I've never met Mark Schaefer, but I have interviewed him on my podcast and  we have both lectured at Rutgers University in New Jersey.  (I should point out that Mark has lectured at Rutgers a lot, lot, longer (and still does), than I did.)

If you don't read his material you should, here is a quote from his latest blog which is a great metaphor to sum up 2020.

Over to Mark.

"Traditionally, this is the time I would write a post projecting how I see marketing evolving in the coming year. In this period of obviously weird disruption, I've decided to write a weird and disruptive post. Instead of the list of trends you might expect, I'll tell you a short (and true) story demonstrating why 2021 will be the most important year in the history of marketing.

Here we go:

Last week I visited a friend who showed me an Instagram video of her young nephew blowing out candles on a Barney birthday cake. "I freaked out!" she said. "In this day and age, how can anybody be blowing all over a cake? I will never blow out birthday cake candles again!"

That's it.

In less than 60 words, I've described an entire world of cataclysmic marketing trends."

I'm still not sure we realise how much has changed because of the pandemic, I guess there are too many people that think it will go back to the way it was.  My view is that it will never go back, there is too much water under the bridge. 

What are the predictions for 2021?


Trust will be central to what we do as businesses going forward. 

Trust, while has an element of brand, this is about the people.  Can you trust the CEO? the Board of Directors?  The sales people?

With more and more of us that migrating onto social media, (4.14 Billion) than not on social media (see research here) it becomes a strategic imperative to have the CEO, the Board of Directors (the C-Suite) the sales people, in fact the whole of the company on social media.  In fact you now must take the company culture and you put it on social.

Why?  Because it is now expected of a business, in fact if you don't people think you are hiding something.

A friend of mine said to me about somebody not on social media, "that's weird, what are they trying to hide?".

So many companies say to us "our USP (unique selling point) is the culture" or a candidate has to have a "culture fit".  

Companies that have employees with Linkedin profiles as CV as seen by their customers and everybody else as dinosaurs. 

Come on businesses, put your culture on social, be transparent.  This is the way, you will get the best people, make the most sales and the most efficient supply chain. More on these in a moment. 

Ethical, transparent leadership should be your norm.

This isn't something that "happens" there is a change program driven from the top down, with the leaders leading.  There has to be a methodology that people follow.  Social becomes a strategy, not a tactic.  


Trust dovetails into Purpose, with the employees on social, they are empowered to share their experiences, their beliefs, their values.

For example, Human Resources (HR) could share an article about the importance of Diversity within the business or work life balance.  Showcase to the world you business beliefs and values.  This is shared through that employees network.  

Remember, this is not a corporate message this is shared by the employee, through a network that knows, likes and trusts that person.  That network will amplify it.  Keep doing this and you will become the employer of choice in your industry.

In Purchasing you could share an article about the importance of sustainability for your suppliers.  Again, this is putting out a message in the market that offers trust and purpose.  Shared through the employees network, people who know, like and trust.  Before you know it, you will have suppliers that meet that sustainability criteria.

In the old days you might have used PR (Public Relations) or adverts to do this, nobody reads press releases and nobody looks at adverts, the modern world is digital. 

Let's go where your employees, prospective customers, customers and future employees are ... on social.

Board Skills

Boards still need to have skills such as compliance, regulation, they also need to understand intergenerational differences.

I often ask people if they have ordered a Uber?  Uber is such a great metaphor for the digital experience.  Last year in San Francisco my business partner and I went everywhere by Uber, it is such a frictionless way to do business.  

So much so that when my life partner came out to join me and she and I travelled to Vancouver.  It was raining, we were told to stand in a taxi line (queue), there were no taxis.  Really?  After the utility experience of an Uber, you want a taxi anywhere, you use an app and you can see where it is.  Why would I want to stand in line. 

If you don't use Uber, you have never felt a digital experience. 

Your Board is going to have to get used to "network management" no longer can you open the door of your office and check to see who are at their desks.  If you had 3 offices with 1,000 people in each, now you have 3,000 offices.

This has a massive employee welfare and mental health position.  We know from research that employees feel neglected, so how do management open new lines of communication? How does you get remote workers, infused, engaged and effective?  Through social.

Social will provide the mechanism for communication, connection and collaboration.


Social media is no longer a destination, it's where we live, this is one of the impacts that covid 19 has made on us.  We are used to living at home and buying "everything" through the internet.

Again, check out this research.

We spend our lives in social, we communicate through social, it's where we are and it's where our customers are.

In fact our employee expect us to have cultural interplay of social.  Sharing, creating, collaborating, sharing with each other.

Here at DLA Ignite we have realised that Zoom and Teams are not fit for purpose for what we want to do in terms of delivering an interactive online experience for clients.  The DLA Ignite team have collaborated across the globe and found meetbutter within a day we are having a meeting with the CEO, Jakob.  This is a team empowered to make a change, empowered to collaborate, Meetbutter might not be the answer, but it's great watching the team come to the decision.

This is empowered decision making.

Trust in Sales

Gone are the days were sales was about manipulation.

For starters there is legislation, for example the 2018 introduced GDPR replications in Europe, or the technology has put an end to endless cold calls.  I have the Apple iOS 13 functionality installed that drives all cold calls to my voicemail.  I now never get cold calls, or I am never bothered by them. 

But let's take a step back, has an advert, spam email, cold call, brochure ever sold anything?  No.  What sells something is a conversation.

Social allows your salesforce to create conversations.

Not in a way where you spam people with sales pitches on social, that is just a cold call on a social network.  But connecting to people, know me, like me, trust me.

Sales people are about inspiring, educating, sharing their purpose, culture.  We know we have a modern empowered buyer, who is on social media, so let's go out and find them and tell them something they don't know.

Let's start a conversation. 

Where Do We Go From Here?

Just give me, or one of the DLA Ignite team and hour of your time and we can walk you through how we transform business.  No hard sell, just take you through what other companies are doing to increase efficiency and effectiveness and drive out cost.  Just the tonic for a pandemic, where your Board needs to do more with less.

Please contact me here or one of the DLA Ignite team here, so please pick one of our industry experts or one of our experts in your geographical locality.  Our website is here.