It may be a bit later in January than most blog posts prognosticating about the coming year, but at least they are different from the pack, so here goes..
- Simple is the new complicated. All the conversations about social media, analytics, fragmentation of just about everything, we are bombarded with messages, options, and imperatives. Amid all this, marketing is at work, and the stuff that works is simple, cut through ideas. David Ogilvy had a bunch of “Olgivyisms”, one of which was , “big ideas are usually simple ideas”. This still holds true, it is just the big ideas have to cut through more fluff and interference than in Ogilvy’s day, and there is more confusing analytics and alternatives to be considered.
- Simplicity facilitated by new tools. Tools to leverage the capabilities of the web have been getting simpler by the month. It will reach the point where those with absolutely no computer kills at all can participate. WordPress has made building a web presence pretty easy, but now the new generation of similar tools like Weebly, take that a further step. The 40% of SME’s who have no web presence beyond a facebook page set up by their children, has passed, they no longer have an excuse.
- Reach and frequency is dead. This was the mantra of paid advertising for most of my long career, you paid for both in a matrix that focused on a demographic, “women 25-40 with children” or “working women earning over 50k” and so on. Before behavior based analytics with any more accuracy than a big U&A study, it was the best we could do, but it was pretty crap. Now with every man, his friends, and parents on facebook LinkedIn, Pinterest, et al, reach and frequency have a different sound. The enormous penetration of social media and the opportunity for behavioral analytics have changed the dynamics of advertising, and advertisers have raced to the new platforms, without recognising that the existence of the platform, free, and ubiquitous, has changed the rules entirely.
- Banner advertising on the web is also dead. Web banners simply do not work in the way a banner on the corner of your street did. They do not grab attention, and convey a message, they are simply in the way. Look no further than the huge drop in rates from a decade ago when they were touted to be the next advertising El Dorado. I am not surprised, simple supply and demand economics would indicate that when supply is infinite, the price at which demand can be met is close to zero. However, there is a caveat. The IPO of facebook in 2012, and Twitter in November 13, based on revenue projections that demand banner ads remain revenue generators is forcing some pretty smart people to consider how to make them sufficiently relevant to continue to attract revenue, and they may just crack the code.
- Values matter, more than ever. The temptation is to “pimp” your products and services at every opportunity. LinkedIn forums are full of new “discussions”, which are just pimping a product, very few get opened, they certainly rarely create an discussion, and are one step away from Spam. If you are gong to spend your resources, money, time, talent, on marketing, make it count, tell people “why”. Steve Jobs articulated this very well when launching the now famous “Think Different” ad to Apple employees.
- Content is serious business. Content is not just a word, it is a consumer of considerable marketing resources, and the capability of creative content creation to build a brand is evolving at a rapid rate. In the past, I have wondered at the capacity of the web as a brand building device, giving it top marks as a medium of delivery, but I could not think of a brand that had been built by the net. Now it seems, that Red Bull will get a guernsey. Their web presence is exceptional, huge resources are put into creating the positioning as extreme sports in all sorts of amazing ways. This best of 2013 post on Digiday has some great marketing, including Red Bull, and this terrific story of an old Nissan Maxima . The new year will see great strides in video brand building, the pace of creative change, and the socialization of the change, as demonstrated by the Maxima example, will continue to accelerate. In 2014, the “Social” component, promising businesses interacting with their markets for free, will be overtaken by the “media” part of the social media equations, as to be noticed bucks will have to be spent. There will be the off the wall hits, but the average cost of being seen will go up substantially. Content creation without any content marketing and compelling reason why a consumer should even look at it let alone give it any consideration will rapidly become almost useless. Your content is competing in a highly competitive and fragmented market for a share of consumers limited attention, and the old rules of marketing apply.
- “Environmental” research. This is not tree-hugging, it is my term for standing back and forming a view of the context in which your customers and markets live, what is changing that will alter their lives, and how can you leverage those changes by innovating in the manner in which you serve them. Now more than ever, this is a skill required, as there is simply so much data and information around, it is easier than ever to drown in the detail without understanding the context. For example, in my view, 3-D printing is an emerging disruption, not just to manufacturing but across industries that are in any way engaged with selling “things” rather than services. Forming some views on how this may impact on you, and your value chains, and taking steps to build the capabilities that will become necessary to survive and prosper is as important as breathing.
- Data accumulation and “personal leveraging” Word of mouth has always been the best marketing tool available, now the continuing development of social media platforms and marketing automation, the opportunity to be “personal” is increasing with every day that passes. In conjunction with this is the building of lists, contacts with whom you have the opportunity to build a relationship.
- Every person is a potential media channel. Just consider the capability to connect to facebook, LinkedIn, and the rest, and send information, ideas, links, referrals, to everyone in their networks. Media channels used to be a few radio, TV, newspaper and magazine channels, they were all one way, the “stuff” got pushed out and the opportunity to respond was limited to letters to the editor. No longer!
- Personal Kaizen. Kaizen is Japanese word for “continuous improvement” extensively used in lean literature. Lean is more than just an operational strategy, it is one for every facet of your life and business. Every time you do something, strive to do it better, by being smarter, than the time before. Being serious about personal kaizen makes you curious, interested, and interesting, qualities that attract opportunity.
- Craftsmanship. In a world of increasing homogeneity delivered by specification driven design and manufacturing, where differences are often just cosmetic and qualitative, genuine craftsmanship, bespoke design, and catering to the individuality of people is increasingly important. The extent to which craftsmanship and “manufacturing” beyond the C20 concepts of mass manufacturing for operational efficiency can become integrated is just starting to evolve. There are many examples, one I am personally familiar with is Ian berry who is Ironsides leather. Ian crafts leather, belts, harness, bags, using just the old tools of the trade, experience, true skill, and passion. It is true craftsmanship, and buying a belt from him is receiving a gift of that experience and craftsmanship. Ian is also a great advertisement for the point above about simplicity. He produced his website using a Weebly template, a few photos, and a bit of time, no cost. No HTML, no complex menus, no computer skills beyond a one finger familiarity with a keyboard.
- Marketing and technology will continue to collide. The days of marketing being unaccountable are over, there is no excuse for not calculating the ROI of your marketing investments these days.Scott Brinkers blog on the intersection of technology and marketing is a terrific resource, his thinking on this is in front of the pack, and allied with Avinash Kaushik’s wonderful Occam’s Razor blog, there is enough brain food to keep most of us fed on the topic.
- Collaborative marketplaces will continue to rise and rise. The web 2.0 enabled one way markets to thrive, Amazon, Ebay, electronic banking, and many others. More recently, collaborative marketplaces have emerged, where both sides of the transaction put something in, rather than just buying a product. Airbnb, Uber, and many others, will continue to explode, mainstream companies in areas threatened will need to consider how they respond. Car hire companies need to have a service, to disrupt themselves, hotel chains need an equivalent to Airbnb, and so on, the disruption is profound, and just beginning. The best thinking around in this is being done by Jeremiah Owyang, whose body of work on the topic is extraordinary
- Mobile first. Use of mobile devices to access websites and social media platforms continues to increase, reaching numbers in late 2013 upward of 65%, and reaching the eighties for some specific sites, numbers that astonish even the bullish predictions of a year ago. In developing countries, where the economies are booming, and fixed line infrastructure is limited, mobile and wireless have simply jumped ahead, and the infrastructure of the developed world will simply not be installed. It is these ocuntries that are driving mobile innovation.
Tell me what you think, please, and have a great 2014.