In the last 2 years, we have seen the emergence of new technologies, innovation across various management (operational) functions as well as new out of the box entrepreneurship thought approaches. This year will not be driven by what corporate giants would show but by innovative thinking of new kids on the block.
Here is my quick retake on these success mantras, which eventually will be the vital components of most of the successful companies in 2014. The effective implementation of these best practices would not only require a detailed ROI driven planning and implementation till the last mile but would also be dependent on successfully driving marketing and brand strategies with excellence.
- Highly Personalized & Customized Customer Experience & Customer Services by leveraging Big Data
- Content Marketing as part of overall Marketing Strategy
- A 360-degree integrated multi-channel distribution strategy
- Developing unique brand experiences by storytelling
- Integrate new age customer-friendly technologies
1. Highly Personalized & Customized Customer Experience & Customer Services by leveraging Big Data
Big data is going to play a vital role in how companies across the globe will take the next leap in customer engagement as well as in customer service.
The biggest challenge of effectively leveraging Big Data would be to use the plethora of information to match with real consumer insights, preferences and behavior to improve the experience of your customers. One interesting perspective would be to use this data in analyzing the consumer behavior and think of new outcomes which their consumers would adopt. It would further create a solid foundation of CRM to establish highly customized communication and eventually build a respectful relationship with customers.
2. Content Marketing as part of overall Marketing Strategy
Content marketing has emerged as the most critical piece of an inbound marketing strategy. If we analyze some of the trends that are discussed below, there are no second thoughts that we’re poised to see explosive growth in the way businesses ‘do’ marketing.
In the year 2014, ‘Content marketing’ will have distinct importance within organizations courtesy its significantly lower customer acquisition costs. Marketing strategies would be built around it with investments being made in documented content strategies and eventually in recruitment of dedicated content marketing managers.
Another important aspect to be considered is that “mobile will overtake desktop usage within the next 2 years”. This would lead to the next area of growth for content marketing. Interestingly, Google’s recent rollout of its new algorithm, “Hummingbird,” along with the complete revocation of keyword data from Google Analytics, reinforce this prediction.
Creating content that can be read ‘on the go’ will become increasingly important, which means mobile-friendly formatting, shorter and more actionable blog posts, and considering which devices your audience will be using to access your content.
This would drive in the emergence of a customized & personalized content marketing approaches e.g. GPS-enabled smartphones will increasingly utilize location and personal-preference information to provide content (offers, content, information) based on a user’s current location.
3. A 360-degree integrated multi-channel distribution strategy
Companies may allocate different weightages to different marketing channels but that have to realize that their prospective as well as existing customer is seeing, experiencing and engaging with their brand at every possible touch point. Be it offline or online or mobile, the success mantra of any marketing campaign lies in a closely integrated and implemented campaign that leverages all possible consumer touch points.
Companies need to make a seamless combination of off-and-online elements into one single multi-channel distribution strategy. They need to deliver direct brand-to-customer interaction with the help of innovative technology (e.g. touch screens, sensors, interactive cameras, Wi-Fi- and 4G-connectivity, LCD screens), by providing opportunities to experience products (see, feel, touch, smell, hear, taste) before and during the purchasing process, by providing easy-to-understand and stimulating product presentations and merchandising solutions, by offering expert staff, consultation facilities, samples, etc. Good examples are EMart, KFC, British Airways, IBM, Converse and Adidas.
4. Developing unique brand experiences by storytelling
There is no denying the fact that unique brand experiences are vital to engage with consumers. It stimulates word of mouth publicity that generates a lot of user-generated content i.e. in one word “viral content”.
Unlike the direct transactional sales driven communication, companies will have to utilize interesting storytelling techniques. They will have to acknowledge the fact that their prospective customer is a human being first and thus they should talk in a human language. Interesting stories using videos, blogs, consumer experiences, brand stories, pictures, songs….all would be leveraged to build a direct communication with their customers.
This drastically reduces the investment in sales and business development efforts as your products, services and brand is literally being marketed and sold by none other then your prospective as well as existing customers who have become your credible and influential brand advocates.
Not to forget – One major strategic objective of this approach besides encouraging customers create an emotional connection with your brand, will be to drive them to action.
5. Integrate new age customer-friendly technologies
As mentioned above, this is an era of integrated marketing communication. Today’s customer is one of the most advanced adopters of new age technologies and tools.
And with media publishing companies leaving no stone unturned in utilizing every possible platform for advertising, it has become imperative for the companies to ensure that not only channels but also technologies are well integrated too in their marketing campaigns.
- Mobile technology (the main platform for more than 50% of all social interactions)
- Augmented reality for real time virtual experience
- Compatibility of web assets with all platforms using responsive designs
- Location based customer/prospect mapping and personalized location based marketing
- Streaming and On-Demand media
- Cognitive Computing will further evolve and assist companies to understand and predict consumer behavior using artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms.
In a nutshell, marketing and branding in 2014 will require more than ever the integration of marketing into all business efforts and departments, including customer experience, design, sales, and product development by effectively leveraging new age customer friendly technologies.