Dave suggested I write something important this week, something for marketers in 2014, after all we’ve just updated our health-check tool, and recognise that our audience are looking ahead and busy planning for success this year, so that makes sense. My post from a year ago did just that, my advice was to focus on (1) content and (2) customer journeys across mobile channels. Proven advice I think? It’s interesting as those two things also came out top in an informal Smart Insights survey that we ran in early December. So am I to sugar coat the same advice and ideas differently this year? On the one hand yes, it’s still super relevant, but it’s missing some thing else for 2014.
I wake up worrying about marketing
I hope that you do too? I genuinely do worry. I run an agency with paying clients, their happiness is my focus, so it’s my job to worry about marketing if only for my clients and maintaining my ability to make mortgage payments. I fear for what 2014 holds for some brands, they’re just not getting how big the shift is, how much our consumer audience is changing. Here’s just two reasons why:
- In digital, the landscape keeps shifting, too fast: We're beyond confused because we chase the platforms which change, and forget the consumer. With Snapchat's prolific growth rates, and WhatsApp claiming to have more users than Twitter whilst carrying more messages than Facebook, and we already know Instagram to be a popular choice with the cool guys (hat tip to Zuckerberg for buying that for $1Bn early on), the rate at which your audience is moving between platforms is frightening. On top of that a client shared further evidence with me this week that a growing number of teenagers are re-evaluating their use of Facebook altogether, it’s not long since Facebook was stealing those younger users? Though still ever-popular, the demographic of Facebook users is changing again in the process. More on that here.
- Our audiences have ADD yet 99% of marketers market like it’s 2004 not 2014. One piece of advice for this year, stop that. Are the‘traditional media channels (TV, print, outdoor media etc) and even much of digital (online display, search advertising, not to mention email - how bad is email these days - remember 25%+ open rates, thing of the past right?) giving you a proportional return? I’m a huge fan of content marketing yet even well placed content may never really be noticed by your shifting and attention lacking audience. It is this reality where disruption - in digital or traditional form - is becoming obsolete. We need knew models.
- In summary - it’s not easy to get consumer attention anymore, let's stop pretending that it is and that we can blast or buy our way into the hearts and minds of our audience by varying media spend across ‘distribution channels’. It’s superficial, expensive, unreliable and unsustainable - and social media is not a new distribution channel channel, it’s not TV 2.0.
“Creating content that allows us to share our experiences, thoughts, and ideas in real time is becoming an intrinsic part of life in the twenty-first century.” Gary Vaynerchuck - Jab Jab Jab, Right Hook
Story-tell in 2014 using a strong value proposition
If you want to sell more and be successful this year, then there are emerging new rules - the best advice I can give is to go and buy a copy of Gary Vaynerchuck's new book, better still read and really study it. Though not necessarily all new stuff, I wrote about this a while ago, I think 2014 does need for us to re-evaluate budget priorites - because we're in business not because of hot new buzzwords or trends.
- Recognise that you need to have the customer’s attention before you can sell, they need to be more than just remotely interested. More than sub-consciously influenced by a display ad that they don't click on, or a bill-board that they miss whilst walking head down with mobile in hand. Connect with consumers in their world, on their terms, around things that they care about. Social media offers so many tools for this, and they're free.
- Go where your audience is most of their time (in social media), where they demand, respect the difference in the platforms that they use (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram) before you develop plans and make content. Respecting the platforms with your content format, and respecting the consumer by creating quality brand interactions is important - simply tweeting vacuous comments or promotional material is not social media marketing.
- Balance! We must all learn to balance the two-way, value-add storytelling (Gary V calls these jabs) element of social media, where we build community, with the necessary shameless promotion when we must promote and go for the sell (Gary V calls these right hooks). It's common sense really and Gary's analogy wouldn't be mine, yet it's very useful.
- Integration of digital comes via content in the most part, repurposed and reshaped appropriately for different channels and platforms, content can be anchored to wider campaign concepts if you're brand is intent on spending millions via traditional channels.
- Amplify with advertising, of course, I’m not saying that stuff’s dead or that SEO is redundant, or even above the line spend should be a crime - but in terms of priorities for the most of us - it’s time we market like it’s 2014 and on the terms of customers first - this includes B2B, behind every B there's a C. You only need to reflect on your own consumption of media and content, and those of your friends and of course target audience, to know how true this is.