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21 wishes for B2B marketing in 2021

As we talked about how to wrap up 2020, we didn’t want to focus on the negative. While a lot of 2020 was an anxiety-fueled dumpster fire, it also was a year of empathy, innovation, and reevaluating priorities.

Looking into 2021, we decided to focus on our wishes and goals for the new year. Some of our wishes are things we’d like to see happen, and others are silver linings from 2020 that we’d like to see continue.

Read the full list below, or scroll down to listen to the episode.

Umault’s 21 wishes for 2021

  1. Marketers get more brave.
    No one writes articles in Forbes about the time a company or marketing team played it safe. Experiment, be bold, take risks.
  2. Marketers stand up to CEOs with bad ideas.
    Your leadership team hired you to bring marketing expertise to your company. Taking their ideas directly might seem to be a good way to curry favor, until the project flops and it’s on your shoulders.
  3. More B2B brands realize that having a personality doesn’t mean you aren’t smart or worth a high price tag.
    In 2020, B2C brands embraced acting like people on social media. Let’s carry that over into B2B marketing.
  4. People start to realize that story is not modular.
    Yes, marketing videos have a story. You can’t rearrange the parts just to satisfy internal politics any more than you can rearrange the episodes of Breaking Bad and expect to understand Walter’s character progression.
  5. Marketers go on a “framework” diet.
    Frameworks weaken your creative muscles. Try working without them in 2021.
  6. More people embrace scheduling tools like Calendly.
    Fewer emails in 2021!
  7. Marketers stop making videos that have been made before.
    Sometimes a new client will approach us about a project, then we look at their YouTube page and see five versions of that video going back to 2009. If you want to stand out in 2021, make something new.
  8. Companies allow WFH forever for those who want it.
    We hope that 2020 has helped companies realize that facetime doesn’t mean productivity or that offices are the right fit for all people. But for those people who want to keep working from home? Our wish for you is to set and enforce boundaries.
  9. Marketers realize that customers aren’t dumb.
    You’d be amazed how many of our clients and prospects seem to think that decision makers at top companies are too dumb to understand a metaphor. They’re not! They’re actually brilliant and prefer content that doesn’t talk down to them.
  10. Time is seen as an asset and not a liability.
    In the same way that rushing an artisan furniture maker will lead to wobbly chairs, rushing your creative team will lead to shoddy videos.
  11. People still get to feel virtuous for ordering takeout.
    We’re supporting local businesses!
  12. People start accepting (and embracing) camera-less Zoom calls.
    Bring back the phone call 2021.
  13. We don’t lose the innovativeness that came from pandemic.
    The world was forced into a huge rethink in March. People and companies weren’t afraid to take risks and try things. We hope that more people are willing to make hard decisions and try new things (even if they might fail) in the new year.
  14. We continue to have additional empathy for our coworkers.
    In 2020, we became more empathetic of our coworkers’ lives. Let’s continue respecting and understanding them as people.
  15. The Cincinnati Bengals win a playoff game.
    Some of these wishes had to be a long shot. 🤷‍♀️
  16. We prioritize creativity instead of brute force.
    Let’s spend more time thinking and less time doing. It’s cheaper and less time consuming to spend time on the creative phase than endless rounds of production.
  17. People realize you get what you pay for when it comes to creative.
    Sure you can get creative for free, but then that’s what it’s likely worth.
  18. We all stop looking to the competition for what to do.
    Drop the herd mentality and go your own way.
  19. Brand, brand, brand.
    ABM, lead gen, and demand gen all have their place, but in 2021 let’s spend more time building brands and less time chasing leads. (For more on this, everyone should read the B2B Institute’s 2030 B2B Trends whitepaper.)
  20. We embrace a slower pace of life and work going forward.
    2020 forced us to clear all our calendars. Let’s be judicious on what we add back in. Not every moment needs to be scheduled.
  21. Have fun when marketing – it’s the best job in business!

You can listen to the episode using the player embedded above, or you can read a full transcript below.

Episode transcript

Hope Morley: Hello and welcome to a special holiday edition of "So You Need a Video." We were talking about doing a year end episode it is the end of 2020. And a lot of people are talking about, good riddance to this year and moving on, but we wanted to take a little bit more of a positive spin. So instead of thinking about all the dumpster fire things that happened this year, because there were also plenty of good things that happened this year. We decided to make this episode, our 21 wishes for 2021 looking forward and looking into the new year.

