As the year settles into full swing, I decided it would be useful and informative to put together a top ten list of marketing trends to keep an eye on.
Combined, these trends should make for huge marketing advantages for our companies, and a chance to grow ourselves, as marketers.
1. Omni-channel advantage
This past year we saw huge developments in mobile analytics and mobile marketing, which combine in 2014, enabling us to take advantage of omni-channel marketing.
This year, entrepreneurs and marketers need to go beyond just responsive web design and creating supplementary mobile apps to ask ourselves: How are our companies meeting the mobile challenge?
We need to be cross-device compatible and raise the bar on mobile customer experience.
- Are you taking advantage of the feedback opportunities?
- Are you capturing the data and leveraging it for personalisation?
This year it’s all about the omni-channel marketing advantage.
2. Smart objects take over
By now, you’ve probably heard about the Internet of Things but are you participating as a consumer or a marketer? As business managers, we should keep an eye on how these smart objects change the consumer’s expectations around user experience and engagement.
As new gadgets and technologies emerge this year, there will be new ways to leverage these smart objects in our marketing campaigns and more effectively reach our audiences.
3. Content marketing continues to explode
We spent the last year getting our company onboard with inbound marketing and content creation as the way to grow our businesses. From that we saw new tools built, new communities created and new resources emerge to help us make our case.
This next year will bring the solidification of this new arena through things like better content analytics and measurement, new job titles such as chief content officer, while new forms of content will grow in popularity.
I, for one, am most excited to see content marketing bring beautiful, original, inspiring stories to the masses.
4. Paid organic social amplification
This sounds like jargon, I know. But, finally, paid and organic marketing meet, fall in love, and have the most beautiful little baby: Paid organic social amplification.
This year, marketers will turn their efforts and budgets toward paid marketing on social platforms. Twitter advertising, Facebook advertising, LinkedIn advertising are prime with readership and opportunity for us to meet our next customers.
Newer platforms such as Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram will continue to open new ways for us to amplify our content in less intrusive ways to meet customer needs.
It’s like peanut butter and jam. It just works. If you aren’t testing this yet, jump in there.
5. Influencer marketing is now part of your job
Rarely do I see a new channel sweep in, go mainstream, and become part of every marketer’s job. I would say these past few years we’ve seen the rise of social media, and then the mainstream adoption of it and now from that we are left with a huge opportunity to leverage influencer marketing.
This year will bring teams dedicated to social outreach, outlandish influencer campaigns and – dare I say it – a turn toward offline. (Gasp!)
Marketers are now returning back to ‘thank you’ gifts, hand written notes and tangibles to catch an influencer’s eye and build a relationship. We will see more of that in the coming year.
6. Visual web domination continues
Beautiful design continues to flourish. Today’s consumer expects delightful and stunning experiences. Marketers need to raise the bar on their site experiences, product packaging, branding and user experience. No longer will functional design get a passing grade, now we must be functional, innovative and memorable.
How can you message your story visually? We must jump on to photo and video marketing and embrace the power it has to persuade and impress our communities. Design thinking is no longer optional – it’s a market advantage.
7. Loyalty marketing takes centre stage
In one calendar year we’ve seen the biggest brands in the world announce their key focus is customer loyalty, we’ve seen loyalty teams pop up and marketers have scrambled to understand customer loyalty.
We’ve seen a new type of loyalty arise, called reciprocal loyalty, in which not only are customers loyal to a brand through advocacy and brand support, but the brand is also investing back into the customer through rewards, personalised experiences and service.
In 2014 we will see this trend take centre stage. Have you made a genuine investment in the customers that keep you in business?
8. Big data personalisation
In three short years big data took over. Now that we understand its importance and have tools like Tableau available to us to democratise big data, marketers will begin leveraging these insights for hyper-targeting and personalisation.
Things like cohort marketing (the ability to break your audience into like-minded segments), behavioural targeting (targeting based on customer actions) and sequencing (the ordering of campaigns to have the biggest impact) will be critical to your marketing campaign success.
No more spray and pray marketing – big data has brought us the insights we needed to reach the right person at the right time with the right message. Marketing euphoria, unlocked.
