Do you remember slide night? Those evenings when the family would gather to view the slightly blurred images of recent holidays, birthdays or any special event in the make-shift theatrette (usually the lounge room).
The desire to share our lives didn’t leave us the minute we stopped using the projector. It’s now found in new places and by using different tools. What’s different now is what you belong to, where they are, how you contribute/listen and what’s the topic of conversation.
This is the biggest shift in marketing and communications over the last few years. No longer are businesses just ‘places that sell stuff or do things for us’ but they are hubs of connectivity, community, advice, values, ideas and emotional investment.
What we have already seen with the advent of social media is only the tip of the iceberg. With the use of computers, smart phones, iPads etc. we can now see where people are, know what they are up to in their daily lives and share with them – in real time – their holidays, birthdays and special event.
Marketing and communications trends are a hot topic. Staying ahead of the wave and adapting your business practices to cope with the rate of change is one of the greatest challenges a business can face.
Trend One: Friendtelligence
Sounds like word-of-mouth? Well, Derrick Daye and Brad VanAuken* call it Friendtelligence. They refer to the increase of influence of your friends in making decisions due to the unparalleled access we now have to each.
The need for trust, brand-transparency, substance and honesty are more important than ever before. In highly competitive business environments, customer service and feeling like someone actually cares about us is vital for success.
As humans we love giving recommendations; and as businesses we want to our customers to refer us, however, managing the ‘right’ word-of-mouth, at speeds and in circles that will make a difference to our bottom-line is the trick.
Trend Two: Quality is everything
As businesses become the hub of connectedness, what is going to keep your customers interested is quality as opposed to quantity.
Quality brand advocates: investing in a handful of people who help you build your business – via word-of-mouth, testimonials, social media, introductions and mentoring, is far greater than focusing on having thousands of people on your database, connected to you via Twitter or clicking through on your website.
Quality content: people will read your content if it is high quality. Well-thought out, well-layed out relevant content that is motivating and compelling will keep people interested.
Having the right content, keywords and phrases is vital for google-metrics or search engine optimisation – people actually finding you through a google search. The WWW is a crowded busy place, having something good to say, and said well, helps to cut through the noise.
Quality Integration: The way all your marketing activities speak to each other is becoming increasingly important. The creation of a ‘complete brand experience’ can significantly help you leverage your return-on-investment.
Trend Three: Brand = Emotion + Value
Especially in highly competitive markets, finding something that makes you different is increasingly critical.
The emotional parts of your business or, the way people feel when they interact with you, is what you will be remembered for.
Your brand and what it represents in terms of value is a key identifier in your market. What makes your products and services more ‘valuable’ is increasingly wrapped up in the sense of what your brand represents. People will pay for brand – and everything associated with it.
Trend Four: What is old is new(ish) again
It seems that good old-fashion customer service, honesty and community have crept back into the business world. The friendly green-grocer who helped carry bags to the car is simple example of the essence of the ‘new’ trends in marketing and business communications.
One of the core elements of marketing that will never go out of fashion is having a good strategic communications plan. You don’t need anything fancy, but without a good plan, no amount of activity can be leveraged, consistent and sustain your business for the long-run.
Now, where’s that projector?