Predictions are never easy to make especially when the business that you have been in for 30 years plus is changing faster than you can comprehend, or changing faster than you can change.
No longer is the discussion in marketing circles about product, price, place or promotion. The entire lexicon has moved to a digital domain that you can either chose to embrace, or just simply get left behind. One thing is for sure, that over the next 5 years technology will become a part of the core fabric of marketing itself.
In the past week, we have had luminaries like Rana Barua, Ravpreet Ganesh, Nary Narayanswamy, Manoj Gupta, Pavita Puri and Pratap Bose writing in with their thoughts on what happened last year, and what exactly they foresee for the year ahead. Each one of their pieces was well written, and enlightening. My thanks to each of them for taking time out to share perspectives with us.
I have distilled some of the thoughts of my guest writers, and added some more of my own to create a Top 12 trends list for 2018. The indicators are all there. Directionally at least what I am saying for the year ahead will stay true. Newer trends I am not aware of may emerge. But this Dynamic Dozen will surely come alive in 2018.
Here is my Dynamic Dozen:
1. Integrating Marketing Activities with Customer Lifecycle Will be an Imperative in 2018
2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Will Surge in 2018
3. Live Video Will Soar in 2018
4. Mobile Video Consumption Will Grow in 2018
5. Customer Experience Marketing Will Increase in 2018
6. Content Marketing Will Become Even More Important in 2018
7. Voice Searches Will Continue to Grow in 2018
8. ‘Everywhere TV’ Will Gain Eyeballs in 2018
9. Strategic Social Media Will Gain New Followers in 2018
10. We’ll Be Marketing to Generation Z in 2018
11. Transparency Will Become Critical in 2018
12. The Digital World Will Continue to Go Hyperlocal in 2018
I will not elaborate on each one of the above as most of them are simple enough to understand. But some of the finest insights that I gleaned from my various readings was the simplicity with which Customer Lifecycle is being looked at by strategists. Look, for example, at the diagrams below:
Dave Chaffey published the above perspectives in an article in Smart Insights on 08 November, 2017. I love the simplicity of thought and the lucidity of presentation. The two diagrams in many ways explain and detail out the many fronts on which the new marketing war is being fought every day. The marketer, in the year ahead, will have to balance out between not just online and offline, but also figure out the touch points of paid media, owned media, earned media and experience. The behavioral continuum of Reach/Act/Convert and Engage has been beautifully mapped by Chaffey.
All of this led me to look at a really engaging depiction of the Lifecycle Communication for 2018. Put out by Holistic Marketing, using email as a tool, the diagram below very simply maps out how customers need to be engaged and re-engaged in a daily battle for their mind and their wallet.
Acquisition to Prospecting to Conversion to Retention to Winning Back are all realities in the interaction with the customer. In 2018, the smart marketer will play to a well defined and well documented course of action, so much so, that each action and next step would be part of an inviolable process. Actually, come to think of it, the essence of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence is also that when repeated acts are handled in a particular manner, they become part of the intelligence developed by the machine and incorporated into an algorithm that then follows the logic that has been learnt.
The tasks involved in marketing to consumers may have become more complex over the years, and will continue to be so in 2018 also. But at the heart of it, the battle for the consumer’s mind and heart is simply a game of …
2018 will be a year that belong to marketers and brands who will have both capability and copability. Whatever be the canvas, the marketer will have to learn and imbibe new tricks and refresh old ones. For example, since content marketing is becoming important, the game for tomorrow will be to create, co-create and curate content, all at the same time. Also tomorrow will be all about cultivation: of communities, of customers, of consumers and of causes.
I go into 2018 with the confidence that the marketer of today is savvy enough to learn to handle newer challenges. The basics have not changed, but technology has enforced a discipline which cannot be easily broken or played around with. The ultimate ambition of all brand building and communication is to wow the consumer. In 2018, this wow will just need much harder work.
With this we also conclude our year end series, 2017 – in the rear-view mirror; 2018 – on the windshield comes to a close.
Here is wishing all of you a great year ahead; a year of brand conquests and brand accolades; a year of brand building and brand growth.
(Sandeep Goyal has been 33 years in the advertising and media business. He has seen many sunrises and many sunsets. He thinks year-end assessments are good as a report card; year-beginning predictions are a good road map to new destinations.)