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“It’s all about protecting and nurturing the brand”

Writing this post made me think of R.E.M.’s hit song.  Yes, things are a bit crazy but this is also an exciting time for marketing professionals.  As we start the New Year, we find the barometer for “change” ratcheted up a few dozen notches.   So, here’s my list.  Feel free to add some of yours.

1.    Social Media Tool Explosion and ROI.  Marketers will accelerate efforts to identify, leverage and measure the results of social media marketing.  Faced with opportunity and great tools (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs) companies will create task forces and teams to brainstorm, investigate, leverage and launch new ways to generate revenue and satisfy customers.   Engagement, interactions, Tweets, Likes, and earned media all count.  In 2011, it’s more about measuring the true value of social media.   Marketers will start to make social media a part of their everyday life.
Advice:  ROI?  What is the “return on ignoring”?

2.    Social Media Integration.  Social media will start to be integrated into the entire enterprise including crisis management.   Understanding the abundance of new opportunities out there and connecting all the dots is what’s important.  The relevant “dots” are all of the key customer touch points.
Advice:  Integrate or disintegrate

3.   Brand Monitoring —  from the fringe to the fast track.    This year, we’ll see more focus on improving and reinforcing the brand in social media.  Marketers need to gain a better understanding by listening and learning about what customers and prospects think about their brands.  Many social media monitoring tools exist but most companies need to focus on developing business processes, social media guidelines and to glean insights from such monitoring activities.
Advice: Listen, engage, measure = succeed

4.    Multicultural Marketing Communication Explodes.  The best marketers truly understand that the U.S. has become more culturally diverse.  Marketers must be more sensitive to society’s demographic shifts and changing values, which in turn affect consumers’ reactions to different products and marketing practices.  In 2011, marketers will focus on understanding the needs of multicultural markets, developing powerful brand stories and messages to attract and engage these markets.
Advice:   Huge brand and sales opportunity

5.    Building Longer Term Customer Relationships.   Terms like CLV (customer lifetime value) will gain popularity as marketers come to fully understand the value of acquiring and retaining high value customers.  Sales are no longer viewed as transactions –  each sale is the first step in a carefully orchestrated process to convert sales into lifetime customers.  In 2011, marketers will not invest in what’s cool, they’ll invest in opportunities to build relationships.
Advice:  Retention is far less expensive than acquisition

6.    “Marketing Technologist” role becomes even more critical.   We predict that more marketers will understand the importance of forming a closer partnership between marketing and I.T. to build technology that meets customer needs and works.   The “marketing technologist” must understand the ever-expanding onslaught of technology  —  now.
Advice:  Start moving in this direction

7.   Mobile Marketing, Shopping and Telecom in General Goes Bonkers.    Apps and Web browsing start to explode, Skype goes public and a major player like Google buys them.  Apple’s FaceTime becomes widely popular as the way to have a conversation.  In 2011, marketers start to invest in more ways to reach the growing millions of smart phone users.   Digital researcher eMarketer (Dec. 2, 2010) tells us that “2010 is proving to be the first year for widespread mobile shopping.  Consumers in greater numbers are using their mobile devices to assist in-store shopping, from browsing retailer websites to scanning barcodes to get product and price comparison information, to checking in to search for deals.”
Advice:  Here we go, Verizon to announce iPhone this week!

8.   Consumers are in Control (to Stay).  Consumers who are accustomed to passively accepting a daily dose of TV and print ads will reject this outdated model and choose the media they want to consume.  Much to the dismay of traditional ad agencies, social networks will not go away.  From Twitter to blogs to Facebook, consumers are in control and this trend is red hot.
Advice: Inbound marketing beats outbound marketing

9.    LinkedIn cements its lead in the business networking space.  LinkedIn is your single source for maintaining, keeping and getting a job.  Invaluable in a bad (or good) economy.  It is hard to think of LinkedIn in the same space as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.  Read:  Why LinkedIn is the social network that will never die.  LinkedIn is for the professional side of all of us – and it is the business networking tool for our complicated, competitive, ever-changing world.
Advice:  Invest time in LinkedIn

10.    Marketers Will Really Leverage Ad Agency Creativity.  For too long marketers have looked to their agencies for advertising and campaign ideas — only.  In 2011, marketers will wake up to the fact that agencies employ some of the best “all around” creative talent in the world.  Why shouldn’t ad agencies be involved in deeper aspects of the client’s business from new product development to strategic planning?  Also, the quest for the “Big Idea” will be as important as ever but will manifest itself across a number of smaller social media projects from Twitter to Facebook to blogs.  Marketers will look to agencies to leverage creative skills beyond the production of ads.
Advice:  Win/win

11.    QR (Quick Response codes).  Those funny looking squares (mainstream in Japan) are starting to appear in the U.S. on everything from print vehicles to business cards.  The proliferation of smart phones will help QR codes make an impact on the print world and may even help to revive the downward trend for physical newspapers.

And guess what?  QR codes can be tracked.  Companies like Verizon and AT&T will make reading QR codes so easy you won’t even need to download a special app on your phone.  Interactive print ads.  Imagine that.
Advice:   Now, there’s even hope Rover will get his job back fetching the newspaper on the front lawn.

[Please note: This is a re-post of an original MENG Blend Blog post.]
R.E.M. – It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) lyrics are the property and copyright of their owners.

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