As 2020 comes to a close, it is time to reflect on the many lessons we — albeit unwillingly — learned throughout the past year. Being faced with scenarios we’d never dreamed of, 2020 was the year of creative solutions during impossible scenarios and any great marketer would know the number one question to ask yourself is: what did I learn from that experience?

Now I hate to come off as disappointing, but the reality is the world of digital marketing hasn’t really changed at its core. 2020 has seen a massive shift in consumer trends, and businesses are trying to catch up, all while responding to the realities of a global pandemic. What customers want from the brands they support has shifted for a number of reasons, but the principles of marketing remain the same.

The 4 P’s of Marketing

Many aspects of our lives have changed in 2020, but the basics of marketing have remained the same. Let’s all take a trip back to our very first marketing lesson: the 4 P’s. Product, Price, Place and Promotion; these principles are still at the heart of everything we do. Brands that have remained successful during 2020 learned quickly that they had to adjust the 4 P’s of their business to ensure survival. 


Throughout 2020, some brands remained successful by pivoting their product offerings. Now, when I say that, I don’t mean they changed their entire business model. However, some brands were extremely successful in assessing what materials they have and how they could shift to fill a need in the market. 

A great example of this is seen in Canadian breweries producing hand sanitizer. With a lull in regular business, the breweries found that they had all the equipment they needed to produce a product that was – and still is – in high demand. They recognized a need that they could fill temporarily, with little inconvenience to their processes, and capitalized on it. Sometimes to be successful in business you have to know when to pivot.


Price is fairly straightforward, and is somewhat restricted to margins, however when all else fails price can be the deciding factor for customers. We’re all feeling the effects of financial uncertainty with the large-scale lockdowns and job losses, and with that comes more conscious consumer spending. Now, I am not saying you have to slash your prices to make a sale, but it is always a factor in purchasing decisions.


Now, Place is the factor that many have struggled with through 2020. When brick-and-mortar stores are not an option, where do your customers find your products? Any business that didn’t have online buying options quickly realized they were at a massive disadvantage as in-person shopping plummeted. Get your business online, even just through Facebook or Instagram shops. No matter what happens in 2021, make sure your customers can access your products.


2020 has been the year of intentional messaging or content sensitivity. While I think we can all agree that promotion in some form is always necessary, it is the messaging that will make or break a business in a post-COVID world. 

The most important thing is to avoid mental flagging. What I mean by that is be mindful of the emotions your content inspires in consumers. Your campaign should NEVER leave consumers feeling fear, anxiety or stress unless it is immediately resolved in the campaign. There is enough fear in the world, your brand should be adding to that. The better your brand makes consumers feel, the more likely they are to purchase from you.

The Power of Social Media

Social media was powerful before 2020, but this past year has solidified social media platforms as leading outlets for digital marketing, eCommerce and promotion. In 2020, billions of users spent more than 2.5 hours a day on social media channels, that’s a lot of eyes to see your content. 

Influencer marketing is the newest avenue of paid media online and has been extremely successful for many brands. If you need proof of this, just take a look at the beauty industry. Influencer marketing works for one reason: trust. Influencers are a verified voice telling millions of their friends they should buy your products, often in very creative ways.  


The last lesson we learned in 2020 is the power of community; we’re all in this together. As we learned as individuals this past year, standing alone — literally in quarantine — is extremely difficult. Keeping a community of people around you – even virtually – was exponentially more positive than being in isolation. The same principle applies to business in 2020. Brands that are active and helpful in their communities are more desirable to both consumers and potential recruits, especially among millennials

The good news is, 2020 is over! And as we enter a new year, we aren’t leaving everything behind. Some of this year’s digital marketing trends are sure to follow us into 2021.