If there is any question as to whether digital marketing is important in 2021, the answer seems evidenced by the fact that global digital marketing spend is expected to reach $389.29 billion this year. That also means that standing out can feel like an uphill battle. Luckily, if you’re a marketer in Tampa Bay, that means you’re a part of a thriving, energetic, creative community unlike any other.

One indication of Tampa’s dynamic marketing industry is its active AMA chapter. AMA Tampa Bay was awarded the Community Excellence Award for 2019-2020, and has continued to thrive during an otherwise tumultuous year via virtual events and community outreach. Tampa Bay is also a region that has blossomed with business over the last decade, touting hubs like the Westshore District that feature giants from the tech, real estate, hospitality, and commercial retail industries.

With such an active marketing scene, Tampa boasts experts in the field with specific visions for the future of advertising. Let’s take a closer look at some of the top agencies, and what they anticipate will take over marketing in 2021.

Pirate Marketing

Dana Gordon launched Pirate Marketing in 2018 after spending 20 years building a career at both boutique ad agencies and Fortune 200 organizations. Her team of content writers, SEO specialists, web developers, and graphic designers are passionate about small business marketing. Here’s what Dana sees for the future of marketing.

How has marketing changed over the past year due to the pandemic?

The companies that didn’t fully embrace a digital presence have suffered. Small businesses, more than ever, have realized that e-commerce and digital marketing are an absolute necessity for both a growth and client retention strategy.

What is your favorite thing about being headquartered in Tampa Bay?

The diversity of Tampa Bay is incredible. Not only from a demographic standpoint (which is amazing!), but also from an industry standpoint. We have a robust economy that isn’t based on tourism alone. The fact that we have multiple established and growing industries (like healthcare, technology, education, military, etc.) will set us up for continuous growth in the future.

What is the biggest challenge about marketing in Tampa Bay?

Due to the uncertainty of the market over the past year, small business owners seem to be much more hesitant to assign a dedicated budget to marketing. Even though they understand it’s a necessity, it’s still seen as an “unknown” that is difficult to justify. As a marketing agency leader, it’s a constant process to educate and inform them of their options and pros/cons.

What are the upcoming trends or platforms that you think companies will start to allocate budget dollars towards in the next year?

I’m expecting that more organizations are going to understand the value of a powerful customer strategy. The days of having a great product but poor customer experience are done — consumers expect more. And if they don’t receive it, they’re going to look to the competition.

What marketing trends do you anticipate in the next 12 months?

The need for people to see others face-to-face, and the ability to go out and do things, will be a priority for many. Businesses who are willing to embrace a more experiential strategy will prosper.  

What skills, degrees or certifications do you find most valuable for your career in marketing? 

Degrees and certifications are great, of course. But I’ve found that the softer skills like effective communication, attention-to-detail, servant leadership, and relationship building will always outweigh them. I’ve been a hiring manager for over 15 years — and I’ve learned that a high school graduate with a fantastic attitude and willingness to learn will outperform an MBA student with a lack of people skills.

KDR Communications

When Kelly Douglas founded KDR Communications, she brought years of experience with her serving clients in higher education, the U.S. military, and high-profile non-profits. Her expertise as a communication strategist allows her to offer executive-level strategy in a flexible way to her clients. Here’s how she sees the marketing world changing.

How has marketing changed over the past year due to the pandemic?

There has been an even greater demand for companies to be more transparent in attracting and communicating with their customers. Companies who quickly shifted their business practices to accommodate customer needs during the pandemic and clearly communicated those adjustments are the ones that continued to see growth and success. Also, companies that put needs over profit will continue to be rewarded with a loyal customer following.

What is your favorite thing about being headquartered in Tampa Bay?

My favorite thing about Tampa Bay is that almost every industry has representation here, allowing a small business like mine to diversify its customer base. If you are a good marketer, then you can apply those principles and be successful in any industry. I also believe that having clients across different sectors provides greater exposure for best practices that can be shared.   

What is the biggest challenge about marketing in Tampa Bay?

The biggest challenge about marketing in Tampa Bay is opportunity. I know that sounds backward but prioritizing your marketing efforts for the greatest impact is critical.

What are the upcoming trends or platforms that you think companies will start to allocate budget dollars towards in the next year?

Now more than ever, companies need professional communicators to help them navigate the demands of their audiences like transparency on diversity and inclusion within their organizations, social justice causes, crisis management, etc.

What marketing trends do you anticipate in the next 12 months?

I believe marketing will trend more toward being customer centric. With an average attention span of 8 seconds, customers need a memorable experience when purchasing an item or service. 

What skills, degrees or certifications do you find most valuable for your career in marketing? 

I believe a degree or certification can open a door for you, but the experience is what gets you the job. If there is a particular skill you want to learn or freshen up, but your current job or situation doesn’t allow for it, then volunteer for a non-profit using that skill. It not only provides a good learning environment but also helps support a charitable organization.

As for a valuable skill that has helped me throughout my career, I would have to say relationship building. My mother once told me “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Building authentic relationships where all parties feel valued can strengthen the satisfaction you have in your career. Joining an organization like the Westshore Alliance can catapult the size of your network because they do an excellent job in encouraging member relationships.    

