Evolving Marketing Strategies For 2015
Marketing strategies, like technological advancements, seem to emerge at the speed of light. Each season brings along a new standard for the field, setting the bar higher and higher from year to year. Looking towards 2015, expectations in marketing are not necessarily focused on new approaches but rather on the evolution of current marketing methods.
The most transparent companies are going to continue to be leaders when it comes to consumer loyalty. People like knowing what their favourite companies for, what kind of impact these companies have on the environment and how people the world over are reacting to the brand.
This will also hold true with businesses’ marketing strategies as well. Some see it as a radical approach to marketing—but if it works in other parts of the business, why not here? Avi Dan, Forbes contributor, says that this trend is something that few brands are currently taking advantage of, and that most will continue to fight the strategy.
“Next year the best brands won’t be those with the best stories, or sort of made up fictional stories, but those that will give an accurate and real time picture of what they are doing in the interest of the consumer, at any given time,” shared Dan.
CMOs, you may be getting a new title.
As the business landscape continues to grow more complex, companies apply that complexity to their business. But to increase optimisation and to again increase the free flow of ideas through the company, simplification is absolutely in order. Chief Marketing Officers could become Chief Simplifying Officers at your organisation, focused on making navigating the endless vertical silos as easy as possible.
This will be at the top of their agendas, as will integration of all elements of the company. Looking at the overall picture will aid in understanding the company’s overall value proposition and how messages and insights integrate across business units, geographies, and functional groups.
Amidst globalisation and companies reaching out further than ever before, it would be very easy for marketing to turn into a way to just appeal to the masses. But as businesses extend their reach, marketing is contracting—becoming more regionalised, localised, and personalised. No two consumers are alike, and consumers are smart enough to know this.
Small, local businesses to big corporations will find ways to incorporate personalisation into their marketing plans for 2015. Remember, personalisation is not a trend: it’s here to stay.
The Big One: Content Marketing
Content marketing not in your wheelhouse? It should be. Like the personalisation of marketing, content will continue to be king in this field for the foreseeable future. Content marketing forces your business and marketing team to understand its customers’ buying habits, behaviours and triggers, and craft relevant, informative and interesting content. Content marketing only ups the value of your product or service to your customer, and will hopefully drive them to take action that leads to buying what you are selling.
According to the B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks report from the Content Marketing Institute, 93 percent of B2B marketers used content marking in 2014, and nearly half thought the strategy was effective. The report is also predicting that marketing budgets that were previously geared towards search engine PPC, SEO and social media will find its way into content efforts.
It won’t be easy to stand out above the crowd though, so use that 2015 budget wisely. Focusing on case studies and research-intensive and quality content will guide your team in the right direction. Video content will be king. Mobile content will continue to be big, meaning short-form content—and learning how to convey your business’s message and culture in as few words as necessary—will be very important.
All that said there’s no one right way to approach content marketing. Australians are predicted to use fewer content marketing tactics than years previous. In 2014, social media content other than blogs, articles on the business’s website and e-newsletters were the top three tactics, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if this continued. Also in 2014, blog usage decreased 12 percent from 2013 and infographic usage increased by 18 percent. This may have something to do with the uptick in mobile content, as infographics are easy to read and understand at a glance, while blog posts take an investment of time, and could be difficult to read on a smaller mobile device.
Any way you spin it, marketing in 2015 will most likely see the continuing evolution of current successful strategies. Remember: your company’s mission statement and a clear, documented strategy will do wonders in the year ahead. Don’t be afraid to try something new, evolve and update your own marketing strategies and shift your budget around to make room for your new ideas.
Q&A: Professor Loredana Padurean, Asia School of Business
As someone who is creating Asia Pacific’s business leaders of the future, what do you believe are the essential skills leaders require?
In many ways, we need leaders who are Renaissance women/men or polymaths, as opposed to specialists of an industry or a field. A polymath is a person with profound knowledge, proficiency and expertise in multiple fields and today’s leaders have to be able to combine various ideas, look at problems in novel and useful ways, and develop a broad and yet still deep set of skills, talents, and knowledge.
You’ve coined ‘smart’ and ‘sharp’ as skills of the future. What are these?
They are replacements for ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills, a concept coined by a US Army doctor in 1972 who observed that his pupils had different skills: dealing with machinery required ‘hard’ skills, while dealing with people and paper were ‘soft’ skills. This concept has served us well since, but I find it too binary, not to mention the semantic implications of the words themselves.
Soft implies gentle, delicate, mild, quiet, tender, weak. However, there is nothing soft in navigating competing perspectives and cultures, handling and delivering critical feedback or dealing with office politics. Instead, I prefer to call these skills ‘smart’. Hard implies rigid, difficult, heavy, static. But how can we think of engineering or software development as static or rigid? I believe ‘sharp’ is more apt as such skills need constant updating or sharpening.
I think it’s time to reflect on these classifications, because we can drastically change someone’s perspective by how we choose to talk about and frame something.
How important are smart skills in leadership today?
Smart skills are more important than ever because we live in a world of extreme diversity: generational, ethical, value-based, gender, etc. Gone are the days when giving an order was an effective act of leadership. I personally work with people from five different continents and across five different generations, therefore as leaders, we need to know how to adapt, motivate, inspire and connect. We need to increase our investment in learning about them in action, especially as smart skills are more difficult to develop.
I believe that a successful leader today has to be both smart and sharp. Take cognitive readiness, one of my top 10 smart skills. In order to be cognitive ready, one has to master system dynamics, one of my top 10 sharp skills. Also, did you know that one of the primary reasons why digital transformation fails is not the absence of digital literacy, a sharp skill, but the need for more validation and adaptability, both smart skills. So, instead of thinking of these skills as binary, I prefer to think of them as the yin and yang; co-existing and complementing each other.
So, you can teach leaders smart skills then?
Yes, you can, via a combination of the classroom experience, plus an action component supported by deeply embedded reflection. At ASB we call this Action Learning, and we teach it both in the MBA and in the executive programs. For example, in teaching a leader emotional maturity as a smart skill, first they need to learn what it is, and then act on it, before reflecting on what we did and how we did it. And then to repeat it, but this time with more expertise and awareness. It’s not easy, but that’s why my favourite mantra is ‘the job is easy, the people are not’.
Discover Professor Padurean's successful skills for a digital transformation here