Guy Bauer: Yeah and we're going to make this quick for you so that it's not a two hour long episode, 'cause it could easily turn into that. So, Hope has the bell, and we're gonna be... It's a bell app. It's not a real bell and we're gonna be keeping strict time. So we'll limit each response to one minute.

Hope Morley: Yeah.

Guy Bauer: Want me to go first?

Hope Morley: Yeah, why don't you go first? What is your number one wish? And these are in no particular order, but for the sake of starting off, what is your first wish for 2021?

Guy Bauer: My first wish and maybe this is the biggest wish, you'll see a trend on all my wishes, is that it all revolves around bravery. And so, I wish that marketers get more brave. I think fortune favors the bold and every article... It's so funny as we read all these LinkedIn articles and in no LinkedIn article, does it say, this company had success because they followed a framework and a formula. And it had been done by a thousand companies before and they really didn't risk anything, like no article or case study or anything in Money magazine or Entrepreneur magazine or whatever, no article goes like that. It always goes, they didn't know it was gonna work, everybody in the company thought they were crazy. It's all around bravery and that doesn't mean to take crazy risks, but it does mean to take risks.

Hope Morley: I know.

Guy Bauer: My second wish, revolves around I guess bravery, I guess there's the common theme there is that, marketers need to stand up to CEOs with bad ideas. So my second wish is that when the CEO comes up with an idea that we... Obviously the CEO is the driver of the company and we have to listen to what he or she says, too many marketers take that almost like they're just taking a pizza order, instead of like digging in and molding the CEO's idea. They kind of just take it as a verbatim and then usually I find that CEOs are never really happy with the output. And you can't go back to your CEO saying, "But we did what you said" because then they'll just throw it back. "But that's why I pay you to do marketing." So, we need to stand up to CI... Why do I keep saying CIO? CEOs with bad ideas a little bit better. Hope-

Hope Morley: So, my first wish for 2021. And this is specifically for talking to the B2B marketers out there, is that I wish that more B2B brands would realize that having a personality in your marketing and in your social doesn't mean that you're automatically not smart or that you're not worth a high price tag. In 2020, we saw a lot of B2C brands kind of having a moment of like letting more humanity come through in their social like, Steak-umm's Twitter account kind of went viral this year. And you're like, what? You're frozen meat, like, why are you having such a personality? And I would love to see that start to carry over into B2B brands to kind of embrace that humanity a little bit more.

Guy Bauer: Should I download a bell to?

Hope Morley: No, I'm self-checking-

Guy Bauer: Well, here no, so that you're not worrying about time, let me just test my bell. Okay, can you hear that?

Hope Morley: Yeah.

Guy Bauer: Okay, I will police you when it's your time. Okay, here we go. So is this our fourth overall wish?

Hope Morley: Yes.

Guy Bauer: Fourth overall wish, my third wish is that, we all realized that story is not modular. So just because, you know, I'm talking about, I guess a video or a sales letter or any kind of collateral that has a story you can't just like arrange the pieces in any given order due to internal politics and it still makes sense. It's kind of like, taking an airplane and rearranging the wings and putting the tail on the nose and putting the fuselage under the left wing. And the right wing is vertical underneath the tail or whatever and the engines are all in random places. Like the plane will not fly. Story is meant to be together and put in a particular order that makes it make sense just like a plane has those parts, all have to work yes, by themselves, but they also have to be put into a very specific order to be effective. I guess wish number five, is that we all go on a framework diet and I'm the first one to admit-

Hope Morley: What do you mean by that?

Guy Bauer: So if there's some kind of like, you know, thing... What does that call the word the first letter spells out a thing like success and it's like, simplicity, understanding-

Hope Morley: Acrostic.

Guy Bauer: What is that called?

Hope Morley: Acrostic.

Guy Bauer: What is it?

Hope Morley: Acrostic.

Guy Bauer: Acrostic. Those are like, you know, there's these frameworks of what to do with marketing and you have to fill out all the quadrants and stuff. And I'll be the first to admit, I love 'em, as half of me is German. I love formulas. I love processes. I love all that stuff, but it really does cloud just your macro view of, is this something or not? Is this good or not? And I think if creativity was a very oblique muscle in your body the frameworks make that muscle weak. That's my resolution of 2021, no more frameworks and no more... What is that called acaustic?

