valuable? I know we talk about this a lot and we try to live this out with our clients, but it's so hard to pull back and say, how do we not be in the rat race and really become the person who is thinking about this most deeply. So we're getting noticed. Then you still have to have a distribution promotion strategy that's going to work. Right?

Polly Yakovich: Yeah.

Josh Dougherty: But it gives you something to hang your hat on as opposed to just trying to be clever like everyone else out there.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. And that gets to a point that I think is one of my major takeaways from the trust report. And that is that everyone wants to score highly on trust and they don't worry so much about being trustworthy. For me, part of this dive and continued nose dive and everyone's trust scores, probably three years from now, 59 is going to be like an incredibly amazing high score. Who knows, hopefully not.

Polly Yakovich: But the real point is rather than worrying about who people trust and why they do or don't trust you, worry about being more trustworthy because every marketer is going to tell these back in day stories about how trusted everyone was about their magazine ad, or everyone trusted Sears, or everyone bought this product because it was the first ad and such and so magazine.

Polly Yakovich: And I'm not saying that this is true of Sears at all, but often some of these stories about how the snake oil salesman would literally advertise for these things and everyone bought them because they trusted it because it was in print or a TV commercial or whatever it was. But those things were a lie, they weren't trustworthy. So, people can trust in things that aren't trustworthy or are lies or wrong all the time. So for me, the point is less about who do people trust and more about actually being trustworthy.

Josh Dougherty: Yeah. And good marketing is about being actually authentic. It's pretty easy to live up to your promise if you're actually being true to yourself like you're saying. Right?

Polly Yakovich: Yeah.

Josh Dougherty: I'm just repeating over again what you said, but I just think about some of their takeaways here like they said, "How do we emerge from information bankruptcy?" And then they're like "Embrace the expanded mandate businesses have." And so we didn't talk about that much here, but it's like people expect businesses, even B2B businesses to be making a meaningful investment and making society be better. Leading with facts and acting with empathy.

Josh Dougherty: This is how we would expect anyone that we trust in our life to act, anyway. I care about you and I'm going to try to tell the truth. Then providing that, fulfilling and making sure your content reflects that. It's not like rocket science,-

Polly Yakovich: No.

Josh Dougherty: ... but it's a good reminder to go back to like, do you actually have something good that you're selling. Talk about those things that are good about it, talk about it how it actually helps you. It's like I feel like we constantly come back to just the principles of inbound. How do you truly help people with your marketing? You're probably going to be successful if you do that.

Polly Yakovich: That's awesome. I want to pivot quickly and just take a few minutes and talk about another resource that gives us some future trends to watch. Again, Josh talks about this in his blog post. We wanted to touch on these a little bit. So we're all in this state of being depressed because no one trusts us and no one's trustworthy. But we're marketers and we are trying to build effective brands and build trust with consumers and grow our businesses and our products. So if we take some of Josh's notes and do that in the right trustworthy, authentic ways, here are some other trends that we're watching as well.

Josh Dougherty: These are pulled out of the Future 100, which is a report that Earl & Thompson, one of the largest agencies, the most respected agencies in the U.S. puts together. I think this is nice. If you're a futurist, these are the things to be thinking about of how will this change your world? I have a marketing focus ones, but it's a pretty fascinating report to look at how is space changing. How we're going to collaborate change. Having that cross disciplinary view into trends can help you make connections you wouldn't normally expect.

Josh Dougherty: One of the trends that we're really thinking about here is with our tech clients that we're working with is this idea of sustainability. We all know that climate change is a real thing. And right now, I'm going to get my-

Polly Yakovich: Oh, boy. Here we go.

Josh Dougherty: ... perspective again. We all know that that's something we have to deal with. And I think about this a lot with our little kids. Both Polly and I have little boys that we're trying to figure out how do we raise them well in the world. And they're going to have to deal with climate change in ways that we will never have to deal with. So one of the things that's a looming over the head that people don't seem to be talking about a lot is the fact that 2% of global electricity is consumption, comes from data centers. And that could be 8% in 2030.

Josh Dougherty: So we think we're becoming more efficient, we're becoming more technology-driven. That's have got to be great. There's this hidden underbelly and so I think with all our tech clients, it's thinking about how do we answer that fact about how is the tech industry sustainable? I think this can be extended to products like what Apple does or what anyone who's making a smartphone should just to pick on Apple. There are these really rare earth metals that are needed to make these products and we're chunking through them pretty fast.

Josh Dougherty: So the conversation I think is not just about how do we market this, but what can this industry do and think differently about how they're using the resources that are required to make all of the technology that we love work and be able to do it in a sustainable way. Because I think answering that question goes a longer ways towards figuring out what does the economy look like in 2050 or 2100? Hopefully, I am long gone in 2100. I don't think I'll still be around, but [crosstalk 00:28:48]-

Polly Yakovich: No, you never no. CRISPR through for you.

