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. Smart marketers know that they need to get ahead of the trends and anticipate the next big things, or else be devoured by their competitors. Here is what I believe could be some of the most interesting developments next year:
Transparency will become the most important tool of marketing. Consumers are going to continue to exert power and influence. The idea of radical transparency is something that few brands are taking advantage of now, and most brands fight it. 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.
CMOs will become Chief Simplifier Officers. Most companies create complexity, especially even as the landscape itself is turning more complex. They’ve arranged themselves in endless new vertical silos, by geography, product, or function that hamper them when it comes to working more closely and with the free flow of ideas. To optimize consumer and customer engagements, CMOs will begin to put silo busting on top of their agenda and begin to think holistically about the company’s overall value proposition, integrating messages and insights across business units, geographies, and functional groups.
We will witness the emergence of the marketing technologists. Too many companies think in terms of digital marketing. Instead, they should be thinking in terms of marketing in a digital world. The best marketer in a digital world would be the marketing technologists, people with heavy digital DNA and technology acumen. They will be integrated seamlessly with the marketing groups and will play an important role in how marketing strategies are developed and applied.
The winners will be adept at agility marketing. Social media produced a different, more elusive consumer with short-term thinking. Marketers are now chasing their daily meanderings in “likes”, “shares”, “tweets”, click-through rates, and ever more immediate but pointless metrics. The best marketers will have ever more consumer data, capable of faster adaption, shorter lead times, and always-on, real-time marketing. Instead of the next month or next quarter the focal point for the winners becomes the next hour.
Media agencies will step up and lead. Media agencies have been built to give strictly narrow media recommendations. But today creativity is the currency of an effective media placement. Media agencies will be moving from being media-facing to consumer facing. Uniquely positioned at the intersection of technology and the consumer, they will become their clients’ key strategic partner, even more so than creative agencies, as big data and technology make “Math Men” the most important asset of marketers.
Hispanic agencies will go mainstream. Hispanics are 17% of the U.S. population, and are 56% of total U.S. population growth since the last decade. U.S. Hispanic purchasing power exceeds $1 trillion and is expected to grow by 2017 80% faster than non-Hispanic. Marketers will finally pay attention next year and stop marginalizing Hispanic ad agencies. Those agencies are capable of engaging consumers well beyond this demographic. Hispanic agencies will reach the mainstream in 2015.
Marketing will shift from globalization to personalization. The world is more connected because of technology these days, but marketing is becoming more regionalized, and more localized, even more individualized, as consumers resist homogenization. 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 decentralizing their structure and increase regional and local influence.
Procurement will become more powerful. Companies will continue to maintain a cautious financial stance, and marketing procurement will continue to carry a lot of clout, driving for greater accountability and transparency. Procurement will partner more closely with the CMO, CIO, CTO and CFO to remove internal roadblock and it will become more focused on agency operations and improving efficiencies there, not just fee negotiations.
There will be a growing focus on Internal Communications. Companies will be focused on internal communications as a marketing asset. They will look at it as a key challenge and opportunity to create brand ambassadors and make sure that employees and vendors understand and live “the brand,” as well as the vision and strategy of the company.
Holding companies will start divesting assets. The legacy agencies, those that still adhere to the obsolete TV model, having become mature businesses. The ad giants have been frantically gobbling up digital agencies, but the labor intensive digital model is less lucrative than the TV-focused business model. With growing pressure on their bottom line and with fewer opportunities to grow via M&A activity there will be pressure to divest non-essential assets.
The economics of marketing in a digital world will challenge marketers. Because smart content creation should be native to the digital channel that reaches the audience, the single biggest challenge that marketers will need to solve is how to scale content in an economic way.
Avi Dan is founder of Avidan Strategies, a leading agency search and compensation consultant