Hope Morley: Acrostic.

Guy Bauer: Acrostic. Acaustic would be toxic, right?

Hope Morley: Yeah.

Guy Bauer: All right, Hope go ahead.

Hope Morley: All right, wish number six, I wanna see more people start to embrace scheduling tools like Calendly next year. There are so many back and forth emails that people do just trying to schedule a fricking meeting and all, like, we've already solved this problem. And there's an app. What the... My free bell app is playing a commercial right now-

Guy Bauer: Oh, no way.

Hope Morley: Let me pause it. Should I just do that again?

Guy Bauer: Keep going you've got 30 seconds.

Hope Morley: People waste so much time sending emails back and forth and then we have created apps and websites and services that will solve these things for you. So, use services like Calendly, a lot of salespeople are using them. I love it. I love that you can just pick what time you wanna talk to somebody. I wanna see more businesses using 'em.

Guy Bauer: And just so you know, internal note to you Hope our HubSpot account has that-

Hope Morley: Yeah, I know.

Guy Bauer: So we can all set that up for ourselves. Okay, you were on time. Nice job. Seventh wish is, marketers stop making videos that have been made before. Oh yeah, yeah. So many times when we get new project requests, I'll go to your YouTube channel and I'll see that you've made this video six times before and maybe not exactly like-

Hope Morley: And why doesn't it work?

Guy Bauer: Right. There was this idea when I worked on "Crank Yankers" the TV show that if... It was a prank call show and the writers would come up with all these premises and then they would try to record them. And the general rule of thumb was that if it wasn't funny on the fourth try, like after calling four people, if it wasn't funny or no one was reacting they didn't just keep going they moved on to a different premise. And the idea is just like, it's just not working. So, same thing here, if it's not working, there's something wrong with the macro idea, don't keep like going into it and try to remake the video over and over.

Hope Morley: Wish number eight, this is a broader one, it's not specific to marketing but I hope more companies realized after 2020 that people can work from home and be equally as productive if they want it. I really wanna break this opinion that some companies seem to have that like face time means productivity or that offices are the right fit for all people. And some people are really excited to go back to the office, so if that's what you want, great go back, enjoy it. But on the flip side then, for people who do decide to keep working from home, you gotta start enforcing and encouraging your own boundaries. I just saw an article that this year we all traded our commute time for just longer working hours. That time used to be yours, reclaim it. Take that time to read a book or like scroll through Instagram or like whatever you used to do on your commute. Like reclaim that time. That was your time. It's not your company's time.

Guy Bauer: Yeah. You're so good at timing, but I'm gonna bell you anyway. Okay, wish number nine. Oh, my gosh okay. Whoo! Your customers are not dumb. There's so many times I've heard like, our customers don't get a subtlety and they're not gonna get a metaphor. So what you're saying that these people who are developing the most complex solutions in the world won't understand something that's a little bit nuanced or a metaphor. And if that was the case, any TV show that is in any bit makes you work would be such a failure. "Sopranos" failure, "Mad Men" failure and the world would just be populated with "How I Met Your Mother" and "The Big Bang Theory." But that's not the case. I mean, your customers, aren't dumb. They can see inauthenticity they can see you're dumbing it down. And in fact, they don't enjoy when everything's on the nose, people like working for their content. They love trying to figure out a mystery. Wish number 10 is, so many times, time is seen as like a liability and that's where these rushes come in. And actually, as I've gotten older and owned an agency longer and longer, I see through these fake timelines, few times there are real timeline pressures, right? Like we are presenting this thing on June 10th. Yeah, right. But a lot of times it's just, well, we just want it done by this date and at some arbitrary date. And that is like you're exchanging such value there like, time really is an asset. It's a huge creative asset. The idea of sleeping on it and just having more time to think about it and vet it and run it up the chain, stop seeing time... Stop like kind of converting time into a liability and convert time into an asset. I think that'll pay off in the long run.

Hope Morley: Yeah, wish number 11. This is a short one. I just wanna continue to feel virtuous every time I order takeout and just keep this mindset of like, I'm supporting local businesses, they need me, they need me to eat these tacos and not feel like, oh, I should really be cooking at home. No, I'm always gonna pour money into my local economy and I'm gonna keep doing it in 2021.

