Since the turn of the 21st century the number of changes that have swept through the marketing industry have been vast: the move to online advertising, the growth of social media, and the importance of video to name just a few.
2014 shows no signs of this slowing down, with a huge number of changes being forecast that will change the world of marketing again. Here’s a rundown of some of the marketing trends that you need to look out for.
Grow Your Brand, Not Just Your Sales
At one point it was OK for a company to promote their product and for a customer to buy it, thus completing the process. Unfortunately, those days are gone. It’s no longer enough for a company to sell to customers – they must engage them and understand what they want. Brand is going to be even more important in 2014, with consumers sticking with companies they know will treat them well.
Top Tip: Take time to understand your target market and what they want. Then do what you can to provide it.
The Edward Snowden scandal changed the world, with companies and the public becoming aware of the scope of surveillance by the NSA in America and GCHQ in the UK. But it’s not just government agencies that collect useful data, many companies do it too, often without the knowledge of their customers. 2014 is the time to become more transparent and open, while protecting your customers’ data at all costs.
Top Tip: Review your privacy procedures and website security. If anything isn’t up to scratch, make sure you fix it.
Be Aware Of The Gatekeepers
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn. The number of ways for us to share our thoughts online is vast, but what about those who don’t? 2014 is the year when marketers will take on board the views of those who express them freely, but also pay more attention to those who still have an opinion but don’t share it so openly.
Top Tip: Do more to unearth the views of your customers and followers – you might just find something worth listening to.
Value Doesn’t Just Mean Money
Tough economic times have a strange effect on people. We all moan about not having money, we all tighten our belts, but we also show resilience and an ability to cope. We might switch supermarkets to a low-cost alternative, but we also place value on brands which we think offer a better product.
2014 will see brands recognising that value has gained a new meaning; it’s no longer just about money, but what the brand will offer us, the quality of a product, and what that product means.
Top Tip: Review how your brand is portrayed and look for the added value you can offer customers.
Don’t Just Think About The Long Term
Economic uncertainty over the past few years has seen rising numbers of consumers unwilling to commit to long-term contracts. Whether it’s because they are unsure in their job or because they don’t want to spend such a vast amount of money over 18 months, customers have moved to a short-term way of thinking. In 2014, brands need to as well.
Streaming services such as Lovefilm and Netflix run pay monthly contracts and Sky provide a day-pass service. This year brands will need to revise how they retain customers, relying more on brand rather than contracts.
Top Tip: Work on how to keep your customers tied to your brand through marketing, social media and brand loyalty.
Invest In Social Before It Takes Down Your Brand
While many consumers don’t like to use social media, those that do can use it to make a brand look foolish. The obvious example here is of a customer who paid for a sponsored tweet because he was so frustrated with the customer service of British Airways. Millions of people saw the tweet and it was a bad day for the company.
In 2014, no matter how big your brand, it’s important to invest in social media and keep track of all the platforms you’re on to avoid a customer services nightmare.
Top Tip: Don’t over-stretch yourself or the resources available to you. Pick the platforms that your customers are most active on and stick with them.
Do Online Properly, Or Don’t Do It At All
There are few businesses nowadays that don’t have an online presence of some sort, having invested in a website within their budget. However, is it always a good thing to have a website? Experts aren’t convinced.
With consumers’ standards on the rise, it’s no longer acceptable for businesses to present something that doesn’t work. Now, more than ever, website reliability is vital.
Top Tip: Invest in your website and make it work, even if there is only basic functionality. Potential customers will appreciate a site they can use easily rather than one that doesn’t work but looks better.
Take Social Responsibility Seriously
With Starbucks coming under attack for not paying their taxes being one of the main stories of last year, the issue of a business’ social responsibility became a hot topic. No longer can a company take action without thinking of the consequences or responsibilities that come with it – just look at the companies that sponsored London 2012.
2014 will see businesses taking their social responsibility more seriously, and in fact using it as a marketing tool.
Top Tip: Think what your business can do to help the local community, but make sure you can stick to what you promise.