How do you summarize 2020? It’s a year that stands apart, considering all the adjustments we’ve made and innovations we quickly learned and executed. We chatted with Trilix’s three owners to reflect on the adaptations we made to our operations and marketing strategies in 2020 and what they look forward to in 2021.

This has been a year of extremes. What were the biggest challenges and the biggest triumphs of 2020?

Ron Maahs, CEO: I could never have thought the pandemic would be a challenge we’d deal with and all of the struggles it brought from a workflow and collaboration perspective. However, everyone at Trilix really stepped up and rolled with the punches to keep our work moving and to maintain safety. We’ve actually had a good year, and there’s been some amazingly creative work that has come out of Trilix. Considering the difficulties we’ve all faced, that's pretty impressive.

Todd Senne, president: The biggest hurdle has been the complete disruption of our normal business practices. We're in a very collaborative industry. While technology allows us to continue to collaborate, there is no substitution for face-to-face contact to build relationships with coworkers and clients. One of the biggest triumphs is how we set up all employees to work remotely and maintained great communication with the tools we have.

Brett Adams, chief marketing officer: Similar to many other businesses, we overcame and helped our clients overcome challenges, including changing work environments, using new technologies and solving logistical issues. Our ability to adapt quickly and continuously has helped us remain successful and develop new strategies.

What should marketers prioritize in 2021?

Ron: The best thing people can do is move forward. Don't be afraid to take chances. Many of the challenges brought by the pandemic will end. Taking a chance could give you the opportunity to be on the front end of those advancements and get your message out first. It’s also important to maintain the flexibility you’ve created in 2020 so you can best serve your customers.

Todd: The most important thing they can do is focus on internal communications. Make sure all your employees and stakeholders understand the new game plan and can communicate it effectively. All great marketing comes from inside out. You’ve got to have your teammates on board first so they understand what you're trying to achieve before you can go out to the world and try to change it.

Brett: Have a real willingness to diversify your marketing plan so you can scale accordingly, whether it’s financially, strategically or through your offerings. For example, everyone has spent more time at home on mobile devices and in front of televisions. Marketers should take advantage of that and anticipate how people are going to absorb information in the future. Having a flexible approach allows you to change with ever-evolving consumer habits. Companies realize they need to better prepare for future challenges by developing and implementing crisis communication and issues management strategies.

What feedback do you have for marketers since the pandemic hit?

Ron: I've been pretty impressed with how nimble marketers have been with their message, method or medium. Large and small brands alike have adapted. For example, Trilix has changed the way we shoot video, and we’ve done our best to be as safe as possible. We know if we don’t provide that service, clients can't communicate as effectively to their audiences.

Todd: In times of great adversity, companies that are able to adjust quickly in their marketing and communications have a better chance of surviving the adversity and unknowns. Valuing marketing allows them to take advantage of new opportunities and play to consumers’ constantly changing habits.

Brett: It’s been amazing to see how different businesses pivoted and made sure their communications were sensitive and timely. At first, most people thought the effects of the pandemic would last a few weeks or a few months. Now that we’re almost a year in, I’m even more impressed with how many adaptations marketers have made to continue to build relationships with internal and external audiences.  

What themes will define business and marketing in 2021?

Ron: For the first half of 2021, we likely still won’t have in-person events, and brands are going to find other ways to communicate with internal and external audiences. Many industries relied on trade shows to reach their clients and customers. Having those events disappear made people think twice about their importance and their lead generation strategies. I fully anticipate a percentage of trade shows to disappear forever, but I also expect many of them to come back even stronger, showing which events are worth the time and effort.

Todd: There is a ton of pent-up demand for the goods and services we haven’t been able to enjoy since early 2020. I think the economy will explode at some point if we have a vaccine. Until then, we’ll see a lot more advancements in the way we can use technology to connect.

Brett: The brands that have not yet evolved their offerings or operations must do so. There are some businesses that have thrived during this time, and they’re going to build on what's been successful for them. Those businesses stuck in uncertainty — such as those in the entertainment, travel or restaurant industries — need to change their products and services and how they market them. Even if we’re able to return to some pre-pandemic habits, many new offerings are here to stay, such as online ordering and delivery. Some fast food restaurants already remodeled to better facilitate online and drive-through orders because they know consumers’ demand for that service won’t go away. We’re also going to see B2B playing catchup with the tools that B2C brands already implemented. Though B2B has relied on some more traditional, face-to-face communication in the past, businesses have realized the need to use new apps or devices to connect remotely.

Unsure of how to adapt your marketing plans as we enter a new year? Our marketing experts are happy to help.