Larry Weber, author of “The Digital Marketer: Skills You Must Learn to Stay Relevant and Customer-Centric,” spoke yesterday at PAICR’s annual conference. His speech helped paint a clear picture of how marketing has evolved to where it is today, what does the modern-day marketer toolkit look like, and where is marketing going in the future. I found his “bold predictions” to be particularly interesting and, based on the facts and trends that he wrote about in his book, more believable than what you might hear elsewhere. Here are seven that stuck out in my mind:
- Over the next 5-7 years, there will not be a new technology company that “changes everything.” Weber claims that the two most disruptive companies in generations are Google and Amazon, and they have created platforms that new companies are spawning from. It’s not to say that new multi-billion-dollar companies won’t emerge, but that the level of disruption will be on a smaller scale. More Snapchats, fewer Facebooks.
- Closed, password-protected online communities will be a major trend going forward. This might seem counter-intuitive to the openness of what social networking has become, but Weber believes that the exclusive nature of groups, especially in the B2B space, allows people to feel more comfortable to share information.
- The future of social networking is micro-segmented communities. Along similar lines to #2, Weber predicts that social networks will increasingly allow segmentation for people to more easily find and share information. What we’re seeing with LinkedIn groups is a great example—so join more of them and create one for your space if it doesn’t exist yet, because it will.
- The biggest shift in marketing technology is providing context. The idea that a marketer can reach a person wherever they are is now commonplace—geolocation on a mobile device has ensured that. But making sure to provide content in the correct context becomes the key to successful sales interactions in the future. The challenge is no longer having customer information—that information exists in CRM. It’s about offering a relevant message or offer to a prospect at the right time in their buying journey. Marrying content with context is a challenge for B2C and B2B sales organizations alike.
- Digital loyalty and couponing will be a huge growth space in marketing technology. The power of social referral and harnessing existing goodwill of happy customers and fans of your brand is a place where Weber predicts there will be more innovation and technology. (Aside: we’re looking at Influitive right now as a word-of-mouth customer loyalty platform to tackle this exact issue, so I agree with this trend.)
- Blogging will be more, not less important. As the Internet splits into more micro-segments, the key voices will be the ones around which these segments are constructed. It’s not too late to start being an influencer, but you better start today…
- Paid acquisition will become a secondary, rather than the primary, channel for acquisition. Of the three channels of generating leads—earned, owned and paid—the latter has historically been the largest contributor to spending and marketing return. But paid advertising, whether on TV or search, is becoming increasingly expensive compared to the other forms of earned and owned media. Earned media, such as word-of-mouth, buzz, viral content (what we used to think of as PR) and owned media, like website, mobile and blog, are where marketing efforts are increasingly headed. Building an internal machine for creating content and distributing it will be the role of marketing leaders in the future. Producing low-cost two-minute YouTube videos should be happening 1-2 times per week, Weber says.
Time for all of us marketers to roll up our sleeves—there’s a lot more change coming our way and the price of high performance, as the data shows, has a material impact on the bottom line.