There is an old saying that if you keep doing the same thing in the same manner, you will get the same results. The saying is only true if the result you are getting is failure. Unfortunately, past success does not always ensure future success if you keep utilizing the same tools and methods.
The need to adapt is especially critical when disruptive technologies appear. For example, consider how much retailers had to adapt when the Internet became widely available to consumers. In the years since, many chains have had to close numerous brick-and-mortar locations; some brands have completely disappeared from the market, either through acquisition or bankruptcy. At the same time, however, many established brands have thrived and, along with new brands, taken over the market share vacated by those that failed to adapt properly and quickly.
In the coming years, successful marketers are going to have to adapt to the changes brought by advances in technology. They are going to move away from “selling” and become more skilled at establishing relationships.
- “Humanization” of both the company and the consumer will become increasingly important. Today’s customers dislike the image of the cold, uncaring corporation. They want to deal with a company that can express human traits, whether it is an interest in the environment, social consciousness or a genuine commitment to the well-being of their customers. Simultaneously, customers want to be treated like the individuals they are. They want personalized content that is truly relevant to them. Using their names is not enough; your message must reflect your awareness of the customer’s habits, likes and needs.
- Storytelling will become more effective as marketer’s master the art. Stories will span all media channels, from social networks to print ads and from websites to television commercials. An excellent example of stories that span all channels can be found in the tactics used by the movie industry to promote upcoming blockbusters. Consumers are surrounded by little snippets of information that relate to the upcoming movie but which need to be pieced together to obtain a cohesive thread.
- Leveraging content will in innovative ways will become more popular. Consumers want content that educates or entertains; they are tired of having an obvious marketing message shoved in their faces at every turn. Successful marketers will master the technique of providing various content, such as helpful or fun videos, blogs and articles that downplays the sales message.
Marketing efforts will be a combination of media platforms. Some will be traditional platforms that are used in new ways, but others will be new platforms that have been made possible by modern technology.
- Magazines/Newspapers: Print has not yet become obsolete. Furthermore, publishers have become more adept at creating publications for targeted groups and offering access through extended channels such as digital editions. Marketers will continue to allocate a portion of their budget to these publications, but they will be more discerning when deciding the location and timing of print ads.
- Direct Mail: The popularity of direct mail has been waning for years, but that trend should reverse itself during 2015 and 2016. As many marketers have abandoned direct mail due to increased production and mailing costs, consumers are receiving less of it. Ironically, this has made it more effective if it is used as part of a relevant, integrated and personalized strategy.
- Email: Email marketing will see a resurgence in popularity, but like direct mail, the guidelines have changed. Messages will be highly personalized and targeted instead of “blanket” mass mailings.
- Mobile: Increasingly, consumers are using their mobile devices to search, read emails and access social media sites. However, although mobile purchases have increased significantly, many consumers still prefer using their desktop when it is time to hit the “Buy” button especially if the item is a high-dollar one. Marketers need to optimize for mobile for building relationships, especially during the early phases of the customer’s purchase journey, while realizing that mobile is just one part of the customer experience that needs to be seamlessly integrated across all channels.
- iBeacons: iBeacons are a relatively new technology that can provide value to both marketers and consumers when used correctly. When used incorrectly, however, they can seem a little “creepy” to consumers. In a nutshell, beacons recognize when a customer’s cell phone comes within range. A marketing message, such as a discount coupon or sale notification, can be instantly sent to the customer. One reason that these beacons will continue to grow in popularity, however, is the wealth of data that marketers can glean from them. How many times per month is Customer A in the vicinity of your location? What path do most customers follow when they enter your store? How much time do your customers spend in each department? The answers to these and other questions can help you refine your strategy.
Marketers in 2015 and beyond will need to “wear multiple hats.” They will need to hone their writing skills, learn to think like a technology guru and understand the psychological triggers for a variety of customer personas. However, marketers have never before had so many different tools at their disposal to use in getting their message out and measuring their results.