Even award-winning marketers armed with seven-figure budgets can't predict exactly how marketing will change in the future. The best any of us can do is to take calculated risks backed up with carefully crunched numbers. We also have to plan effectively but remain flexible to adapt to new trends, take cues from customers and respond appropriately.
Here are six tactics that have become indispensable to the marketer's toolkit:
1. Establish a presence on all platforms: In the past, it was sufficient to have a website only. But now the urgency is to have a presence on all platforms, since more people own a mobile device today than a toothbrush (shocking but true!). As potential customers use these devices more frequently for a greater range of tasks, more consumer-facing companies are gearing up to be present and make use of mobile. When customers look for your services on smart phones and tablets, if you do not have a mobile website then you're likely to turn away a large chunk of them without even knowing it.
2. Focus on content marketing: Online marketers have realized that you have to build valuable content for users rather than for search engines to get high rankings in search engine results. Content marketing is the new link-building technique and this requires a constant infusion of interesting content on your website that talks to individuals and communities. For example, you could have videos on troubleshooting products like the how-to videos on maintenance for Keurig coffee makers or use your blog to form a unique bond with your community of buyers the way Petco does by sharing tips and touching stories with pet lovers.
3. Develop multi-channel campaigns to increase response rates: One of the boards in my son's playschool classroom has a quote by Confucius, "I hear, I know. I see, I remember. I do, I understand." All our future marketing activities will build on these words of wisdom and our strategies will revolve around eliciting some kind of response from our target audience. As Fabrice Dekerf (managing director of Germaine Agency) sums it up, "All communication must serve one purpose in order to get the target group into some kind of action. Print advertising that doesn't have a clear action outcome is wasted money. Interaction between the message in print and online is for me a no-brainer: focus on the target group and give them via different channels the opportunity to interact. Print as an old fashioned way of doing image-campaigns may still be working to a certain degree (retail brands, luxury goods, older audience target) but only when you build in an interactive platform, you stay relevant to the customer." Lexus has definitely taken print advertising to a different level with the new print ad for the Lexus Es 2013. 4. Engage with social media: Social media usage is growing at an astonishing speed. If Facebook were a country, it would be the fourth largest country in the world. As users learn and adapt, they change their media habits and marketers have a hard time catching up. Conversations today are largely dominated by photos and videos. The new axiom for companies of all size is "engage or die". The following four rules are essential for social media success:
- Listen: Employ tools to monitor the activity
- Engage: Find ways to respond
- Measure: Define metrics and weigh performance
- Adapt: Optimize for the next phase
5. Use analytics to measure: It is crucial for you to understand the behaviors of your target audiences so you can position the brand and initiate campaigns to reach customers where they are most likely to look. Inputs from Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, QR code analytics and your own automated or manual tracking methods can help you understand which content is triggering the best responses and give direction to your marketing efforts. As discussed in my previous post, creativity backed with analytics is going to be the best approach for marketers in the coming years.
6. Tap into smart marketing tools: When you have a small team and each member is wearing multiple hats, marketing tools enable you to create the right amount of noise at the right time. You can automate your marketing efforts, listen to conversations, notice trends more easily and respond. On WordPress, you can express your thoughts and ideas online without having to know any computer programming. There are social media dashboards like HootSuite and Buffer that publish tweets and comments on your behalf. Tools like MarketMeSuite help you target leads and influencers, while engaging and promoting your brand on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
In a nutshell, these steps will be helpful when planning your marketing strategy:
- Detail specific activities
- Identify the audience to which each activity is targeted
- Share responsible for each activity within the team
- Plan the metrics of success
- Prepare to make adjustments as necessary
In the future, marketing will revolve around providing an experience. As we witness the convergence of interactive marketing techniques with interesting content deployed on different platforms, the idea is to increase your brand appeal through entertainment, rewards, and education to stand out from other players in the market.
What other marketing techniques do you plan to employ for 2013 and beyond?