Guy Bauer: I one hundred percent agree with you Hope. I think this is the best wish of all... Although, you know what... I'm a big Uber Eats fan. I just found out that they charge 15% commission to the restaurants. They take 15%.

Hope Morley: Yeah.

Guy Bauer: So that...

Hope Morley: Order direct from the restaurant if you can.

Guy Bauer: Yeah. But I agree. And after we had Antique Taco over the weekend, man it is... And you just can't get that stuff in the burbs.

Hope Morley: Now I want to-

Guy Bauer: Wish number 12, I'm just doing this. I'm doing this unilaterally, I don't care. We need to start accepting cameraless Zoom or Google Meets or whatever. Like, why do you need to see me? I ain't that much to look at. Like, what value does my face bring to this whole thing? It really doesn't.

Hope Morley: One hundred percent, at some point in 2020, every phone call became a Zoom call. And I'm like why, when did this happen?

Guy Bauer: And there's this also phenomenon, I don't know if you've noticed it, but you know, the Zoom call will start with cameras off. And then if one seniorish person turns their camera on, then it like... You know, everyone turns their camera on and I refuse to, I will not, you know, unless it's the president of the United States. My resolution... That camera is going off. And why do you need to see this? Like, why do we even have a camera on now?

Hope Morley: For the YouTube.

Guy Bauer: The YouTube? That's wish number 12, wish number 13 is "holy moly" just in our own agency, but I've seen in all of our clients, the innovativeness of 2020. I mean, so many of our customers have done such smart things and we've done such crazy things to this agency. I hope that that whole, is it ethos continues into 2021. I love that. Like everyone's getting scrappy and trying new things and just making smart moves. So I hope that carries on.

Hope Morley: Wish number 14 is another continuation of things... Of something that I saw in 2020 that I wanna continue. I feel like I saw in 2020 that co-workers and employers started to have a lot more empathy for their employees as human beings. We just became a lot more understanding that people have a life outside of work. And maybe that is the cameras in Zoom that we've started to come into people's houses. And there's this understanding that childcare is an issue for any parents in the workforce. And I just would really love to see that empathy continuing through and just, we see more understanding of that, you know, work is eight hours of your day which is a huge chunk, but you're a human, you've got a family, you've got a life, you might even, you don't have kids, but you still need to have your life outside of work. So, I wanna see that in 2021.

Guy Bauer: Yeah totally, wish number 15 is short but I'm starting to really think that I may die before seeing the Cincinnati Bengals win a game in the playoffs or reach the Super Bowl. My hope is in 2021, the Bengals just make the playoffs-

Hope Morley: Just make it, they don't even have to win a game.

Guy Bauer: Yeah well, I would like them to win a playoff maybe I'll revise it, I would like them to win a playoff game. That would make me really happy because they're terrible and they have been my whole life... And just maybe, in 2021 that would be nice.

Hope Morley: One of these days.

Guy Bauer: Wait, that wasn't a minute-

Hope Morley: I'm just moving you on.

Guy Bauer: I could filibuster here about the Bengals. Wish number 16 is, prioritize creativity over brute force, thinking over doing, same thing with the time idea. You know, like think about stuff, spend way more time thinking than doing and the doing becomes easier and more effective. There's this T-shirt that I wanna buy. There's this common saying in our industry when, like filming stuff, "Fix It In Post." But this T-shirt says "Fix It In Pre" - pre-production. And I think so many marketers and companies again, are under that time fire that may or may not be true or real. And 9 times out of 10 it's not real but think, spend your time thinking and talking and sleeping on it. Instead of just brute force doing, the doing is very inefficient, expensive. The thinking is virtually free. Prioritize creativity instead of brute force.

Hope Morley: But it almost as a counterpoint, the thinking is not free. My wish number 17 is for marketers and businesses to realize that you get what you pay for when it comes to creative. You can get creative for free. There are video production agencies out there that will give you an idea for free, and you just have to pay for the production. It's likely worth what you paid for it. If you get a free idea, it's worth probably next to nothing. Have you paid for a good idea? It's probably pretty good. So, I wanna see more people realizing that the same as anything in business, you know, you can get a cheap option, you can get a free option, but it's not gonna be the best option.

