DFW Leaders Weigh In: Top Marketing Trends Shaping 2021

By: AMA DFW Staff

We have come to know 2020 as the year of the COVID-19 where we have socially distanced ourselves from each other and the activities we love. This “seclusion” has birthed a miraculous innovative mindset in us humans to figure out how we can actually connect safely. Quite frankly, our communities, the economy; we all depend on it.

This dynamic shift has also clearly impacted the world of marketing and driven a burst of creative interaction and engagement. So in the spirit of community and learning from each other, we’re presenting insights from some of the leading marketing minds across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex representing a range of industries.

But this is just the start of the conversation. We welcome all perspectives and a healthy debate, so please jump in with comments and share what’s top of mind for you in the coming year.


Authentic communications pave the way for a more diverse, equal and inclusive future 

“Brands will need to spend a lot more time, energy and resources in Strategic Communications. Being authentic, intentional, impactful and adaptable are needed during these challenging times. Between a global pandemic, racial inequality, social injustice, political unrest and a suffering economy, organizations will need to plan and navigate a crisis through public relations, communications, marketing and strategic storytelling.” David Frederick, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas

“We have the power to drive the change for equity. The language of marketing should bear in mind the diversity and inclusion of ourselves and the communities served. It should be just and reach far beyond what is sold or the level of service offered. It must be the foundation of who we are as well as the force behind the drive to execute on it.” Angela Neal, President & CEO, Just The Heart, LLC


AI is on the rise, but not without a human touch 

“Artificial intelligence is here to stay and will become even more powerful in 2021. But wise marketers will balance the benefits of AI with real human interaction to ensure customers continue to connect with brands in a meaningful way.” – Patty Arellano-Tolotta, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Dallas College

“I see enabling technologies as AI will significantly help ABM. Whether built in-house or forging partnership, AI needs to be integrated at every layer of our touch with the target account to be successful. But the value must exist alongside good old-fashioned human knowledge, experience, and intuition. No amount of technological ingenuity can replace that. Human-centric society is whom we deal with and will continue to do so — being empathetic is important!” – Anamika Gupta, Director, Head of Customer Marketing, Fujitsu Americas

“As AI continues to infiltrate many industries, it will spill over into content. Tools such as Contentyze are helping marketers who don’t have the time to write push out content quickly. The one challenge with this is the changing algorithms within SEO. Some trends never change and SEO is one of them. With Google issuing algorithm updates several times in 2020, it is likely that AI can cause the content world to be crowded but SEO will still be one of the key determining factors when it comes to ranking.” Danni White, Director of Content Strategy and Development, Bython


Sharper data-driven digital strategies put a bullseye on moving targets

“Grouping target audiences the way we do today will not satisfy the unique needs of the individuals within these groups in the future – a result of increased mobility and the new remote work environment. For B2B and B2C marketers alike, buyer behavior is changing and each buyer is growing more unique and independent in their decisions, making intent and behavior data, programmatic media, and digital retargeting critical tools in our 2021 marketing tool bag.” – Ryan O’Neil, Head of Global Paid Media & Nurture Marketing, Citrix

“For 2021, the focus area for me will be optimizing my data-driven targeting strategy. There are so many great tools available, whether it be intent, technographics, or website traffic deanonymization. The difficulty is how to make them work together in chorus. Once that is accomplished, you can reach the right prospects, with the right ad or content, at the right time.” – Jonathan Rosenfeld, Senior Demand Generation Manager, Twilio Inc.

“What COVID has brought to light is the acceleration for businesses to invest in digital marketing. However, in order to ensure that business leaders are maximizing their ROI on digital ad spend, marketing data analytics is now more critical than ever. It transcends simple data analysis on marketing campaigns to gleaning the data insights required to help shape and drive future digital marketing strategies for years to come.” – Trinidad Aguirre, MBA, Founder, TEAM Marketing LLC 


“Experience” takes on new meaning & dimensions

“Marketers will experience companies shifting much focus on growing their 20% of key strategic existing accounts bringing 80% of their business and supporting large opportunities. ABM is here to stay and, if done right, will continue to help the business get a seat at the table as a top-tier player by becoming more relevant and customer-led in the journey of building trust. Delivering a truly enhanced customer experience will be a continued priority for both sales and marketing. We must continue to strengthen this partnership with one common goal of client growth and success. – Anamika Gupta, Director, Head of Customer Marketing, Fujitsu Americas

“Like many nonprofits we raise funds and build relationships through events and meetings. While many nonprofits have pivoted to virtual events in 2020, there has definitely been a loss of human connection. In a post-pandemic world it will be more important than ever to re-establish those in-person connections and we will be looking for new ways to increase experiences with our work, whether safely in-person, virtually or a hybrid of both.” – Sarah Burns, Chief Marketing Officer, Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center

“As we emerge from the COVID winter we will begin to see a renewed push toward the creation of rich, intimate brand experiences that connect brand users and communities in the physical world. The brands that are able to create shared authentic, meaningful experiences that satiate the consumer’s thirst for real physical community will strengthen existing relationships and bring new users to the brand.” – Warren White, SVP, Chief Marketing Officer, Adeptus Health

“The pandemic has forced many companies to accelerate their digital transformation to not only improve internal processes and communications with employees, but also to market and sell their products and services online. To provide a good user experience along the path-to-purchase customer journey, investment in user experience (UX) research will be required. Insights and results from UX research will not only be applied to make product development really customer-centric, but also to enhance the user experience before, during and after the moment of purchase for different customer segments.” – Michaela Mora, President, Relevant Insights, LLC


Content consumers raise the stakes for brands swimming in a sea of sameness

“The pandemic has clearly shaken up the marketing mix and put greater emphasis on content as a route to driving leads lost on the physical events front — particularly for B2B companies. As a result, everyone’s been rushing to create, which in turn has flooded the marketplace and left readers fatigued. To stand out in 2021, brands will need to find fresh ways to demand attention with snackable, high-impact content. Personalized and emotional storytelling will remain critical while experimentation with more immersive video (captured in COVID-friendly ways), gamified virtual presentations, interactive VR/AR applications, community-generated and AI voice search-optimized content will rise to the top.” – Melissa Chadwick, Vice President of Content, Merritt Group

“How users interact with content is equally as important as what the content is and who it is targeting. Whether it is interactive content such as polls and assessments or redesigning a page or platform with better UX, marketers will look to create a better content experience for their users and audience. Driving ROI whether it is monetization or lead generation means users have to stay on sites more and be engaged enough to go through a sales funnel.” Danni White, Director of Content Strategy and Development, Bython


Modern web development requires accessible technologies

“The era of installed open source applications like WordPress is eclipsing, as modern web development makes its way to the front of the line with decoupled services. These would include headless CMS (meaning theme agnostic), and serverless web applications that run using microservices. What makes one experience better than another is how fast, secure, and dev friendly the solutions are for companies that want to optimize their web presence. Ultimately, the goal is to rid themselves of costly third party services including server technology and antiquated IT infrastructures.” – Nick Bonanno, Cofounder and Owner of Simple Media LLC


Marketers tap third parties to help build credibility & trust

“Marketers (especially in B2B) will have to find ways to shorten their sales cycles and increase focus on quality lead generation. With physical movement still fairly restricted in 2021 plus “Zoom overwhelm,” they will have to get creative. To accomplish this, marketers will need to focus on earned media more than ever before to increase credibility and close sales. As that happens, they will start to look at B2B influencer marketing, as well as branded storytelling (digital PR) as key gateways to connecting with their audience via already established and trusted sources.”- Stephanie Chavez, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Zen Media

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