Time-elapsed photo of traffic representing marketing futureIn my Marketing Predictions post from last year, I did not break any new ground when I predicted that 2012 would be all about social, content and mobile.

I predicted that we would see increased buzz talking about how to become a social business, how to execute content strategy and how to create a more mobile-optimized digital experience for our customers.

I’m pretty happy to see that I wasn’t too far off. I believe that our progress has been too slow but I think I got the topics right.

Where did I fall short? I predicted more CMOs would move to change the marketing mindset from one of promoting products to one of creating valuable customer-focused content. Outside of the very few consumer marketing examples like the CocaCola Journey, I’m not sure I got that one right.

So read on to hear what I think is in store for marketing in 2013…

Marketing Predictions: Content Marketing Matures

Content marketing has become a huge buzzword in marketing lately as people have mastered the mechanics of social media channels but are finding that they aren’t seeing any results. Why? Because you cannot SPAM people on Twitter or Facebook and generate leads or new customers.

Marketers are beginning to understand that the road to success in the social business world is paved with valuable content that customers want.

The “Marketing Equals Promotion” Paradigm Has To Break

As the brave content marketing souls seek to build new content supply chains and content curation models, this is causing one very large problem for the marketing organization: our leaders are asking us to sell, sell, sell.

The concept that marketing and product promotion are synonymous is being challenged by the results of overly-promotional social media content and traditional push marketing efforts.

Email, telemarketing, really any over-promotion on digital channels is causing a backlash as people ignore ads, opt out of emails and watch you throw your marketing dollars out the door.

Taking The Brand Out Of The Story

Content Marketing and Social Business strategy is forcing marketers to come to the realization that we need to take our product and our brand out of the story.

We have to provide value. We have to be interesting, human and trustworthy. We have to answer customer questions without the backhanded used-car salesmen pitch at the end. Customers are looking for what’s in it for them and they are highly skeptical of brands looking out only for themselves.

Branded Content Hubs Publishing Unbranded Content

Because of these trends, leading marketers are creating an environment that allows their customers, employees and partner ecosystems to tell stories. They are not creating branded content they are enabling content that is unbranded or personally branded such as thought leadership, personal stories, or points of view on the topics people are interested in vs. the products companies want to sell.

In 2013, many more brands will seek to become publishers. The smart ones will create branded hubs of content centered around customer content. The rest will see the trend and create content factories of promotional branded content that simply prolongs the slow agonizing death of the static, traditional, corporate website.

Personal Branding and Social Business Thought Leaders

I think we will continue to see the rise of the personal brand, brand evangelists and thought leaders as formal roles within companies.

I also hope that content marketing and social business initiatives reach well outside of marketing and across the social business.

This may have some downsides: I think this will see us continue to create more content and put the pressure on us content marketers to start to focus more on quality.

New Roles Emerge: Content Strategist, Data Scientist, Social Business Manager

My biggest prediction for 2013 in marketing is that organizations will begin to address the gap between the way our customers seek information during the buying process and the gaps in the information we marketers provide.

This will create a greater need for new roles to be created in many more companies. Roles such as Content Strategist, Chief Content Office, Data Scientists (in marketing) and Social Business Managers (Marketers spreading into other departments like sales and customer support).

These roles will help companies to bridge the gaps and address the changing buyer journey.

What’s Your 2013 Marketing Prediction?

So, that’s my list of 2013 predictions and in some cases, wishful thinking. Do you Agree? Disagree? Please tell me what you think in the comments below and follow the conversation on Twitter,  LinkedInFacebook or Google+.

Here are some additional 2013 Marketing Predictions from around the web…

Content Marketing and Social Media Predictions from the Content Marketing Institute

8 Insightful Marketing Predictions from Hubspot

B2B Marketing Predictions from Search Engine Journal

13 Marketing Trends for 2013 from Business 2 Community

About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is the Head of Strategy for the leading content marketing platform, NewsCred. He is also the author of B2B Marketing Insider, a contributor to Forbes and a frequent speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, social business, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding.  Follow Michael on Twitter (@BrennerMichael)LinkedInFacebook and Google+ and Subscribe to B2B Marketing Insider by Email

24 Comments

  1. Chad Pollitt said…

    Michael:

    Great post, as always. Our visions of the future align perfectly. I thought it would be prudent to share this post with your community:

    http://www.slingshotseo.com/blog/why-most-marketers-have-online-demand-generation-all-wrong/

    The above post is meant to “sell” the idea that creating content (content marketing) should have the intent of creating demand for community membership, as opposed to demand for products and services and exactly why.

    Understanding the concepts you present above and in the post I shared is critical for marketers to understand today and into the future.

    Hope you agree that it aligns well – have a great 2013!

    @CPollittIU

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Love it Chad. We also just had Drew Davis talking to our team about using content to create demand. But I like the spin you put on it. You are essentially building an audience. Then they decide when and what to buy.

      Thanks for extending the thought. I like the direction you are going!

  2. Ray Brown said…

    Great article and I agree with most of your predictions. I would add video and mobile to your list as two things that will accelerate rapidly in 2023

    • Michael Brenner said…

      @Ray, I agree. I predicted video would have a break-out year in 2012 but didn’t really see it. But I do think it’s coming! And the trend on mobile is undeniable.

