Looking ahead to 2010, marketers will need steadfast agility just to stay in the game, much less to hit the finish line ahead of the competition. Here are seven ideas, wrapped in Olympic glory, that should deliver the gold.
1. Social Media: A Marathon, Not a Sprint
Hoping to become fast friends with their targets, brands rushed into Facebook and Twitter in 2009 without investing sufficient time or resources. In 2010, savvy marketers will increase their commitment to social media by first listening and then offering up a steady stream of engaging content that their fans actually want. This will be particularly true for B2B brands, which have been far slower than B2C brands to embrace social media. With one comScore study indicating that branded social media activities can have a multiplier effect on search results, there is even a quantifiable rationale for brands to raise their social media bar in 2010.
2. Mash-Ups: Taking Inspiration from Biathlons
A few innovative marketers took a shot at mash-ups in 2009. E.P. Carrillo, a new cigar manufacturer, created a mesmerizing Twitter and Google Maps mash-up for its "coming soon" site that tracks cigar tweets from around the world. In 2010, these kinds of mash-ups will become smoking hot as marketers look to extend the value of their social media activities. Recognizing that tech-savvy consumers glide seamlessly between personal and business, online and offline, mobile and desktop, far-sighted marketers will bring together formerly disparate elements into a cohesive and self-perpetuating social media experience.
3. App Happy: On Your Mark,
Get Set, Go Crazy
Given the success a handful of marketers enjoyed with their "apps" in 2009, expect a blaze of new entries in 2010. IPhone apps that provide demonstrable utility like Kraft's iFood Assistant recipe finder, Benjamin Moore's color matcher and Zipcar's GPS-based car finder will continue to gain traction. Expect more apps that integrate with other social media like the Gap StyleMixer that allows you to mix and match clothes and share them with friends on Facebook. And don't forget the non-iPhone universe. The steakhouse Maloney and Porcelli cooked up a somewhat deviant web-based app at Expense A Steak.com that extrudes faux expense reports with stunning verisimilitude.
4. Expose Yourself: Win the Crowd With
The emergence of several "tell all" consumer-created sites signals the arrival of a new era of honesty and transparency, especially for brands targeting those under 35. Sites like fmylife.com, textsfromlastnight.com and MyParentsJoinedFacebook.com reflect a generation willing to bare and share all without the least trepidation. Marketers who share this sense of honesty, who admit mistakes and address shortcomings in real-time will find a youthful army of comrades willing to do their bidding.
5. Measure Up: Track Every Second
With more dollars earmarked for social media, marketers will undoubtedly use new tools to monitor the conversations that are happening with or without them. Radian6 and Scout Labs emerged in 2009 as two of the leading social media monitoring tools. And while these tools are great, each requires a sizeable commitment by the marketer in time of staff, a commitment that can and does pay off. Just ask JetBlue, which manages to enhance customer loyalty daily by responding to each and every customer Tweet within minutes, following 117,000 on Twitter, and in the process generating more than 1.3 million followers.
6. Mobile Media: Catching Up at Last
Despite all the hype by this author and others, less than a third of marketers had a budget for mobile in 2009. In 2010, smartphone penetration should rise to at least 25% (from 17% in Q2 '09), making it a lot easier to deliver a rich mobile experience worthy of consumer attention. The blending of mobile and social apps like Facebook, Loop'd and Twitter has also created a new openness towards this medium. Given the desirable demographics of smartphone owners, at minimum marketers should give strong consideration to creating a mobile-friendly website.
7. Be Positive: Attitude is Everything
While honesty is a worthy friend to marketers, don't forget that almost no one wants to date a Debbie Downer. A recent poll by Adweek/Harris found "relative little enthusiasm and lots of indifference for ads that refer to the downturn." Even if the economy is slow to recover in 2010, find the silver lining for your customers and prospects with both words and actions. Like the athletes whose positive outlooks and superior skills propel them to victory, so, too, can marketers find success with an upbeat message and an undeniable value proposition.