I was called the other morning by a local TV station to come to the studio for an on-camera interview about my marketing predictions for 2017. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I had meetings with clients all morning, so I missed my 15 minutes of fame. I say “fortunately” as I no doubt would have just rambled on about all the things that everyone else says — mobile video, influencer marketing, AI, programmatic media, data data data — and you all would have been bored to tears.
So instead, I have thought about it, talked with a few of my colleagues and, hopefully, I now have something more insightful to say. I won’t write about the latest and greatest tactics and technologies that brands will be using since you already know what they are; instead, I will focus on how to best use them to grow your brand and business.
Thanks to those little things in our pockets or purses, and all the other various screens we stare at all day, we are inundated with images and messages. This is a very different environment than most brands were raised in. One of the most significant changes is that brands’ competition for attention isn’t highly curated entertainment and advertising that people passively watch, it’s other people’s curated images and messages that you can engage and interact with. It’s selfies and cell phones, not directors and expensive cameras! It’s two-way conversations.
Why does every creative brief now have “authentic” in the brand personality section? Why does “personalization” work? Why is it becoming less and less effective for brands to sell their benefits at every opportunity? For the same reason that you would avoid a neighbor who only talks about himself or is always selling something. In this new world, brands need to think and act more like people, because they are competing with other people for attention.
The whole ecosystem has become people-centric and interactive, so people expect to interact with brands, just like how they interact with other people. A brand that continues to operate in the old paradigm will come across as self-centered and selfish, and will not build mutually beneficial relationships.
So, armed with this insight, how should you direct your brand’s marketing activities in 2017 for maximum effectiveness? From a brand and messaging perspective, think about what they taught you in nursery school. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Share. Listen. Don’t talk about yourself too much. Be helpful. How does this convert into sales? Well, it should be very natural if you have started in an area of mutual interest, where your brand has a credible role in their life as a resource and solution.
The main thing is to keep it simple. Base your brand on a relevant human truth. Establish a clear point of view on how your brand will address that human truth. All your messaging should flow from that POV. This will ensure that each and every brand experience is consistent, relevant and valuable. And all those latest and greatest technologies and tactics?
They offer brands, even smaller, challenger brands, the opportunity to effectively deliver that right message to those right people at the right time and place. If you use them for that, not only will you get the sale, but you should also get an email, or a follower, so you can stay in touch for the future. They might even introduce you to their friends.