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Five Marketing Trends That Only a CMO Contemplating Career Suicide Would Ignore

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In this article, you'll learn...

  • Five digital marketing trends you can't afford to ignore
  • How to adapt your marketing efforts to customers' behavior

Marketing is changing and evolving at a rapid pace. To keep up, chief marketing officers (CMOs) need to consistently look into their crystal ball to keep their companies in the spotlight—and ahead of the competition.

Here are five major changes taking shape in 2012 that only a CMO willing to commit career suicide would ignore.

1. A Return to Strategy

The marketing world has been abuzz about every possible digital marketing tactic in the book, including mobile couponing, augmented reality, and real-time bidding by digital media exchanges. Many CMOs become entranced by those bright and shiny digital marketing options. However, the smartest CMOs understand that tactics come and go, and those CMOs are going to be the ones leading a movement back to strategy.

Focus on the right strategy, and you'll develop a winning marketing formula. Look at successful companies such as Apple, Procter & Gamble, and Nordstrom. Their clear strategies get real business results—regardless of the tactics they employ at any given moment.

One national food brand invested in every imaginable new marketing tactic to drive traffic to its website. However, the site experience was so out of sync with what site visitors wanted that they never returned. (Analytics showed a dismal 1:1 visit-to-visitor ratio for the brand's site.) Consequently, the company's marketing campaigns delivered a bad brand experience, doing more damage than good. Ironically, as the company implemented more tactics, it did more damage.

Instead, the food brand needed to thrill customers and prospects by showing—on its site, in its ads, and at the supermarket—how it helped them achieve their goals. And that starts with a clear strategy. Follow the lead of companies like Apple: Unlock what thrills your customers, and your tactics will be much more effective.

2. Channel Integration

Once you've nailed the strategy, it's time to integrate, integrate, integrate.

Today, we talk about mobile, social, search, video, email, and display marketing as if they're in silos. In 2012, expect to see massive integration of those areas. Consider the mom market, for example. Moms are completely social, mobile, and local. Their lives, though, are not just "mobile" or "social" or "local." They're all of those things, all the time.

If you're trying to get moms to purchase your brand of kids' shampoo, for example, clarify how you're going to make their lives easier, simpler, and better. You don't necessarily need to "be social" and get them to "Like" your Facebook page. Rather, you need to demonstrate how you'll solve their problems. Period. Are you less expensive? Can your shampoo clean icky, sticky gunk out of kids' hair?

Sure, use social, mobile, and local platforms to explain how you'll solve their problems, but don't stop there. Solve their problems via your website and parenting and partner sites. Use every possible customer touch point, and moms will love you, not just "Like" you.

3. Vertical Integration

Every industry has its favorite marketing "Hot List," which typically comprises piecemeal items. In 2012, we're going to see more comprehensive vertical solutions rather than individual tools.

For example, within the real estate market is a great deal of excitement surrounding Facebook, Twitter, Trulia, Zillow, Google Places, Foursquare, and other tools. But realtors have hectic schedules and lack the time to manage those individual platforms, and they need solutions that go beyond mere property-listing syndication. They need to be able to integrate their marketing with supply-side lead capture, buyer-side lead capture, and customer-relationship-management activities.

Expect the rate of vertical-specific integration to accelerate, making it easier and more effective for professionals across a range of industries to generate results via streamlined digital marketing initiatives.

4. Offline-Online Integration

When was the last time you walked into a store and people around you weren't holding smartphones? Years ago, right?

Get ready. You're going to need to understand that each customer's day is a zig-zag experience through the online and offline worlds. Customers no longer have simply offline or simply online experiences; they have integrated brand experiences.

In the future, you should assume that customers will be checking their smartphones while in your store and that they'll be reading print magazines in hardcopy and on their laptops or tablets. You should expect that your billboard will lead prospective customers to the destination website, Facebook page, or customized QR code experience.

But offline-online integration requires consistency. For example, a Fortune 500 retailer was conducting its holiday marketing campaign with different messaging and promotions in every marketing channel, including its website, community site, social properties, online display ads, weekly circulars, TV ads, email blasts, and in-store displays. But customers were experiencing a disconnect. The different messages in each marketing vehicle confused consumers.

It's not surprising that the retailer can't seem to produce breakout results even though it has the financial resources to do so: After all, it's not using proper marketing integration.

In 2012, those that effectively integrate offline and online will reap the most significant marketing gains.

5. Multiplatform Marketing

Today, when segmenting, as marketers we look at smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. Every day we see more articles about a cool new mobile or iPad campaign. That's so 2011. The reality is that we're already a multiplatform society. Many of us use a smartphone and a laptop concurrently, or a smartphone and a tablet, or a tablet and a desktop.

