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Ten marketing trends to stay above water in 2015

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Trends a very much like high tide – they come at you before you have a chance to prepare for them. BEN WAGNER outlines 10 marketing trends that he believes we will see in 2015.

Trends are a bit like spending a dreamy, sunny day at the beach. The next thing you know you have a drenched towel and phone. High tide and trends work like that.

Here are 10 things you need to know before the water hits you in 2015.

1. Power of brand individual

People are their own brands and as such stand for a point of view and attach value/values to themselves. Often that runs counter to the experience they receive from corporate brands. A spate of recent examples from Cell C vs George Prokas and Nico Niemand vs FNB (www.rottenbank.co.za) to Emmerentia and Monica Liebenberg vs ABSA all have shown how the individual has taken on and won against major corporates. Precedent has been set in a legal context and I can see that many more will be encouraged to find allies against corporate bullies who try pull a fast one. Marketers who ignore the power of one and try strong arm through legal channels, without attempting to solve the issue through one-to-one interaction, will do so at their peril.

2. Purpose, purpose, purpose

Marketers simply have to recognise that the world is changing fast. Brands that are looking at meaningful engagement with their customers have to move beyond the shallow limits of price and promotion. Purpose has to be embedded organically into marketing communication and needs to be supported by rigorous delivery on customer experience within every touchpoint.

3. Mobile first and only

The rampant and sometimes overstated rise of mobile is no longer in question. The data is overwhelmingly in mobiles favour, with marketers needing to make some crucial decisions on how to design for mobile first and in some instances only. Sloppy UX will be punished and consumers will simply vote with horrible bounce rates.

4. Wear me out

The hype and buzz about wearables is staggering. Recent news that Google Glass had been shelved to the point that Larry was leaving them in his car, gave some pause to the silliness that would invariably envelop us down the track. Thankfully wearables will actually hold some future benefit beyond weird looking eyewear and a multitude of industries, from medical to manufacturing, will stand to benefit. This will naturally increase the amount of data points, given the connectedness of objects, gadgets and particles, which will give data-smart marketers valuable information to expand their brand interaction.

5. Push & Pull of Content

Like the ocean metaphor earlier, content too will operate like the ebbing and flowing tide. Brands will be looking at becoming publishers, attempting to deepen their engagement and rid themselves of the awful conversion rates that online advertising has been touting for too long. The challenge will come in managing multiple creative formats and getting a cohesive brand narration across with limited resources, while ensuring call to action and the generation of moolah, of course. Some brands may take larger risks by investing in struggling traditional publishers and converting them into native advertising producers.

6. “Moneyball moment

One of the best quotes coming out of this year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity was by Jordan Bitterman, who described that advertising had reached its “Moneyball moment.”In short, the maths needs to support the magic. Marketers who are most adept at becoming data practitioners will hit the most home runs.

One of the best examples of this is AllThingsHair.com which shows how Unilever has worked extensively with Google to map hair research data and determine new trends in styling ahead of its competitors. By doing this Unilever has tapped into a highly-engaged community that will reward the brand through product purchase and advocacy.

7. Cash inside your phone

Cashless payment options are flourishing in South Africa as a result of crime as well as the fascinating socio-economic context that makes up a portion of our workforce. What will be of major interest to marketers is whether this propensity for mobile payments will kickstart m-commerce in South Africa, which has been slow out of the gates so far.

8. Social Media matures

As marketers watch their engagement rates plummet, brands will seriously consider on-domain branded communities, not only for better results, but also to drive consistent engagement across the customer life cycle. Platforms such as Lithium.com that offer an end-to-end social brand solution will grow in uptake as marketers try gain tighter returns in social.

9. Half-baked cakes

Marketers are typically governed by fear which leads to onerous checks and balances being in place, often at the expense of work reaching the market in the “sweetspot” moment or at a particular point in culture. Globally brands such as Beats by Dr Dre have shown that by moving at the “speed of culture”, significant advantage can be gained in being “first to comment” on pop trends. Brands need to borrow from the world of start-ups by allowing campaigns to be in a state of “beta” and remaining agile in responding to consumer sentiment.

10. There’s a saxophonist in your soup

Marketers have to become ambidextrous. Beyond supporting sound strategic and creative thinking, marketers need to become masters of orchestrating multiple partners. From internal stakeholders (corp speak for roadblocks), such as IT and Ops, through to communications agencies, as well as specialist experts. Those who do this best will not only gain the benefit of a cohesive marketing execution but will also get the best from their agency partners, who ultimately will buy-in through great work and a trusting partnership.

* Ben Wagner, Head of NATIVE VML Cape Town

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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