Seismic Shift Marketing: What You Need To Do Now

Will your marketing continue to break through the seismic shift and get found by your target audience?

Probably not!

Because the seismic shift in marketing has changed the global environmental massively across business, political and social factors. 

In the process, your audience including your customers, employees and others have adopted to these dynamics and realities.

As a result, your business faces a different and, possibly, new challenges.

The seismic shift in marketing consists of the global changes that have taken place from 2016 through 2021 causing a technology-driven change due to:

  • Content saturation,
  • Marketing AI acceleration, and
  • Voice-first reaching its early majority.

To help you success, we’ll define seismic marketing shift and the trends  behind it with charts and analysis. Also, we’ll examine how your broader audience has changed and what this means for your business.

So what can you do as a marketer?
Pivot so your strategy and plans acknowledge and address this major disruption.

The good news:
You probably already have the basics you need.

But, instead of following the same approach that you’ve used over and over:
Modify your marketing mix and adjust your budget allocation.

Let’s see how you can accomplish this to yield profitable results despite the seismic marketing shift.


What Is the Seismic Shift in Marketing?
The Definition You Need

The Seismic Shift in Marketing is defined by the massive global changes between 2016 and 2021.

What makes these years stand out?

  • 2016 was defined by the UK vote for Brexit and the US Presidential Election. These elections had global implications for business and sowed the early seeds for fake news.
  • During 2020 and 2021, people around the world dealt with the deadly coronavirus that disrupted both people and businesses. Further, the 2020 US Presidential Election and Black Lives Matter (aka: #BLM) caused people to take to  the streets.


The 3 main business elements are:

1. Content Saturation

Content saturation increases due to  a severe decline in the ability for content to break through along with a flight to quality.

Content Distribution Fails via social media shares

2018 Content Marketing Social Media Shares chart by BuzzSumo.

According to PwC, here’s how your audience consumes different forms of digital content and entertainment.

Seismic Marketing Shift Questions to Ask:

  • How can your message break through to attract attention & build an audience?
  • Has your paid promotion to support your content & communications distribution increased?
  • Have you pivoted to a more defensible niche?

Facing content overload and reduced trust, marketers have difficulty attracting attention for their content and promotions. Of further marketing concern, this content saturation applies across devices, platforms and content formats.

  • Paid social yields have dropped to 0.015% median engagement compared with 0.026% for organic (or unpaid) posts based on analysis of one month of 2019 Facebook data by Trust Insight’s Chris Penn.Translation: Your paid Facebook marketing is largely wasted! Additionally, Penn’s 2019 Social Media Analysis based on Talkwalker data revealed that YouTube, the second biggest search engine after Google, had the biggest increase in net volume.

  • 70% of people use voice search and receive only one unbranded answer. Further, 30% of these responses never yield a URL.
  • 50% of Google searches are no-click. This means that, even if your content appears in the answer box, the person never leaves Google.

    In addition, 14% of these searches direct people to other Google entities according to Rand Fishkin of Sparktoro.

Actionable Seismic Shift Marketing Tips:

  • Develop your content marketing and owned media to attract voice and mobile search.
  • Use paid social media and other promotions to better understand how to segment your audience based on data. But send visitors to owned media with connected content as soon as possible. Further, use welcome emails to continue to warm your new audience.
  • Take advantage of social media profiles to create entrance ways to your owned media. For example, I added a link to encourage visitors to subscribe to my AMG Newsletter to my Twitter Profile.


2. Accelerated adoption of digital transformation and Marketing AI

The speed of digital transformation increased as people and businesses adapted to the changes required by the coronavirus.  As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, We’ve seen 2 years worth of digital transformation in 2 months.

Seismic Marketing Shift Questions to Ask:

  • Do your legacy systems talk to each other?
  • How do you create quality data across all departments in your organization?
  • Does your content strategy support any changes Marketing AI may require?


3. Voice-first entered into the early majority for smartphones

As background, Apple introduced Siri for its iPhone in 2011, about a decade ago and it continues to evolve. When Amazon introduced its Alexa Voice Assistant in 2014 and Google followed with its Google Assistant in 2016, it established the viability of voice assistants.

So why should you add voice to your marketing mix now?


  • Humanize and differentiate your brand.
  • Expand your market by becoming more inclusive and available where people need voice functionality.
  • Improve product and customer experience (CX).

Seismic Marketing Shift Questions to Ask:

  • Does your content strategy support addition of voice and audio options?
  • Do your brand guidelines extend to voice & audio?
  • Do you have existing voice &/or audio content?

