Marketing and communications lessons and predications to help you succeed

As 2023 draws to a close, I’m reflecting on what lessons I learned this year and what I’m looking forward to in 2024.

While the basic rules of marketing and communications haven’t changed, new technologies, lean budgets, and choosier buyers continued to both inspire and challenge marketers.

As always, communicators and marketers adjusted from lessons learned and found new ways to get creative. I asked some of my colleagues for their lessons learned in 2023 and their predictions for 2024.

Here’s what they had to say:

The promise of AI

“In 2023 we saw the rise of both the fear and promise of AI in marketing,” says Leanne Atencio, Owner & Chief Strategist of Vitals Branding & Marketing. “In the year ahead, honing AI to make our marketing processes more efficient will be critical to stay competitive.

“But even more important is putting organizational rules in place to use AI in a trustworthy way to create more personalized marketing engagements. With the rise of this technology, consumers are also becoming more discerning.

“Marketers must respectfully use the insights from AI to make better connections with customers, demonstrate a keen understanding of buyer behaviors, and clearly align the value of their solutions with each customer’s unique needs. I think the year will be a fascinating exploration of companies working to use the technology correctly to gain consumer trust and loyalty.”

But AI will get us only so far

“The rapid evolution of AI-enabled tools for marketers opens new possibilities for how to reach prospects and customers,” says Karen Lien Miller of One Louder Communications. “However, the tools are only effective based on the data we feed them. Marketers still need to understand who they are trying to reach and why to get meaningful results from AI algorithms and writing prompts.”

Be curious

“I have almost three decades of communications experience under my belt. But I learn something new every day about the field,” says Meredith Hilt, Head of Communications at Merative. “Times change. For example, what happened to the oil-and-water separation between earned and sponsored media content that I knew 15 years ago?

“New tools emerge. The SharePoint of today is vastly different from the one I used my first time in internal communications. Everyone can teach me something. I learn so much from my amazing teammates and am incredibly thankful to work with them.”

The art of extensibility

“A lesson I learned in 2023 is the art of extensibility,” says Drew Scharr, Sr. PR & Communications Manager at Arcadia. “As a team of one, I need to find creative ways to do more with less, without scrimping on quality or value.

“I learned I can be creative by squeezing additional mileage out of high-lift activities­—like developing a speaking proposal—by adapting that work for additional tactics—such as media pitches, talking points, and bylined articles. Not only does this make original thought leadership go farther, but it also helps reinforce key messages across a variety of channels over a longer period of time.”

Data is, and always will be, essential

More an emphasis on what’s to come than a lesson learned this year, Molly Watson, Executive Director at Ritz Communications, says, “No data. No story. We keep this message on repeat with our clients and expect increased emphasis in 2024.

“Clients are collecting and tracking data, but key outcomes often don’t make it to the PR team. Establishing processes in which data is routinely shared with communications so that we can apply the data is essential. The results lead to earned media stories that build credibility, create authentic voices, and foster thought leadership – all attributes our clients’ customers value.”

Great advice on lessons learned and predictions from some super-smart marketers and communicators. I continue to be impressed by how creative and flexible we are when faced with new challenges and technologies.

By both staying true to our roots (always make and use a Message Map!) and taking chances on new ideas and technologies, marketers will continue to find new ways to improve brand awareness and increase pipeline.

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