9. Snippet storytelling
This year marketers will be challenged to take image and video marketing and tell beautiful stories in snippet form. Concise messaging, consistent branding and emotional content will be laced in everything we do. We will be expected to share a story faster and make that story digestible in emotion-provoking ways.
The copywriters, brand leads, and video ninja on your team will become your best friends. What will come of it? A flood of brilliant stories told in new mediums.
10. Rise of growth teams focused on innovation
This is the trend I’m looking forward to most. The biggest brands have growth teams and the rest of us are following suit. These teams are dedicated to innovation, rethinking protocol and growing new areas of the business.
They are cross-departmental and given the resources to make a huge impact in a short amount of time. Marketers will be the nucleus of these teams, if not the leaders, given our performance-driven and creative experiences. Companies will continue to break the traditional marketing team structure and empower growth marketers to think big and, ultimately, win big.
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Ask These 3 Questions To Determine Where To Spend Your Marketing Budget
Stretching your marketing budget is imperative, especially when there aren’t that many marketing rands to stretch.
As you grow your business, it’s important to be creative and efficient with your money. When it comes to marketing, there are a number of cost-effective ways to spend and save your money. So, if you’re worried about marketing on a limited budget, here’s some helpful info to know.
First, great marketing is about highlighting wants and needs and attaching them to desired outcomes. It’s possible to do that regardless of budget — and every company’s strategy will be different.
For example, when my consultancy worked with Dollar Shave Club to grow its platform beyond viral videos, we focused on establishing a unique voice, which led to creating an editorial component. When we worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger on his fitness and nutrition products, we focused on creating a core mission and understanding why he was involved in the product. And when we worked with Four Sigmatic to market its coffees and teas, we focused on customer acquisition and retention.
3 Questions that Cut Through the Clutter
Those projects all started with the same three questions: What is the value and purpose of your product or service? Who is your target audience? And what is the best platform on which to reach them? That’s where you’ll want to invest most of your attention before you determine where to spend your money. (Notice my word choice: Your planning is an investment; where you spend is a cost.)
1. In general, we prefer to use digital campaigns
It’s easier to track what works and what doesn’t. Plus, digital creates multiple opportunities to engage. Think of it this way: 10% of your audience will buy, 10% won’t and 80% will be on the fence. Would you rather have one shot to convince that 80%, or multiple? By retargeting through something like Facebook ads or Google, or even creating a distribution channel like an email list, you can communicate repeatedly.
2. If you don’t have an audience, spend money fishing in small ponds where you know you can get a bite, and then set yourself up to communicate repeatedly
(This is where creating content as a form of acquisition or building an email list can be incredibly valuable.) Depending on your product or service, this could mean a very targeted ad to a small audience on Facebook — rather than attempting to reach millions — or setting up a pop-up shop, or getting a spot at a local farmers’ market.
3. If you already have an audience, turn them into super-fans who will bring their peers into your universe
Identify previous buyers and give them direct access to you through focus groups or calls. Reward them for their time with product or a gift certificate. When you show your consumer that you care about and appreciate them, it not only increases the likelihood of repurchase but also helps them personally invest in the soul of the business. Not to mention, their insights will help you understand why they bought and how to replicate that process.
Whatever you do — and no matter how big or small your budget — keep finding better answers to the core marketing questions and your success won’t hinge on any one platform.
Gen Z Is Coming! Are You Ready?
How do you market your company to this generation?
According to the CNBC, about 61 000 Gen Zers are on the verge of entering the workforce and consumer market in the US alone.
They are digital natives; they have grown up in a world of vines, txts (yes, we know) and internet. Their attention span is shorter than ever, they are more connected than any other generation, and they are brilliant multitaskers. Gen Z is a more tolerant generation but also more cautious; studies have found less risk-taking amongst this group and an increase in thoughtfulness and questioning authority.
So, on the one side of this coin, how do you market your company to this generation?
1. By being transparent
Be upfront about your business, what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. They have lost faith in corporations. Thus, you must stop relying on and hiding behind small print. Yes, you need terms and conditions to protect your company, but when it looks like a miracle weight-loss advert of the 80s (“Eat anything you want just take this pill. Ts&Cs apply.”), you’ll lose customers.
