Last year in my 2013 marketing predictions post, I predicted that content marketing would mature in many organizations, that brands would take themselves out of the stories they tell and finally put an end to the notion that marketing equals promotion.
I also talked about the connection between personal branding, content marketing and social selling in a truly social business.
I think I had the topics right. I intentionally avoided digital, mobile marketing and social media because those topics have become less interesting as they are simply expected by our digital, social and mobile customers.
But many brands are still struggling to stay connected to the buyer journey. I think we will begin to see a real shift to customer-centricity in the future marketing organization as the data continues to show our buyers tuning out selfish, promotional messages.
I asked this past year if empathy is the secret to effective marketing? And I think that shift will happen sooner and faster than most traditional marketers believe.
In this article on Forbes, I find myself continuing to beat the content marketing drum:
The social, mobile web has digitized information and allowed us all to connect with anyone, anywhere. When we need information, we can find it instantly. But digital disruption is about more than just information. As brands, we need to kill promotional marketing messages and start providing customer-centric information that is helpful to our target customers.
But we need to go even further than that if we want to break through all the noise. One of the biggest trends I am seeing involves brands acting as producers – going beyond the publisher mentality and setting up newsrooms and production studios. Netflix (“House of Cards”), Red Bull (Media House) and Amazon (Alpha House) are just the first wave of this emerging trend.
2014 will be the year of brand publishing. More brands will setup real newsrooms, start producing content like a publisher – content their audience actually wants to consume AND that drives a business result.
Brands will also begin to partner with publishers, not to create “native ads” but with real content partnerships that create valuable information for the brand and publishers websites (paid and owned media) and that moves through the social web (earned media).
Most brands will move from promoting themselves to creating content that is useful to their audiences. Leading brands will seek to entertain their audiences as well and deliver real news.
2014 will be about 3 things: culture, data and content.
The pressure of more customers doing their own research further into the buying process will finally force sales and marketing to transform themselves into truly customer-centric cultures that use data and personalization to deliver valuable, informative and entertaining content.
So while CMOs and heads of sales will need to lead with courage to put customers ahead of worn out notions that overly promotional marketing and the hard sale still works, Marketing and Sales leaders will be setting up enterprise big data platforms to follow customer trends.
In 2014 the content marketing imperative will become clear for more brands that want to survive (or at least stop wasting their marketing dollars.) They will start creating more visual content like entertaining brand videos and slideshares and vines.
So there you have it. My rank order for marketing trends to follow in 2014:
- Content marketing
- Big Data marketing (personalization)
- Marketing Technology
- Real time marketing or “marketing in the moment” to cover news and hot topics
- Social business strategy (social selling + content marketing + personal brand activation)
- HR as the marketer for the employer brand
- Lead attribution and marketing mix analysis to drive platform investment (web, social, mobile)