Birnbach Communications’ Top Predictions for 2014, Part II: Marketing Trends

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Here are some marketing trends we see hitting in 2014:

  • Thought leadership will continue to be important to B2B companies. As opportunities in which to tell their stories in traditional media decrease, B2Bs will continue to recognize that it’s not enough to be an expert in their field; they have to showcase their expertise using blogs, bylined articles, social media, etc. (Last year we predicted that B2Bs would finally embrace social media; thought leadership is how you engage via social media.)  B2Bs need to make sure they develop a content strategy because one-off or occasional thought pieces probably won’t cut it in a social media environment that expects regular/frequent updates.  A word of caution: companies must understand it takes time to understand how to engage and build credibility via social media and that it takes patience to commit the resources necessary to be successful. Also, more content is not necessarily better; the content needs to be relevant.  Implications: There are a lot of ways for B2B companies to position themselves as thought leaders, and that could shift how marketing dollars are allocated.  
  • Sales and marketing need to be more integrated. Integrated marketing is not a new term but many corporate functions still operate in silos so that sales and marketing don’t coordinate efforts enough. This is particularly important because lead generation activities work best if coordinated. For example, generating positive media coverage is good, generating positive coverage with an embedded link that can drive traffic to your site is even better. This results in content that is used only by one function when it could be used across different functions; sometimes it results in duplicative efforts. Getting people’s attention on social media is getting more difficult as people’s timelines get more cluttered, as they follow, friend or like more people, companies, etc. – by working together, sales and marketing can make sure consistent messaging hit target audiences, which improves effectiveness. Implications: Sales and marketing need to work together on direct marketing, web content, marketing automation, advertising, social marketing and PR to generate qualified leads and move them through the sales pipeline. 
  • Social media tracking services will hit it big in 2014. To measure the ROI of their social media initiatives, companies need better ways to measure their success – so they can justify social media to their bosses. We think Google will make more of an effort to track social media metrics – much the way it Google Analytics tracks website data – but there will be a growth area until the eventual consolidation. Implications: Metrics continue to be important. That said, each organization will need to determine for itself which metrics are most important. 
  • CES is no longer the top tech convention. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has been eclipsed by South By Southwest (SXSW) but both need a breakout show in 2014. Last year’s CES and SXSW were not as successful in generating buzz as in prior years. The problem with the last two years of CES has been its focus on the latest TVs – at a time when people are more likely watching TV on their tablets than on a “TV set.” (Also Apple does not participate in CES.) The problem with SXSW, which focuses on apps and social media, could be app fatigue (see more, below). By the way: the hottest show right now, in terms of buzz generated, is Comic-Con, the annual convention celebrating comics, science fiction, movies, etc. How do we know this? Because the deadline to request validated press passes closed more than seven months before the actual show.  Implications: Both CES and SXSW have been great shows to launch new technology but startups may need to find new venues to generate the buzz their VC investors want. 
  • PR Spam will still be an issue. In late December, NY Times consumer columnist, David Segal, complained about getting pitched by publicists for stories that were clearly not relevant for his column (which has to do with helping consumers handle complaints from companies they dealt with). Part of the problem is that some software makes it easy to blast emails to hundreds or thousands of reporters at one time. We just got an email offering as its main benefit the ability to blast more reporters at once. Implications: We do not think this is a positive step in the relationships between journalists and bloggers with PR folks. Clearly, it is the responsibility of agencies and their clients to reduce the level of PR spam.

Let us know if you agree or disagree. Check back tomorrow for additional predictions
or click here for Part I.

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