New year, but back to basics? Marketing strategy in 2016
Every year around this time, it seems like we see a multitude of articles that cover marketing and branching challenges in today’s world. For example, in a recent Forbes article, Daniel Newman discusses how marketers need to appeal to the changing needs of an increasingly diverse, fragmented, and impatient population by utilizing big data, mobile and video technology.
A quick Google search reveals many articles and blogs with the same message. It may be a new year, but it seems like the same message as last year (and the year before that). Consumers are more diverse in today’s world, and therefore, your marketing strategy needs to meet this complexity. Marketing strategy must be innovative and technical — otherwise it will fail in today’s marketplace.
While there are certainly some great ideas in these articles, I question the overall message. The methods we use to market products is certainly different from 20 years ago, but I am not sure that the overall strategy has really changed that much. In many ways, successful marketing in 2016 seems more deeply rooted in simplicity and the basics than ever before.
1. Importance of the human touch — Concep.com called ultra-personalization an emerging trend back in 2013, and the concept has continued to expand since then. Websites spend more time asking for information about consumers, in order to make better product recommendations. Financial services firms are starting to offer chat functions, in order to provide higher quality customer service. The use of video has started to increase as well. While these strategies appear shiny and new, it seems they are simply a movement back to something more fundamental – the importance of human relationships. Marketing has always been about interacting with people in a meaningful way. The use of ultra-personalization is simply a further movement toward human connection. The bells and whistles may be new, but the concept is not. Establishing a connection with someone is key to selling them a better product or service.
2. Credibility of the not credible — Credible businesses are dabbling more and more in social media due to its increased popularity. According to Jeff Bullas, 72 percent of all Internet users are active on social media. As a result, 78 percent of US companies now have dedicated social media teams.
This increase would seem to indicate that consumers are deriving more value from social media than ever before. The willingness of companies to play in this space also is taking these previously unreliable sources of information, like Twitter and Facebook, and making them credible. While the popularity of social media seems baffling on the surface, it may point to something that marketers have always known. Specifically, people like to hear the unfiltered opinions of others, even if they have to make judgments as to the merits of these opinions themselves. People don’t want to hear a sales pitch, they want to hear people’s viewpoints and stories about the product or service they are contemplating purchasing. Is this really news?
3. Looks matter — Many marketers have touted the importance of good website content within a company’s overall marketing mix. In a recent survey by NewsCred, 53 percent of marketers ranked content creation as the single most effective SEO tactic. There can be no doubt that solid content helps a website acquire and maintain visitors. However, nearly half of people say website design is their number one criterion for determining a company’s credibility. This would seem to represent a disconnect between marketers and consumers. Consumers want good content, but they want a slick looking website as well. The storefront is still important to the consumer, whether they’re patronizing a brick-and-mortar building or a website.
This is not to say that marketing has not changed at all, or that we should not pay attention to new marketing tools. Rather, it is simply meant as a word of caution to businesses that they should not overlook the forest for the trees, or become overwhelmed by hyped discussions about vast consumer taste changes. New marketing tools will come and go, but good marketing strategy may not be vastly different from what it has been previously. Connecting with people, realizing that they value honesty, and providing a good-looking storefront are still keys to success in 2016 and the years ahead.
David Peters, CPA, is the strategic relationship manager and financial adviser for Carroll Financial Inc., in Charlotte, N.C. He is a member of the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA). Contact him at [email protected]. Website: www.carrollfinancial.com.
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