Josh Dougherty: It's true. It's true. But I think that goes a long way to answering that because as technology becomes more and more part of our economy, we're going to have to confront this in ways that we maybe are confronting coal right now, or some other things that seem more current problems

Polly Yakovich: Let's set up the next one that we think is relevant for us, which is mixed realities.

Josh Dougherty: So a lot of people talk about augmented reality, they talked about virtual reality. I think those have been things that people have figured out. Mixed reality is this idea of how do you bridge the virtual and physical worlds together? How do you make it like giving someone an enhanced experience, so when they're walking through a museum and you create some additional technology layer to that experience, as you're in it. I think I have trouble with in my small feeble mind thinking about the difference between augmented reality and mixed reality. They both seem similar to me. But-

Polly Yakovich: I think this is going to be especially important for events and conferences, which we all think contrary to maybe some people's belief is going to come roaring back after a year of not being able to see and talk and touch one another.

Josh Dougherty: And I think it will go in reverse. So the technology isn't quite there, we're digital marketers. But I think there's going to become an expectation where the digital marketing extends into physical spaces too. So it's like, we think a lot about how do we augment physical experiences. We should be thinking at a higher level about how do we augment those digital experiences with physical interactions too.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah, absolutely. The next one we thought was interesting and helpful as branding together.

Josh Dougherty: So I don't know if this is the biggest example of this lately is Johnson & Johnson and... Oh, I just went out of my head, Merck working together to manufacture Johnson & Johnson's vaccine. Two brands that hate each other that compete ruthlessly with each other. I don't think they really hate each other. They like to make money at each other's expense, choosing to put that aside and actually do something for the good of society.

Josh Dougherty: That's a really big idea, but I think, I don't know, it's an interesting piece to think about how could you do that with one of your competitors and say, "How do we build our brands together?" This again goes back to the brave marketing that we talked about a little bit before of really highlighting where best for these people, our competitor is best for this person. And we can market together fearlessly because we know that there's a sweet spot for both of us.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah.

Josh Dougherty: I don't know, Polly. What do you think are some other good examples of where this could happen? Is there anything that comes to mind?

Polly Yakovich: Well, I don't have a specific one off the top of my head, but I do, as you were talking, I was like, "It doesn't necessarily have to be competitors." It could be a smart union of things that at one moment may be like, "Oh, these are disparate fields or don't fit perfectly together. I wouldn't have thought of these brands together." I think one of the things that we have really been talking about and Josh has a really wonderful quote in his blog posts about people wanting more accountability, people having a renewed sense of purpose. One of the things after the last year with like Black Lives Matter and all sorts of enhanced views on plights of people that have been long left out of the mainstream, particularly here in the United States. I think that you'll see brands making the choice to come together the greater good and solve some bigger problems.

Polly Yakovich: This is something that you saw in the Trust Barometer as well. And this is why branding together, I think is a really interesting trend this year is you see companies being like, "Yeah, this could be good for business and also it's just good for humans and for people. So let's collaborate and do this thing together." I think probably as I've been talking, you've thought of a few examples of things that you've seen recently like that. And I think that this could be a really powerful trend this year in that regard as well.

Josh Dougherty: Totally. The next one is TikTok ads.

Polly Yakovich: This is kind of a give me because-

Josh Dougherty: That's a give me.

Polly Yakovich: ... everyone's been watching TikToK come up. But it looks like TikTok won the battle of the new... There's always new social networks coming around and everyone's betting on which ones are going to stay and not. And if you follow Gary V, he's been hard for TikTok from the beginning and he probably plays in all of them. But he's been chastising marketers from the beginning that they should be in TikTok, but of course ads we're going to follow.

Josh Dougherty: Totally. And I think this is just like the obligatory mentioned that hey, you're in your mid-30s, your mid-40s, your mid-50s, you can't any longer say this is a thing for 13 year olds. You need to start thinking about it.

Polly Yakovich: Especially if you want to sell the 13 year olds.

Josh Dougherty: Yes. The next piece that I think is really interesting is ethical scorecards. As there's a couple organizations that I've worked on building scorecards for corporations, I think that what are they doing around things that people in society care about today. Things like LGBTQ rights around COVID-19, it's the thing that people are talking about right now. I think around even human rights, those types of things is there is a desire for more clarity around how are people actually thinking and interacting with this?

Josh Dougherty: And so I think it's important to think about, where do you land on these things? How far are you going to go into implications on how you work and what you do? How you hire all these things, I think that's something we've been thinking hard about as we've come out of things like Black Lives Matter last year. It's like, how do we responsibly and in a real way, respond to the really real issues that are brought up by BLM and by the lack of... By systemic racism and I think I'm trying to go around like a word that is...

Josh Dougherty: So it's like for us to figure out how do we as business leaders actually respond to that? Because our business is probably the best way we have to fight against systemic racism. So I think it's important for people to think about where they stand and then also think about how transparent they want to be about that because people are probably going to drive you to transparency either way.

