Three Trends From Creative Services IndustriesAt the end of each year, we take an in-depth look at creative services industries (marketing, advertising, technology, etc.) to spot trends and make predictions about how the coming year will unfold.

In the past, we’ve uncovered insights regarding the emergence of new advertising targets and the shrinking gender pay disparity in the voiceover market.

Those shifts were momentous and promising, and this year we’ve discovered more trends that will affect the landscape moving forward.

In our 2021 Trends Report, which is based on a survey of more than 1,000 of our clients, we discovered several top creative services industry trends: the remote work revolution, the increased demand for digital training content, and the shift to audio-visual advertising.

This article will break down these trends and explain how you can capitalize on each one.

Shifting Workforce Decisions

It’s no surprise that many companies’ teams are telecommuting; 28% of survey respondents said they reduced their office spaces.

However, you might not have guessed that companies are working with more freelancers.

Our survey revealed that 43% of respondents are hiring more independent workers, and we experienced a 40% increase compared with the previous year in voice acting jobs for freelancers on our website.

The types of freelancers companies seek include actors, editors, graphic designers, programmers, marketers, and writers.

Given changes to the business landscape, we predict that more companies will outsource projects to these roles.

If you have pressing needs beyond the wheelhouse of your full-time employees—or not high enough in volume to warrant a full-time hire—you might also consider hiring freelancers.

No matter who you rely on for work, it’s important to recognize that telecommuting is here to stay.

You don’t have to go permanently remote such as Twitter, Square, and Zillow, but you should offer flexible arrangements that appeal to employees.

About 98% of workers said they’d like to work remotely at least part-time moving forward, according to Buffer.

Organizations that fail to adapt their workforce models will struggle to fill empty positions.

Adapting Training and Development Materials

Based on our data, we haven’t yet seen a significant increase in eLearning voiceover jobs.

This could mean that companies are buying eLearning licenses for their employees, but it could also mean that companies have not prioritized updating corporate learning and development programs.

Organizations may have chosen to focus on customer communication and business continuity over upskilling and training employees.

Unfortunately, this might have been a major setback for workers who needed additional support.

We predict that eLearning and training will continue to be a major focus.

The survey results support this: about 33% of respondents said the demand for online training was the most important trend affecting their company or industry.

To meet this demand and adapt to the new reality of work, you will need to reevaluate and update your training and onboarding materials.

More than 40% of companies have increased efforts to upskill and reskill employees, according to TalentLMS.

To keep pace, you might also want to consider prioritizing online employee development.

Platforms with high-quality content such as LinkedIn Learning, Teachable, Udemy, and Khan Academy will all serve as valuable resources. 

Virtual mentoring programs and developed remote cultures can also help create a more skilled and agile workforce.

Creating Digital Marketing Content

Consumer behavior has changed drastically: about 96% of Americans are shopping more online, 45% of Baby Boomers have increased their digital spending, and 40% of internet users are now ordering their groceries virtually.

This probably isn’t surprising to you because you’ve been part of this shift.

Because advertising agencies and marketers are tasked with reaching audiences who are living, working, and playing at home, there’s been an increase in the creation (and consumption) of internet videos.

We saw a 199% year-over-year increase in internet video job postings on our website.

Most people have more time to watch videos since they’re no longer commuting or traveling.

In 2020, HubSpot called video “the most commonly used format in content marketing.”

But will these changes stick?

According to our trends report, yes.

More than 70% of respondents believe their marketing strategy adjustments will be permanent.

That’s why we anticipate all kinds of digital content projects to increase in 2021—including video, animation, and audio.

What Does It Mean for Creative Services?

We’ve identified three top business trends for 2021, but knowing these trends exist and capitalizing on them are two different matters.

To ensure 2021 contains fewer surprises than 2020, we recommend you implement the following steps:

  1. Prepare to work with freelancers. Even if you aren’t currently hiring freelancers, you should prepare for a future where you will. Freelancers not only augment the expertise of your staff, but they can also fill in for employees who need to take an extended leave of absence. Even if you have enough full-time employees, freelancers can temporarily shoulder some of the workload during busy periods. Capitalize on the benefits of freelance work and create a program to help them acclimate to your company. Many organizations treat freelancer onboarding as an afterthought, but that can hinder productivity and performance. You’d likely be surprised by how quickly the quality of freelance work would improve if your company started providing comprehensive training and clear instructions, such as a guide titled “Freelancing for Our Company.”
  2. Update your training materials for remote work. The year 2020 accelerated digital transformation and the shift to remote work in many industries, creating a need for virtual training materials. If your workforce is telecommuting, you’ll need to adjust your onboarding program for new hires who might never step foot in an office. This could include replacing in-person activities with instructional videos and meet-and-greet lunches with virtual coffee dates. Just remember that the quality of your training materials needs to be similar to what’s on YouTube and other websites with instructional videos. People are used to learning at their own pace, but they prefer content that’s engaging as well as instructional. As you rework your program, keep these new expectations in mind.
  3. Prepare for audio advertising. Voice-activated technology is on the rise. In 2018, PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 65% of 25- to 49-year-olds used voice-activated devices at least once per day. Now, big names such as Amazon, Google, and Apple are competing to create the best voice-activated device. Considering 69% of our survey respondents are prioritizing new customer growth in marketing, it’s quickly becoming critical to engage this audience by creating voice ads. To produce effective audio advertising, you’ll need to establish a sonic brand. You don’t need to spend $15 million on it like Mastercard, but you should ensure a consistent and memorable audio experience. Plan to work with a voiceover professional who fits your brand image, updating all sounds and music to match that tone. You don’t want to ruin your sonic brand with cheesy on-hold music.

The year 2020 was a stark reminder that it’s impossible to tell what the future will hold.

However, you can learn from past events.

We hope you can use these top business trends for 2021 to help your organization stay a few steps ahead.

David Ciccarelli

David Ciccarelli is the founder and CEO of Voices, the No. 1 creative services marketplace with over 2 million registered users. David is responsible for setting the vision, executing the growth strategy, creating a vibrant culture, and managing the company on a day-to-day basis. He is frequently published in outlets such as The Globe and Mail, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal.

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