The Hottest Marketing Trends for 2008 Learn about the hottest new marketing trends plus the best ways to increase sales in 2008.

By Kim T. Gordon

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Marketers nationwide are setting their plans in motion for 2008. Big-name brands will embrace new technologies and adjust their budgets in some surprising ways. And as an entrepreneur, you can use some of these tactics to reach your own audience in the coming year.

In 2008, you can expect major marketing trends to include:

A shift from traditional to "alternative" media
Advertising in newspapers and magazines, and on radio and TV will continue to be marketing staples, but spending in new media will show the biggest growth as advertisers move money into online, mobile and alternative out-of-home advertising. Many marketers are finding alternative media the best way to reach audiences effectively and to yield a measurable ROI. A communications industry forecast published by Veronis Suhler Stevenson predicts alternative advertising spending will increase more than 23 percent from 2006 to 2011, while traditional advertising will have a compound annual growth rate of just over 1 percent.

A growth spurt for interactive marketing
Interactive marketing spending will more than triple over the next five years, reaching $61 billion by 2012, according to Forrester Research. To put this into context, interactive marketing, which currently accounts for just 8 percent of all ad spending, will increase to 18 percent of marketers' total advertising budgets in five years.

Interactive encompasses new marketing channels such as e-mail and search marketing, online video ads and social media. Mobile marketing, also a form of interactive media, is getting hotter as consumers become increasingly comfortable using personal computing handsets. Other emerging channels, including game marketing, podcasts and RSS feeds, will claim increasingly larger shares of marketers' budgets.

More off-line support for online campaigns
Here's where the value of advertising synergy hits home. In 2008 and beyond, the trend toward using off-line media to drive customers to the web will continue and pick up speed. Traditional media are increasingly relied on to support new interactive campaigns. Display advertising, in particular, will be the workhorse that Forrester Research predicts will reach $14 billion by 2012.

TV is another traditional advertising medium that will increasingly be used to pique consumer interest and point prospects to a website where they can find more in-depth information. Once there, entertaining online video ads may be used to tell a longer, more involved story. Consumer adoption of online video is growing, and most age groups are expected to step up its use in 2008.

Taking Advantage of the Trends
In 2008, the major marketers who set the trends will help consumers adopt new media consumption methods. And they'll pave the way for small business owners to follow suit without the risk or heavy financial outlay.

Here are four ways to increase sales and your advertising ROI by capitalizing on the hottest trends for 2008.

1. Engage the customer. The move toward alternative advertising versus some of the more traditional methods coincides with the emergence of technologies that enable a one-on-one dialogue with customers. For example, follow the trend of social media by posting your products on sites that encourage customer or peer reviews. Social media add an element of impartiality and are increasingly looked to as reliable sources of information.

2. Integrate your off-line and online campaigns. Look for ways to use off-line media to drive traffic to a website with specialized landing pages that tell a deeper story. Use print and TV ads to start the customer education process and direct potential buyers online to learn more and take the next steps in the purchase process. And direct an e-mail campaign to your current customer database to offset the cost of direct mail. Simply alternate e-mail and postal mail for a cost-effective one-two punch.

3. Move some off-line dollars online. Online advertising now offers a strong alternative to some traditional media, such as print yellow pages. Consider moving some of your traditional directory advertising dollars into online directories and search engines. The vast majority of Americans research their products online before making purchases, so a paid search campaign is an ideal way to make sure you turn up at the top of search results.

4. Follow your customer. Alternative out-of-home advertising opportunities let you place your message wherever your customers go. You can put your name and company logo on the umbrellas used by urban street vendors, or name hiking trails in wilderness areas. The key to using these new opportunities effectively is to place your message where it will appear in the proper context and reach your potential customers when they are in the right frame of mind.

The new year comes full of high-return marketing opportunities. By closely watching the hottest trends, you can make smart choices that let you step ahead of your slower-moving competitors.

Kim Gordon is the owner of National Marketing Federation and is a multifaceted marketing expert, speaker, author and media spokesperson. Her latest book is Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars.

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