Polly Yakovich: They are. Really honestly too, I think again, everyone's well-intentioned and then Amazon is just so freaking easy. But I think, especially this last year, granted I'm saying this is a huge grain of salt because many of us worked more and harder than ever, but we also were home and had a little more time to be like, "Actually, I'm going to make that decision to buy from a small local bookshop because I want them to stay in business and I also want to fight them in a little bit."

Polly Yakovich: So I think there's been more of a spotlight on putting your money where your mouth is as far as purchases are concerned. And I think business ethics are becoming more important than ever, particularly as people don't feel like government or religious institutions and nonprofits are really carrying the banner and are looking to businesses more to make societal change. This is going to be an important one to watch.

Josh Dougherty: Yeah. I think a big societal change this bleeds into the next one is this idea of how much are brands providing safety for you? I think the underlying thing that people didn't talk about last year, but that was underneath almost every conversation is what does privacy mean in the 21st century? How does someone deal with my data? How is someone trying to manipulate with me with my data? Are they using it to help me?

Josh Dougherty: I think of our friend, Jacob, who always talked about there is no privacy, so why should I even try to have it? Which is I think more true and more real than most people want to admit. So I think the next thing is people are looking for that privacy in that respect of like, "I'm an individual, treat me as an individual. Let me make my own decisions about my privacy." And I think it's important for us as companies to think about, we are guardians of the trust. Here we go, trust again, trust and privacy that people are asking us to have. So we need to think about how do we interact in a way that is going to build that sense of safety with our customers, with our prospects, with the communities that we cultivate.

Polly Yakovich: I think of this with the ethical one above it too, because a lot of people are looking to brands to provide safety to groups that may not be the majority groups and not wanting to spend money with brands that are exploiting people, regardless of at what level. So this is an important consideration as well. Last but not least.

Josh Dougherty: Last but not least, people want to learn and people are willing to learn from companies. This is again, I think like a gimme trend. SAS companies about academies for years, where you learn about topics were like I think about HubSpot who we are. I will mention we are partners, so we're biased, but they have an amazing digital marketing academy to learn about how to be a marketer right now. It's a silly trend to me, but yes, people-

Polly Yakovich: But continuous. Yes.

Josh Dougherty: ... want to learn. People want to learn from you.

Polly Yakovich: For free?

Josh Dougherty: For free. So let them learn from you for free. The added benefit is it builds a massive audience that's going to want to love and trust and buy your products because you're the person who actually taught them something that was helpful beyond actually purchasing what we are selling.

Polly Yakovich: And just to bring it all back to the beginning again, the trust, if people are learning from you, then they're building trust while they do that.

Josh Dougherty: Totally.

Polly Yakovich: Any last thoughts, Josh? Wrap it up for us.

Josh Dougherty: For me, the big summary here is this is a time for us to pick our heads up a little bit from the crisis management that has been COVID and to notice that there are some seismic shifts happening in how we relate to the world because of COVID. And if our marketing doesn't respond, just like anything in digital, it's evolving so quickly, you're going to wake up in a year and realize you didn't. You're way behind the curve.

Josh Dougherty: So you may feel like you don't have that bandwidth to lift your head up and spend 20 minutes thinking about big ideas like this, but hopefully this helps inspire you to think like, if I do this, I get 20 other ideas of how I could do my marketing better. So just encourage everyone and whether you're in a strategic role or you're in a really executional role to look up, look at those trends.

Josh Dougherty: Think about how you can build greater trust because it's not the best executed email or the best executed social campaign that wins. It's the brand that people trust that wins because everyone can do the execution. And in the end not to get too doomsday. Somewhere down the road, AI is going to be able to do a lot of that execution. So it's going to be all about building trust.

Polly Yakovich: The other thing I just think personally, and this is also probably because I'm an impatient person, but rather than spending time, I see here so many conversations that are like bemoaning how the last year or two has changed us, and changed our behavior, and changed our trust, and changed all these things. It's like it has changed us. So let's accept the ways it's changed us. Let's meet the challenge where it's at. It's changed us in some ways for the better. So rather than trying to build back what we had, let's build something better.

Josh Dougherty: 100%.

Polly Yakovich: Let's be better.

Josh Dougherty: I love that.

Polly Yakovich: Cool. Thanks for coming on. You know where to find Josh and I, both @abravenew.com and we will, again, link to Josh's post in the show notes, which has links to all of these resources and more. You can read about this stuff for a really long time. As always, we welcome your thoughts and feedback. So thanks for listening. Thanks for coming, Josh.

Josh Dougherty: Yeah. It was fun to be on. See you later [inaudible 00:41:10].

Outro: Thanks for listening to this episode of A Brave New Podcast. Go to abravenew.com for more resources and advice. If you enjoyed this episode, show us some love by subscribing, rating, and reviewing A Brave New Podcast, wherever you listen to your podcasts.


Polly Yakovich

Polly Yakovich



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