The greatest marketing professionals in the game — the best of the best — all share one common trait: a great eye for trends. In the last decade, new technologies have changed the marketing world at a rapid rate, and the best marketers have been ahead of the curve in recognizing the potential to utilize these new platforms. Social media sites have allowed for an increased level of interaction between companies and their customers. Mobile technology created another engaging platform for marketers to utilize. The ever-increasing gathering of and access to “big data” has made comprehensive customer data widely available to companies and their marketing agencies alike.
Given the effect of technological advances on the marketing world, it's no surprise that many of us spend large portions of our time attempting to predict the next big technological shift. While the core principles of marketing are likely to stay the same, the best methods for applying them are rapidly changing due to the influence of new technologies on consumer's lives. In an article for Forbes, Avi Dan, founder of Avidan Strategies, explains it like this (emphasis mine),
“The fundamentals of marketing are always going to be the same, but with the landscape changing at the speed of technology, what matters most now is how one activates the fundamentals.”
This leaves us with a plethora of questions: What's the next trend? How can it be applied? Is it sustainable? What data should be studied? How applicable is this data to specific markets? Are there any definitive answers to these question right now?
I believe there are. Let's take a look at four big trends.
1. Marketing Goes Mobile
Virtually everything can be done from a mobile device today. I can send emails, host meetings, build websites, watch television, and read the latest best sellers. The creation of tablets and smart phones allowed marketing to become smaller and more personal, and technological platforms are only going to become smaller, simpler, and more interactive. Daniel Newman, best selling author of “The Millennial CEO,” explains in an article for Forbes,
“As the focus is shifting to smaller screens, brands will be able to strike up a more personalized relationship with their customers by leveraging the power of mobile.”
Considering the time that we all spend on our phones, we now have the ability to interact with consumers where they are spending the majority of their time. Mobile-focused marketing strategies will continue to become more mainstream, with features ranging from tailored-for-mobile video advertisements to unique, customizable apps that bring personalized brand interaction to a new level.
2. Globalization Will Create Personalization
Another consequence of the move from billboards and posters to tablets and iPhones is a higher degree of personalization. Ironically, as the world becomes more connected and globalized, marketing has become more regionalized. As we're able to gather more and more comprehensive data about where consumers are allocating their attention, marketers are able to cater more and more to the specific interests and needs of different groups. Whereas a marketing firm fifty years ago may have been concerned with generating a message that could reach the widest possible audience, the modern marketing firm is much more likely to be concerned with ideas that will resonate with specific subsets of consumers. Avi Dan argues,
“Personalization is not a trend. It is a marketing tsunami, here to stay, which will transform how we think about and how we manage global brands. Companies will be decentralizing their structure and increase regional and local influence.”
Personalized ads, regardless of how “Sci-Fi” they may seem, are the future — good marketing professionals will take this trend seriously.
3. Transparency Will Reign
Branding is one of the most powerful tools that businesses possess, and transparency has become an increasingly desirable trait for many consumers. Customers want to know if our companies are genuine in their missions, not just out for profit. Is our product good for them as well as society, and can we prove it? This kind of transparent branding builds a real sense of trust, loyalty, and goodwill with consumers.
If we can show customers that we can “walk the talk,” then we'll be successful in building out these loyal customer bases. Dan writes,
“Next year the best brands won’t be those with the best stories, or sort of made up fictional stories, but those that will give an accurate and real time picture of what they are doing in the interest of the consumer, at any given time.”
The more open and connected that a business is with their customers, the stronger their brand and business will become.
4. Embracing the User
User-generated content is only going to grow. We can already see this phenomena with the prevalence of online reviews, the growth of personal blogs, and the emphasis placed on monitoring, interacting, and marketing on social media sites. Soon, it will be our users that market our brands under the watchful eyes of our marketing teams. As Dan explains,
“The power of user-generated content will surpass branded content as brands begin to relinquish control of their own brands’ marketing to their customers. In response to this model of content production, content co-creation between brands and consumers will become a popular trend.”
By discussing our products and services on content communities, placing reviews on sites such as Yelp or Zomato, or posting something on social media, our customers are building our brands and marketing our products for us. In the future, the best marketers will be generating campaigns and projects that leverage the power of their customer's voice. Instead of marketing to the customer, we will be marketing with the customer.
One thing that is certain about the future of marketing is that the platforms and technology that marketers utilize are going to continue to shift toward increasing interactivity and engagement. Personally, I'm keeping an eye out for new technologies that will allow for closer, personally-customized interactions with potential customers. The next Facebook or Twitter is right around the corner, and along with it, more huge changes for the marketing field.
Have your own thoughts and opinions about the marketing trends of the future? Join the conversation by tweeting @EidsonPartners!