Some 86% of mobile Internet users are using their mobile devices while watching TV. During this year's Super Bowl and Grammy Awards, 17,000 tweets were generated per minute. It's not that digital marketing in 2012 will need to factor in the multiscreen experience. Digital marketing in 2012 will need to be a multiscreen experience.

* * *

Get ready for the future of marketing, and get your strategic, integrated, multiplatform marketing plans in shape. The digital landscape is changing fast, and the insightful CMOs who adapt their marketing efforts to those changes will be successful in 2012.

(Image courtesy of Bigstock, Woman Walking.)

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Tom Shapiro is the CEO of Stratabeat, a branding and marketing agency. He is also the author of Rethink Your Marketing: 7 Strategies to Unleash Revenue Growth.

Twitter: @tomshapiro

LinkedIn: Tom Shapiro

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  • by Addie Palin Mon Nov 7, 2011 via web

    This article does a great job of capturing all of the complexities that a marketer faces today. Navigating that landscape definitely starts with strategy--but strategy can't be abandoned as soon as it's determined.

    With so many different channels to address, marketers often with more than one partner in order to execute their campaigns--be they agencies, digital partners, promotional partners, etc. It's the CMO's responsibility to ensure that every single partner, no matter how shallow their role may be, understands the larger strategy and how it affects their output.

    As an agency, we are often working side-by-side with our clients to set strategy and develop the subsequent creative campaign. We respect, and even embrace, our clients' need to engage other partners to ensure the best possible execution. But it pains us to see--and we see it all too often--a lack of communication about the core campaign strategy to those partners, resulting in many of the disjointed customer experiences mentioned above.

  • by Ian Henderson Mon Nov 7, 2011 via web

    Another technology coming up in popularity is QR codes. But again, they only are effective when used as part of a strategy and deliver quality content. As every on the web, quality content is king. Thank you for a really good article.

  • by Ken Mon Nov 7, 2011 via web

    This is the type of old content cluttering the internet. This stuff is 30 years old, actually older -- back to the late 50s on Madison Avenue. Adding the word "mobile" or phrase "social media" doesn't present new thinking. If this is intended for recent graduates, then it's helpful.

  • by Gordon Plutsky Mon Nov 7, 2011 via web

    Very nice article. Many marketers lose sight of strategic objectives and get lost in tactics and jumping on whatever new wave is the flavor of the month. Also, good point on multichannel marketing and online/offline integration - no consumer ever makes a decision based on only one media platform or type of content.

  • by Howie at Sky Pulse Media Tue Nov 8, 2011 via web

    Many valid points here. But the biggest is CMO beware. Advertising and Marketing Agencies make their money convincing you to spend money with them whether it is a good idea or not. They do not make more by helping you be smarter. Quite the opposite.

  • by Michael Baer Tue Nov 8, 2011 via web

    To me, it's not a "return to strategy" (although having a strategic foundation is important), it's a merger of strategy and brilliant execution that I call "stratecution". Smart, creative, business-driving strategy that nails execution across channels and drives the right consumer behaviors/actions. Check out my blog:

  • by Tom Shapiro Wed Nov 9, 2011 via web

    Many thanks, everyone, for all of your comments and feedback. Greatly appreciated!

    Addie - Thank you for your comments. Totally agree with you that partner integration is critical for the success of any marketing strategy.

    Ian - Thanks. Agreed that QR Codes are popular now among certain marketers. Consumer usage numbers are still relatively low, but we'll see how it all takes shape moving forward. And agreed that QR Codes, like any tactic, need to map to an overarching, effective strategy.

    Gordon - Thanks for your comments. Yes, agreed, multichannel marketing and online/offline integration are absolutely critical now.

    Howie - Many thanks for your input. Great point about the need to help clients become smarter. Good marketing agencies do that.

    Michael - Thanks for your comments. Love the idea of "stratecution". Great stuff. Thanks.

  • by Jan Wed Nov 9, 2011 via web

    Good article and should be mandatory reading for any marketing student. Same message that’s been in marketing for eons, but now we have the thrill of multi-platforms. Like the word "stratecution" but would rather use “syncecution” because if we don’t sync up the central strategical message across all platforms, it’s just a waste of time and money for everyone.

  • by Misty Young Fri Nov 11, 2011 via web

    Great article. I'd love to see several one sentence definitions of strategy - not the dictionary version, YOUR versions. Ready, set, go:

  • by Bob Sanders Wed May 30, 2012 via web

    Good overview of the changes, but doesn't this require that marketing structures change as well?

    Simply adding new layers and titles isn’t enough anymore. Just as the advent of television created the need for whole new structures, the challenges will drive change throughout the traditional marketing arena, including traditional roles and responsibilities.

    The role of leadership is to help create the vision and to make it happen. If this means changing the structure, roles, responsibilities to best take advantage of this then so be it.

    I wrote about this here:

    Bob Sanders

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