Related: Investing in Young Entrepreneurs
Gen Z consumers want to see you are real; they don’t want models or celebrities but regular people who can assist them in a manner that speaks to them. And they will hold your business is socially accountable. Instead of producing millions of T-shirts at the cheapest possible price, they want local, equality and free-trade, and they want to know what businesses are doing for the environment and society.
Gen Z won’t accept your claims at your word; they want to see evidence in your company culture.
2. By offering options
A jewellery purchasing study has found that most Gen Zers don’t have a preferred shopping platform. What this means is your messaging, availability and culture need to be spread evenly across all contact points – sales, call centres, website and digital advertising. In fact, many Gen Z consumers rely on mixing their contact points.
That being said, they want immediate action. If they see something they want online, they will go to the shop just to have the item right now. More than immediacy, they also want custom-made or made-to-order products and services. They shy away from traditional made-to-stock methods, which creates plenty of room in the production industry.
3. By being forward thinking
We have to always remember what was mind-blowing inventions to other generations are the norm for Gen Zers. They hold brands and businesses to high expectations, and instead of being loyal to brands, expect brands to be loyal to them. As Gen Z is more focused on individuality, they are also proving to be a generation with a high entrepreneurial output. All this shows that they don’t want the norm; they don’t crave what’s new today, they want tomorrow, sustainability and innovation, and they want it now.
On the other side of the coin, how do you attract this generation to work at your company? In much the same way.
1. By being transparent
As much as you are hiring them based on what they bring to the table, so too are they looking at what you can afford them. But, they don’t just want to hear you tell them about the benefits, they want to see it – and they are not after just money. Gen Zers want to be financially secure, but also one that is fulfilling; one where they find purpose in their jobs and company.
2. By offering options
Gen Z employees don’t want to work eight to five, they don’t want to be chained to a desk, and they don’t want to be micro-managed. Give them flexibility on how they want to conduct their work and how they can communicate with their colleagues. Create an understanding workspace for their needs and help them improve their skills – for instance, it’s been reported that a stumbling block for Gen Zers is communication. Growing up with emojis and text messages make face-to-face conversations, business calls and writing emails difficult for them.
Gen Z employees want to work hard and grow their skills. Even though they’re growing up in a super-paced society, they want to climb the corporate ranks at the given speed. What they crave, with urgency, is gaining value from their jobs.
Related: The Z Generation
3. By being forward thinking
They are lateral thinkers, and their creativity is not just outside the box but has broken the box completely. Gen Z is incredibly tech-savvy, and they will challenge the systems and procedures you have in place if these are not providing the needed speed and data required. Thus, they crave to work in an environment where they can push boundaries and ultimately help the company move forward. Hiring from the Gen Z pool can provide you with innovative insights into your business that can grow it towards tomorrow’s giants.
The only way to be sure you are future-proofing your business is by guaranteeing it caters for future customers and employees, by relying on forward-thinking enterprise resource planning software, for instance. Epicor ERP software ensures that their clients stay agile and innovative through trusting top minds to build and develop intelligent systems that open doors for Gen Zers. It’s Epicor’s innate tech-savviness that allows them to visualise the landscape of tomorrow and develop the software to support it today.
Free Sample Marketing Plan Template
You don’t need an MBA to write a marketing plan for your business. While no two businesses are alike, all solid marketing plans need to provide specific information. Use this sample marketing plan template to get you started on the right foot and cover all the essential information.
Your marketing plan should provide a comprehensive blueprint of the business, its market and associated market activity, its position in the market, target and expected customers, offerings, competition, solutions and contingency plans.
Using a sample Marketing Plan Template can save you a lot of time in creating your own marketing plan.
Download a Sample Marketing Plan Template
Use the free templates below to help make sure you’ve covered all the important bits:
Recommended Marketing Reads:
- Smart Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses
- Mega Guide to Online Marketing
- Marketing Toolbox for the Entrepreneur
- The Ultimate Marketing Tool Library for Entrepreneurs
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