Have you noticed that there are hundreds of blogs, social pages, templates, strategies, and advice about marketing trends all over the Internet? Much of the information is full of everything you could imagine, complete with mind-twisting jargon and eye-twitching strategies. It’s hard to know where to start and what to pay attention to.
There’s no denying that we’ve transitioned into a consumer-driven economy, with demands for connection, transparency, and quality stronger than ever. It wasn’t like this in the past. Nobody ever asked us for reviews or feedback about products. There were no rewards programs, referral gifts, and discounts (except on special holidays). Now, marketing trends tell us that’s exactly what drives a business.
Buyers demand more from their brands, and there’s so much competition out there that if you don’t meet those demands, you’ll be eating the dust from the heels of your competitors.
A Bit of Marketing History
Before we get to the marketing trends, let’s review the definition of the term. The American Marketing Association defines marketing as, “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
Marketing includes branding (identity, awareness, and loyalty), communications, public relations, and event coordination. As you can imagine, there are thousands of ways to market a business. With the advent of higher technologies, marketing trends got harder to keep up with.
Long gone are the days where you could force your brand into the minds of your consumers through one of the major marketing channels:
- Print (est. 1839)
- Billboards (est. 1867)
- Radio (est., 1922)
- TV (est. 1941)
- Telemarketing (est. 1950s)
That’s not to say there weren’t any channels before 1839. In fact, research shows several examples of marketing in history:
- Market towns sprang up in the Middle Ages (5th-15th century, but especially in the 12th), where people carted and sold their wares and produce. Some historians believe this was the origin of the term, “marketing.”
- In the 1390’s, Jakob Fugger was a German merchant who traveled the nation to gather information and report on the international textile industry trade.
- Branding and marketing are in antiquity as well. A fish sauce manufacturer from Pompeii in 35 B.C. designed a logo and plastered it around the city and his home, where he entertained national and international guests. His sauce was the most popular item in the Mediterranean and reached as far as France.
Here’s another interesting bit of history: The first telegraph ad was for hardware in 1864. This was the first recorded use of Spam to describe unsolicited advertisements.
In today’s age, you have more than 100 marketing channels and a distracted audience, and that means you’ll need to include a mix of traditional and digital efforts.
To do this, you’ll want to stay on top of the marketing trends that are popping up with blinding regularity. Here are 10 marketing trends that we gathered through combing blogs, reading historical and modern marketing books, and taking part in discussions with industry leaders.
#1: Mobile is dominant
Intelligent devices – wearables, tablets, smartphones, glasses, and others – have and will continue to shape the world, especially marketing, where consumers demand a more personalized relationship with brands.
#2: Content is currency
Educational and entertaining content is the key to online engagement. Writing your own copy is one thing (and not recommended), but designing and writing a promotional video or advertisement for Spotify is another. Creating a good user experience is also a part of content, and don’t get us started on virtual reality and HoloLens mixed reality technology. Content is everything from messaging to web design to market research and social presence.
#3: Social networks have an ecosystem that rival the entire Internet
We thought the Internet was big, but none of us expected the colossal power of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Snapchat. They are quickly turning into the channel for marketing.
#4: Transparency is at the base of all consumer needs
Customers want to be engaged, entertained, and delighted, but they refuse to sacrifice quality and customer service. If you have a poor product, murky communications, or shoddy services, you won’t last long in this era. Businesses who’ve chosen to stay with traditional methods of communications are failing because they refuse to embrace transparency. You read about these companies in the news every few months. Further, companies that take responsibility for their mistakes (“flawsome” folks) are rewarded with loyal advocates.
#5: Big brands are adapting to customer-led marketing
A solid brand and culture connects you to your audience in an emotional way, allowing you to collaborate with them, rather than just sell to them. Customers feel appreciated and rewarded when a company listens to their needs and responds appropriately. Reviews and satisfaction ratings dominate marketing, so having them help you develop a worthy product/service will lead to successful growth.
#6: Brands focus heavily on GenZ
These post-millennial folks are going to be much more demanding than the generations before them. They’ll demand your story. Why are you in business? And if it’s solely for profit or obviously fake, they will turn on you in a heartbeat. It’s time to be real.
#7: User-generated content is a powerful tool
User-generated content (UC) – reviews, testimonials, and social sharing – has surpassed branded content. UC is the life of your brand, so make sure you’re creating a positive experience in the minds of your customers.
#8: Product companies are seeing the most disruption in marketing
Products thrive in this new economy because it revolves around innovative futuristic thinking. Product developers are asking “what if” questions to consumers and listening to their responses, developing a product that is exactly what they wanted. The people who think “how will this product look in the future?” have more ground-breaking developments than anyone else. Think Google, Coca-Cola, and Amazon. These CEO’s thought ahead of their time, predicted a need, and created the solution.
#9: Tech wizards are honing tracking and measuring tools
Currently, most people focus on “vanity” metrics like impressions, shares, likes, and engagement on websites and social pages, but that can rarely be linked to a positive return on investment (ROI). Tech wizards are developing analytical tools that help us mine the detailed and sophisticated data to accurately track ROI and better understand the target audience in terms of cultural and emotional values.
#10: Data-driven disruptive marketing is different from data-driven interruptive marketing
It’s important to know the difference. Disruptive and inbound marketing are focused on building relationships with your customers, while interruptive marketing is the old-school “push” method that no longer appeals to the masses. Disruptive marketers know how to use content to build trust and entertain the audience without interrupting their daily flow.
Welcome to the new era of business and marketing. It’s disruptive and magnificent! If you have some free time (hilarious, right?), you should check out the book, “Disruptive Marketing” by Geoffrey Colon. He gives us a new perspective, and his social conversations and insights are compelling.
We’re all being pushed out of our comfort zones to embrace the rapid-fire changes in our culture and development as a species. Let’s use our skills to usher in reliable and trustworthy business ethics with disruptive marketing that focuses on building relationships with your customers, partners, employees, and community.
Ask the Marketing Experts! Do you have a question about these trends, or did you get an idea you want to brainstorm?