2010 is poised to be an exciting year for marketers; trends that have been taking shape over the course of the past decade are creating new opportunities for business owners. The first 10 years of the 21st century brought economic problems, corporate collapses and environmental disasters, but it was also a decade defined by a shift in communications from traditional media to a worldwide conversation that flows faster and farther than anyone could have imagined. Thanks to the tools of the social web, such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, online video and so on, news and information travels instantaneously, and that means marketers have new and exciting opportunities to reach consumers.
With those economic, cultural, political and environmental events, as well as the advances in technology and the global online conversation in mind, following are 10 trends that affect all areas of marketing, from advertising to branding and everything in between, and will shape marketing strategy throughout 2010 and beyond.
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- Transparency and trust are paramount.
Consumers have lived through a variety of negative events throughout the past decade, and they're no longer willing to accept anything businesses tell them. Brands that embrace the loss of naïveté and make a concentrated effort to be honest and open in their marketing communications will generate positive consumer responses, which can lead to brand loyalty and brand advocacy. Building trust is the most important thing in 2010, and once you've earned it, you need to make sure you keep it. In other words, transparency and trust are not a one-time thing. They're an ongoing effort.
- Less interruption, more enhancement and value-add.
The days when ads and marketing messages were developed for the sole purpose of getting the attention of consumers are over. People expect more (or in the case of interruptions, less) from businesses and brands. Give them more by ensuring your marketing communications and efforts deliver useful and meaningful value.
- Speaking of value . . .
The economic downturn that occurred in the latter part of the past decade stopped many consumers in their tracks. Rather than spending money frivolously, consumers began seeking out deals, using coupons and actively looking for the biggest bang for their buck. When the economy recovers, that behavior will not disappear immediately. Be prepared for the consumer focus on value to continue well beyond 2010, and build marketing campaigns with that consumer demand in mind.
- Show it, don't tell it.
Consumers don't believe everything they hear. Indeed, consumers are more skeptical than ever, and you need to prove your marketing claims. Don't just tell consumers about your product, business or services, show them what's in it for them if they pull out their hard-earned money and buy from you.
- Social media is not going away, and engagement is critical.
Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube, and other tools of the online social community are not going anywhere. Instead, these tools are being adopted by more and more people around the world. If you thought you could avoid joining the bandwagon, you were wrong. In 2010, it's critical that your business joins the social web conversation, and you must engage consumers on the social networking sites. Give them amazing content and interact with them to fully leverage the power of the social media.
- Peace-of-mind messages prevail.
Consumers have lived through a wide variety of negative events over the past several years, from economic turmoil to environmental disasters and more. They're actively seeking marketing messages that give them a feeling of peace of mind. Try to communicate a feeling of security in your marketing efforts to meet this need.
- Relationships rule.
With the growth of web-based social networks and a desire for transparency, trust and peace-of-mind messages, it shouldn't be surprising that relationships rule in 2010 and beyond. Leverage the social web to interact with people around the world and build relationships that wouldn't have been possible a decade ago. When you build relationships with consumers, you also build a band of brand loyalists that can become your most powerful source of word-of-mouth marketing, brand advocacy and brand guardianship.
- Online video and mobile marketing are hot.
Both online video and mobile marketing are set to explode, and we'll really start to see that happen in 2010. You can create your own online video content or mobile content, or you can invest in online video or mobile advertising. The choice is yours, but there is no better time to jump in than right now!
- Focus, focus, focus!
Don't try to be everything to everyone in 2010. The strongest brands are focused brands. As the first decade of the 21st century unfolded, marketers and social media professionals began using the term niche more and more to identify highly focused products, websites, blogs and so on. Today, that strategy is even more important. Build your core and keep it as strong as possible before you try to extend your brand and branch out into new areas.
- Integrated marketing trumps stand-alone tactics.
It is absolutely essential that you surround consumers with your marketing messages in 2010. The number of marketing communications that people see each day is overwhelming, so it's important that your messages don't get lost in the clutter. You can make your brand, your business and your messages stand out by surrounding consumers with branded experiences and allowing them to choose which of those experiences they want to consume. For example, use online advertising, online video, custom content, point-of-sale collateral, and ads with consistent messaging to engage consumers in different parts of their lives. If you're consistent and persistent, your messages are more likely to connect with your target audience--raising brand awareness, recognition, purchases and loyalty.