Considering the exponential leaps in technology that have kept our jaws gaping over the past few years, the future of marketing may seem like it’s already here. But, according to leading marketing experts, some of the biggest shifts in marketing since the dawn of television advertising over 60 years ago are yet to come. Here are just some of the emerging megatrends that will redefine marketing:
- Immersive Connectivity: The Internet of Things (IoT) will provide connection to objects we’d have no earthly reason to believe connectable, like clothing and animals – without the use of a computer. By 2024, over a trillion sensors are expected to provide data streams from every imaginable surface and product. Whether we’re in our living rooms or taking a stroll in the park, we’ll have real-time, interactive media experiences – augmented reality – literally at our fingertips. (We’re talking way beyond “Pokemon Go” into almost unimaginable possibilities.) This access works in reverse for the marketers creating these experiences, as all that Big Data will provide them with instantaneous analysis and razor-sharp insights into consumer behavior.
- Audience Participation: Marketing pioneer Daina Middleton maintains that now is the “Golden Age of Marketing,” one in which people want to interact with a brand the same way they interact with people. No longer are consumers passive recipients of marketing messages; they can now weigh in on brands through multiple platforms, sharing their opinions and experiences – good, bad or indifferent – and they expect reciprocal loyalty, even perks, from the brands with which they engage. Audience engagement is sparked by informative – not controlling – messages that increase one’s perception of autonomy, and the media channels that allow active participation in a purchasing decision empower people to build a brand up, or tear it down.
- Prosumer Experiences: Marketing guru Jon Wuebben explains that the “prosumer” is the new customer, enabled by technology to be researcher, product designer, reviewer, editor and, in some cases, expert. As such, they want experiences (particularly the sought-after Millennials), not just goods and services. Consider how big the celebration culture has become. From college embarkment to marriage proposals, destination weddings and prenatal gender reveal parties, life’s moments (even the small ones) have turned monumentally experiential. Heck, a 12-year-old can’t ask someone to the gym dance anymore without a creative way to do it and a big production. Regardless of why this has become the norm, whether because of advancing technology, greater creative competition or sheer economic privilege, it is certain that modern marketers must provide prosumers with multi-sensory experiences across all media.
- (Truly) Awesome Analytics: We mentioned Big Data in the realm of augmented reality and the Internet of Things, but what will all that massive computation really mean for marketing? In addition to significant time and cost efficiency, heightened analytics will allow marketers instantaneous sales and consumer data, smarter CRM, predictive social media, hugely improved click-through rates, niche marketing insights, greater personalization, deeper understanding of the attitudes and intrinsic human desires that motivate highly targeted audiences and, yes, a whole lot more.
- Be the Future, Today: Feeling a little daunted? While the future will be here before we know it, experts identify mini-trends that marketers can embrace now:
Video: Except for you, dear reader, people are reading less and less. Marketers across the board agree that video has the singular power to engage big in a small amount of time (keep it short!), not only telling audiences who you are, and why they should care, but showing them in visually compelling ways.
Niche marketing: Now more than ever, people are seeking information they can trust from experts with demonstrated experience in a specific area. Businesses and organizations are increasingly turning to specialists for informed insight and substantive content.
Personalized content: Like personal relationships, lasting customer relationships thrive on understanding and responsiveness. Today’s technological tools allow marketers to reach individuals from the perspective of who and where they are, when and how they are there, addressing their unique needs, preferences, interests, and motives.
Don’t abandon what works: Like Dorothy at the end The Wizard of Oz, sometimes we look too hard for a “magical” solution, when we’ve had it all along. Research shows that direct mail remains a robust marketing tool, as does public relations and (it almost goes without saying) a killer website.
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