Each day, I’m sent hundreds of trend reports from around the world and, to save you the trouble of reading them all yourself, I’ve put together a list of trends that I track and will be monitoring throughout 2016.
Data as the driver of real-time strategy. Today, data is not the sole purview of direct marketing. Now, all marketing is driven by data, information that describes all aspects of your market relevant to your brand. Every strategy must have good data at its core in order to be implementable, actionable, measurable and successful.
The business of the future will be data-driven. To realise the full profit potential of your database and your market, you need to leverage all the information you have about your customers at your disposal, including:
Behaviour, channel preferences and usage patterns.
Each segment’s specific product and services usage.
Technology adoption and automation.
Lifestyle, life-stage and revenue-cycle behaviour.
Your own trend data criteria.
Customer buying journey and mapping. Professional customers research before making any purchase. So, our goal is no longer to drive an immediate sale, but to use all available technology and data to empower the customer to make a purchase. You need an integrated sales and marketing strategy that offers useful customisation that enhances your customer’s experience of your brand. You need to tell a story they can connect with, on the channel and medium they prefer. We call it an OmniChannel strategy.
Customer service is selective service. This is one of the hottest and most severely neglected trends. It’s about only giving your best customers the best service and surrounding them, not with products, but with personal attention that rewards their loyalty. Remember that efficiency isn’t a service; it’s a given. Service excellence is where you gain the competitive edge. Service also has a price, so make sure you price your service at a level your customers can afford.
Speak ‘customer’. ‘Customer’ is the new language to master. Statistics show that 67% (and increasing) of US sales are now influenced by word of mouth. Customers are the storehouse of your profits, so surround them with the channels they want and integrate them directly into your brand story. Navigate the co-creation of your brand with a mix of channels that places the customer at the centre.
The blending of direct and brand marketing. Direct and brand marketing are complementary strategies and approaches that have a greater overall impact when combined with a coherent, OmniChannel media strategy. Together, they blend into a coherent operation to drive sales, enhance awareness, build relationships and increase profitability.
Investing in your customers. You should have a profit and loss account for each of your customers. They invest their money and time in you, and you invest value. Use data to identify your most profitable customers and invest in them with personalised, targeted communication and loyalty offerings.
Measure your marketing efforts. Know what you want to measure and why, and then incorporate your findings back into your strategy, evolving it on a continual basis.
It’s all about ‘me’. Customer lifestyles are creating new challenges for brands and marketing. They are focused on ‘me’ and increasingly demand a ‘have it all’ lifestyle. We need to figure out how to stay relevant, be noticed and be loved by our customers by placing them, rather than the brand, at the centre of our focus.
Marketers as guardians of privacy, preference and permission. Our responsibility as marketers to balance profit and effectiveness against our customers’ best interests is intensifying. The lines are drawn and the outcome of the battle between the ‘right to privacy’, the ‘fight for permission’ and the ‘drive for relevance’ will define how we proceed as marketers and as guardians of privacy.
Environmental concerns drive investment. Heightened political and societal pressure to ‘go Green’ will require both marketers and service providers to adopt and publicise environmentally friendly process enhancements.
There are many more up and coming trends to be aware of, and they shift and evolve on an almost daily basis. The key is knowing which ones are relevant for your brand. As far as I’m concerned they all boil down to one thing – using data to gather key insights into your customer and then using those insights to make him or her the focus of your marketing efforts.
Winnifred Knight is direct business director at Mortimer Harvey
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