There is simply no way to predict exactly what will play out in the 2017 World of Marketing—we have a ton of exciting opportunities and things to look forward to—but we’ve researched and studied enough to foresee the Top 10 tools your company should have ready, the moment the ball drops in Times Square and Auld Lang Syne echoes across the room.
1. BE CUSTOMER-CENTRIC
The bigger your business, the more diverse your customer base. It’s just the way the world works. And this coming year will require extra focus on catering your message and experience to each group. Use your detailed data (or invest in some) to help identify your groups and develop a plan to strategically target them accordingly. Otherwise you risk alienation of some of your most loyal followers. And NOBODY wants anything to do with that.
2. MAKE IT PERSONAL
From Coca-Cola cans; to Nike shoes; to M&M’s; to the moon and back again, everything will be about making it “mine” in 2017. If your business allows any opportunity for completely customized products or services, launch that offering faster than the speed of light. Or faster, if you can manage that.
3. CHAT IT UP WITH CHATBOTS
We need this one to be really LOUD and clear. *grabbing megaphone* USE technology to enable better customer service on your website. Eventually you may need to staff up on this end so as to answer your visitor’s complicated questions in a more personalized and detailed manner, but start with a Chatbot. Why? First, more than half of consumers (50.6 to be precise) believe a business should respond to their queries 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Read more on that here.
4. DON’T BE A SOCIAL MEDIA PAIN IN THE—YOU KNOW
Seriously, stop blasting s*&t. There’s too much of that going around and not enough quality content that speaks to consumers. Also, don’t be on EVERY social media channel just because you can. With dozens of social platforms to choose from, make sure you know the channels that will be the most effective for your business. Example, let’s pretend you owned a toddler clothing company. Q: Do you know which channels you should be on? A: Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest of course! Because, based on research, that’s where the majority of people in their mid-twenties and thirties are hanging these days. Have an informed social media strategy, focused on the correct channels and share worthwhile content.
5. LOOK LIKE YOU BELONG THERE
Native Advertising doesn’t disrupt the user experience, which is a VERY good thing. In fact, it’s often difficult to tell whether it’s advertising at all. This concept of “native advertising” is still a really fuzzy idea for most companies so we’re gonna break it down just a tiny bit: A native ad should fit the look / feel of the print publication or site seamlessly. It can be a sponsored post, a single-sponsor issue, branded content and much more. Make sure that Native Advertising is part of your 2017 media buy. If not, re-evaluate your buy ASAP.
6. MAKE MORE VIDEOS
2016 was a full on video revolution for marketers as 61% of businesses incorporated video into their brand experience. Not only does it help your Google search rankings—Google LOVES video—but it engages your audience in a way very few other mediums have. The modern consumer wants to see your product or service in-action and they’re becoming more accustomed to video as a means to do so. Invest in quality video production and creative direction to make the most of this 2017 must-have. Companies that fail to incorporate video will be left to the wayside.
7. GO LIVE OR GO HOME
Live streaming is still, very much, in its infancy. But expect it to make a big boom in 2017. New platforms, faster connection speeds, bigger data plans and advancements in live stream technology will have many brands wanting to test new products in the space. While the Grammy Awards live stream (earlier this year) was a miss, Twitter’s Thursday Night Football saw some initial success with 243,000 people per minute streaming the game via Twitter. Small businesses can use the power of Facebook Live to stream Q&A’s, Tutorials, Product Launches, Weekly Advice Sessions, etc.
8. LET’S GET PHYGITAL
With the success of Pokémon Go (how many of you still have this on your phone?) in 2016, everyday Virtual Reality became REAL. AR and VR crossed the digital-physical boundary and as a result more brands will steadily begin merging offline with online experiences. It’s quite the hefty undertaking—from a tech perspective—but it’s good to have on your radar. A good example of this Marketing Medium is Lowe’s new app Lowe’s Vision. It allows customers to visualize how new floorings, fixtures and furnishings will appear in their actual living rooms. Wait until this trend is adopted by fashion brands… you’ll essentially have a customized and epic closet system owned by character Cher Horowitz, in 90’s cult-classic CLUELESS. Finally.
9. EMBRACE THE PAST
While Millennials are taking #kidulting to the next level, research is showing that the majority of consumers are following the same trend. A psychologic phenomenon called the “reminiscence bump” leads adults of all ages to remember with great clarity and fondness the years of their own youth. Even if those years weren’t so great. Conjuring nostalgia in your marketing efforts will be a great activator in 2017, whether it be by re-introducing old products or speaking to the past. There’s something a little magical in the past for us all. See: Nintendo’s recent move.
10. KNOW WHO YOU ARE
We may have accidentally saved the best advice for last. Going in to the New Year, one of the smartest things you could possibly do is refer back to your brand beliefs and core values. (You should be able to find these in your company Brand Book.) Without doubt, there will likely come a time where you’ll need to stand firmly by these and take an actionable stand. Our advice: don’t be afraid to do so. In 2017, consumers will appreciate the honesty like never before and you may even find that honesty & stance attract new consumers to your brand.
We wish you the brightest and most successful New Year, and we’re here to help make that possible. Give us a ring.