Actionable Seismic Shift Marketing Tips:

  • Deliver information to when, where and how your audience needs it based on context. Respond to visitors’, prospects’ and customers’ “micro-moments”.
  • Offer voice-first and mobile content to answer full questions and “Near Me” searches.


What Impact is the Seismic Shift in Marketing having on Customer Behavior?

Especially during 2020 and 2021, customers changed in 3 distinct ways as a result of  the Seismic Shift in Marketing.

1. Seismic Shift in Marketing Customer Change: Digital divide disappeared in terms of age

According to SwissRe: Digital adoption is no longer age-related but has become mainstream across generations.”

Expected permenanceof Habit changes from covid-19

Actionable Seismic Shift Marketing Questions To Ask:

  • How do you break through new customer strongholds
  • How deliver multiple options cost-effectively?
  • Will current shopping habits remain same or change again?


2. Seismic Shift in Marketing Customer Change: Lives and Lifestyles Change

The major customer changes revolved around 3 core challenges:

  • Job loss and income changes,
  • Work-from-home (WFH), and
  • Lack of support for children and seniors.

As a result, most people have moved down at least one level on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

The research proves onsumers are very focused on their most basic needs at present

Actionable Seismic Shift Marketing Questions To Ask:

  • How has your customer base changed?
  • Have your employees changed?
  • What additional or new expenses do you need to maintain your audience?


3. Seismic Shift in Marketing Customer Change: Trust Hits All Time Low

With increased information overload and deterioration of trust in media, building your brand has become more important.

In the process, your business must make up the gap in terms of services and support no longer provided by government and other societal leaders. In turn, this has a direct impact on your brand.Societal leaders not trusted to do what is right

Seismic Shift Marketing Case Study: Toast App

In early 2020, Toast App pivoted at the beginning of COVID to support its clients, restaurants. They transformed their technology to support the switch to takeout orders and delivery from eat in options.

Seismic Shift Marketing Case Study

How Do You Succeed the Seismic Shift in Marketing?

Follow these 3 steps to ensure that your marketing yields profitable results post-seismic shift.

1. Audit content on a regular basis

To keep your existing content up-to-date, audit it on a consistent basis such as annually, quarterly or other regular cadence.

Ensure that it’s:

  • Consistency, publishing at least weekly on a set day and time,
  • Structure to be visible cross devices (aka: hub and spoke approach,)
  • Longevity to continue to fund and fuel on-going activity.

According to Chris Penn of Trust Insights,

“If you have a choice on how to spend your budget, spend at least 51% of it on things that are yours. (And remember at least 10% of it should go to measurement). Deliver insanely great value on your owned media channels to make them places people want to spend time.”

Actionable Marketing Tips:

  • Allocate budget for updates and paid distribution to attract attention for renovated content marketing.
  • Use library structure to organize your content.
  • Add content metadata for voice and audio content. Where necessary hire librarians to add metadata to older content to ensure that it’s findable and up-to-date.


2. Extend reach of text content with non-text formats and of audio or voice content with text formats.

For example the a16z selectively transcribed podcasts from their podcast network into text to increase the reach and get another opportunity to promote the most popular episodes to their subscribers.

If you have popular text-based content, use this approach to test whether your audience wants to consume audio and voice content.

Actionable Marketing Tips:

  • Continue to transform content into other formats to keep it visible to your audience. New formats allow you to text which ones are popular with your audience.
  • Repromote the original content format at the same time to keep it visible.


3. Integrate your brand into every element of your marketing

While many marketers overlook the full value of branding due to the difficulty of measuring its true value, use a combination of branding and sales engagement to yield profitable revenues over time. Further, consistent use of branding is the cheapest marketing.

Marketing Works in Two Ways

Actionable Marketing Tips:

  • Increase content renovation to cost-effectively offer a balanced mix of content. This includes updating and transforming content to other formats and continued distribution over time.
  • Find internal efficiencies. Marketing can also help other departments create content, information and data that meets their needs! Among the biggest areas ripe for this support are product user manuals,  on-boarding new customers and information for legacy products.


Seismic Shift Marketing Conclusion

As Seismic Shift Marketing becomes more apparent, it’ll become more and more difficult for your marketing content, information, data and promotions to attract attention.

Beyond making the case to your boss regarding this massive disruption, prepare your marketing to remain visible and viable over time.

The good news:
Continue to build on your best existing content marketing assets to keep them up-to-date, transformable to other content formats, and continually promoted.

While success requires investment and work, you can start to build your post-seismic marketing shift platform now.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on December 4, 2019. It has been significantly updated and expanded based on changes in the environment and customer behavior.

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and Google+.


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