  3. Anne said…

    Good points, and you obviously know your stuff. When you talk about “taking the brand out of the story,” I get concerned about transparency. If as a consumer I find out after the fact that a brand was behind the “story” and that’s not disclosed, I won’t buy that brand.

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Thanks Anne, to clarify, by “taking brand out of the story” what I really mean is to stop talking about products and just present compelling content about business issues.

      The content should always disclose who is providing it but the stories themselves shouldn’t be about the products.

  4. Lyndon Johnson said…

    Nice post Michael, thank you. Some interesting ideas – I’m about to write my predictions post for 2013 so it was interesting to read yours.

    I agree that the marketing = promotion paradigm needs to be broken, but I fear that the majority of companies simply won’t get it. Ever. The rise of social media has made it worse – and while some companies may figure it out, I think it’ll be the exception rather than the rule.

    I wrote about this recently http://thinkdifferently.ca/differently/public-relations-≠-media-relations – I’d love your views.

    One of the reasons I think this is because I agree that the rise of personal brands and self-appointed ‘experts’ will continue to grow. The majority are ill-informed and do not share your/our view on marketing is not just about promotion.

    I predicted this trend in May – and it appears to have continued throughout the year http://thinkdifferently.ca/differently/beware-false-experts

    As for taking the brand out of marketing… I think that’s dangerous. I agree that the pitch needs to come out, but I think actually brand will become more important in marketing. I think that the companies that get it will use brand values more than they have to date to build relationships with savvy customers.

    One problem is that is, I believe that an increasing majority of the population are less interested in brand and more interested in ‘cool’ and cost – brand loyalty is becoming less important.

    When I post my predictions for 2013 I’ll let you know – I’d love to get your views on them.

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Hi Lyndon,

      I totally agree with you. Most marketers are increasing the amount of promotion as response rates continue to fall. And the “experts” who are beng shoved in front of us are too often just presenting veiled attempts at selling the products.

      By taking brand out of the story, I meant the pitch. When passionate business people (like you) simply write about what they know and present compelling content, that takes the brand out of the story. But as I mentioned, too often people equate blogging and social to new platforms to promote on.

      I do think branding itself will become more important as folks learn about the people behind a brand and their stories.

      Please send me your predictions when complete. I would love to see them.

  5. Michael Higashi said…

    Michael-
    Great, insightful post from you as I’ve come to expect. This time of the year is loaded with 2013 predictions, newfangled “Big Data” or “real-time” this or that – I appreciate that you put the focus on where it matters most – the CMO/Human Leader.

    If I had to pick one I think has the best chance of traction, it’s the mindset change of “Taking the Brand Out of the Story”.

    Even the “Megabrand” Adidas http://bit.ly/T9Xwft marketing team sees the value of this approach in their #thereturn campaign.

    But you don’t need a $10M marketing budget to use the same strategy and tactics as Adidas (# underdogs at 5% of the basketball shoe market) marketing team for a killer online web video series and social media campaign.

    Keep the thought-provoking posts coming – thanks!

    – Michael

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Thanks Michael, Adidas is a great example and I agree with you we don’t need huge budgets to pull it off. It just takes a team of passionate people willing to tell their personal stories. Thanks for reading, for your comment and for following my own journey.

  6. Dr. Rae said…

    Good information Michael…. Thank you for sharing your journey!

  7. AMS said…

    Hi Michael, congrats on your 2012 predictions, and you’re probably spot on for 2013! Agree with your biggest prediction that we’ll start addressing the disconnect between actual buyer behavior and the marketing strategies we employ.

    It will be interesting to see if there is growth in data mining jobs as you predicted. An article from the NYT earlier this year really opened my eyes to what could be the future:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hp

  8. Susan Silver said…

    My concern with content marketing is that we only focus on the content. I was trying to explain this recently in a post. But, basically, it is a chess game. The content is a tool that gives us insight into customer’s brains. Sure we can do all the market research in the world, but we can see how customers actually interact on our websites compared to what they say (or search).

    I think the key to content marketing is the relationships that turn into word of mouth promotion and referrals. We make too much of the content itself and I think that is why it is becoming a less effective strategy. There is just too much out there now. Customers do not even know who to trust anymore.

    My predication, Data and analysis are going to rule the lives of marketers for the foreseeable future.

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Hi Susan,

      I don’t totally disagree because I think we are saying the same thing. Content Marketing is only effective when the content uses data and analysis to attract an audience, create trust and deliver value. If it is ineffective it is because the content stinks and doesn’t create value for the consumer.

      I also agree with you that 2013 will see a lot of focus on data (big data) and analytics for marketing.

  9. Karen Cook said…

    hey, Great post, so full of important content!

  10. Graeme Fraser said…

    Hi Michael,

    I agree with all of this. The only thing I think that could be added is a closer alignment of the sales and marketing functions. I think this is still a big challenge in B2B. Some companies have got it licked, however the majority are behind. Whether it’s through technology such as marketing automation or simply communication and collaboration it doesn’t matter. What matters is that sales and marketing are working together symbiotically. It seems criminal that in 2012, marketers are still seeing this as a challenge, but that’s the reality. And actually, much of your predictions require sales to be involved.

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