Guy Bauer: Yeah totally. Yeah and I think, when I was talking about, thinking is free on your end, it's free you're being challenged but yeah, totally. Creative is same thing with time. You should spend more time thinking and I think you should spend more money on the idea and less money on the actual doing, you know, thinking over bad force. Wish number 18 stop looking to the competition for what to do. And this is just human nature. We like consensus and there's safety in numbers and all that stuff. And if you look around the... Well, it used to be in person it's coming back, but if you look around the trade show or whatever and everyone in your industry has blue with AI nodes and like eyes and stuff like that. And you're the only company that's red with a bridge or something, there is this feeling and emotion that humans get, like did I miss out on something? Like am I making a gigantic mistake? And what ends up happening is because we're like herd creatures and seek safety and consensus. That's why you and your competition can sometimes look and sound exactly alike, swap out the logos at the end of the spot and it's your competition. So, literally put the blinders on, understand what they're doing. And that's good just from being smart standpoint, but from creativity, put the blinders on. Wish number 19, there was this amazing PDF put out by the B2B Institute called 2030 B2B marketing trends. I'm not sure if that's the title verbatim, but that's pretty much the point of it. And their big thing is, the rise of ABM and all the hyper targeting and everything has allowed companies to get hyper-focused. And really, the idea of demand gen and lead gen really took over. And you know, why would we waste money on some foofy brand piece when we can just hyper target our customers? Well, everybody's doing that now. So again, it goes back to now, well how do you differentiate you have a stronger brand? So, this report it's a mastery, please read it-

Hope Morley: We'll link to it.

Guy Bauer: Yeah, but the whole idea is brand, brand, brand that at any given time, only 10% of your audience is in-market for what you need. All those sales tactics just target the 10% in-market, the 90% out-of-market that could be in-market five years from now. That's how you win those people by branding.

Hope Morley: Alright, wish number 20, we're almost at the end here. Number 20, this is probably one of my number ones going forward, but, let's embrace a slower pace of life and work in 2021. I think 2020 cause us all to just like slam on the brakes, we realized that we were like, over-scheduling our lives. I think that we had a little, you know, now we've gone back to nothing is scheduled. We wanna come in the middle there, but like let's just take a step back and spend a little bit more time... Spend a little more time at home with your family and like slow down. You don't have to have events all weekend, every weekend, every weeknight. Let's not schedule every moment of our lives.

Guy Bauer: I was telling someone, the pandemic actually matches my social distancing is kind of like my ideal way of being, I don't like going to parties or anything. So the whole, oh we can't have a birthday party for little Jake, like, aah sucks, I have to stay home now. And the final wish, my final wish and probably my biggest wish is, holy moly people, we have the best job in the world. Marketing is the coolest job in business. Most of whatever... Have you ever walked around your office or talk to other people? I mean, I can't even stay awake when they tell me what they're doing. It's boring, we have fun and yeah, we're doing like copy and emails and testing out yada, but take a step back every now and then realize like, we are the rock stars of business. We're in marketing. We're the cool ones. You're cool.

Hope Morley: And without marketing, the rest of the business is zero, nothing, like who's bringing in new clients, like sure, yes sales teams love you, but come on marketing.

Guy Bauer: Yeah we're the cool ones. And we have the best job in business, so have fun. Not taking anything seriously, but I know, obviously we all have bosses and stuff but-

Hope Morley: Do you Guy? Do you have a boss?

Guy Bauer: Clients. We always have a boss.

Hope Morley: Yeah.

Guy Bauer: That's it.

Hope Morley: All right, that's it, yay!

Guy Bauer: All right, lemme run it. Whoo, whoo!

Hope Morley: That's it, our 21 wishes for 2021. Thanks for listening and joining us today. And we hope that you'll keep listening to us throughout 2021. You can follow us the across social channels, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn. We post some of our best stuff on there, so check us out give us a follow. umault.com, u-m-a-u-l-t.com

Thank you for listening. Happy New Year.





Picture of Guy bauer, founder of umault

Guy has been making commercial videos for over 20 years and is the author of “Death to the Corporate Video: A Modern Approach that Works.” He started the agency in 2010 after a decade of working in TV, film and radio. He’s been losing hair and gaining weight ever since.

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