Trickey Jennus

People-first marketing is agency Trickey Jennus’ modus operandi, and President/Chief Creative Officer Tom Jennus has lived by that motto since his company’s founding in 2004. Here are his insights into 2021’s marketing trends.

How has marketing changed over the past year due to the pandemic?

Pandemic or not, digital marketing continues to rise, outpacing and in some cases displacing some conventional forms of media. The complexity of placing digital messaging and having the right digital strategy takes a highly skilled and nimble team. What hasn’t changed, especially for Trickey Jennus, is no matter what medium is used — maintaining the same brand messaging across all platforms is key. Creatively, we have to find ways to engage the target audience across multiple platforms.

What are the upcoming trends or platforms that you think companies will start to allocate budget dollars towards in the next year?

More companies will shift their focus to marketing automation and CRM services to enhance their audience and customer tracking abilities. This is a trend we’re already seeing. We also expect to see an increased focus on search, display, video and podcasting, as well as on the growing number of social platforms.

What is your favorite thing about being headquartered in Tampa Bay?

Though we try to stay clear of clichés, it’s hard to get around this one: Location! Location! Location! Easy access to our growing client base on both sides of the bay, great office space, restaurants and of course, we’re just minutes from the airport. Locations don’t get any better.

Power On Marketing

With services in SEO, Website Design and Development, SEM/PPC, Social Media Advertising, Content Marketing and Creative Design, Power On Marketing lives at the forefront of the digital marketing realm. Vice President Malia Powers has seen firsthand which trends are making headway in 2021, and shared them with us.

How has marketing changed over the past year due to the pandemic?

Over the past year, marketing has shifted into a predominately online space. It is much more competitive. Marketing has changed to align around e-commerce and internet-based sales activities and marketing teams have to adapt to the fast-paced changes within each industry segment as there have been drastic shifts: retail to online retail, massive shifts away from in-person dining to delivery services in the food industry, and major shifts in the mindset of the buyer which affects their behavior. The consumer is more focused on the quality of their home life and everything associated with it, over the outside influences they would typically engage in such as sports and other hobbies.

What is your favorite thing about being headquartered in Tampa Bay?

Tampa has grown tremendously over the past few years and it is only getting bigger. This expands our business potential tenfold. The Westshore District provides a great opportunity to network and expand our reach. Westshore is our ideal headquarters because of its close proximity between transportation hubs, and it is a central location for both sides of the bridge from an economic development perspective. It provides the amenities and resources we need to attract the right talent and engage our community.

What is the biggest challenge about marketing in Tampa Bay?

I actually find it difficult to come up with a challenge because Tampa is such a strong and thriving economic development area. The growth and development of new businesses and the movement of business headquarters, like Power On, provides new growth and opportunity. The challenge is finding the specific talent and skillset despite our surrounding school’s effort to attract students with high-level courses that cultivate the right talent for each specific role. While Tampa is filled with talent, there is just not enough to keep up!

What are the upcoming trends or platforms that you think companies will start to allocate budget dollars towards in the next year?

Automation tools are becoming more and more prevalent to business owners as they learn how much a platform like Sharp Spring or Salesforce can do for them. One of the greatest tools for getting the right type of automation, which aids in creating the ultimate customer experience, is artificial intelligence. Well-configured artificial intelligence will generate and automate processes that allow you to accomplish what you otherwise could not based on time and budget constraints. 

Increased remote work has also created the need for a more streamlined process, for almost all aspects of a business! On top of automation services, those working remotely right now need increased company security. More secure networks with cloud-based technology are going to take over. This allows anyone with access to view whatever they need, whenever and wherever. Convenience is king; anything that eliminates unnecessary time spent is more likely to be of use in the coming year.

What marketing trends do you anticipate in the next 12 months?

Social media marketing is going to heavily influence business owners and sales efforts in 2021. As the world transitions into more of a mobile and remote space, businesses will see e-commerce play a huge role. This works in two ways. There are customers who prefer in-store shopping, yet they still do research on trends and popular items on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. On the other hand, shopping for products directly on Instagram and Facebook has already increased and will continue to spike. E-commerce grew 44% in 2020, and I think it will play a big role moving forward. Successful brands will combine user experience and brand recognition to accelerate business growth and take over their market. Following trends like TikTok will help push brands into the spotlight.

What skills, degrees or certifications do you find most valuable for your career in marketing? 

The biggest skill that helps in marketing is the ability to relate to and understand our customers and their respective target audiences in a very personal and meaningful way. There are a lot of certifications that teach tactical and maybe even strategic skills but understanding what makes business thrive is something that cannot be taught.

As our experts have indicated, digital marketing is growing rapidly, and Tampa Bay is a burgeoning hub for this explosive growth. The marketing community has increased in agility, flexibility, and relationship-based partnerships. By bringing customer-centric marketing approaches to your clients, gaining real-world experience, and identifying your best-fit clients in a diverse market, you can rise to the top.

Leave a Comment