“Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make but about the stories you tell,” said Seth Godin, summing up changes in marketing strategies.
Those stories have changed in recent years. In the 20th century, every story played into the customer’s fears and anxieties – be they worried about being too old, too fat, and so on. This century, we appeal to the customers’ hopes and aspirations. It’s about making the customer feel they are special, feel they are a star – that’s what buys brand loyalty. And that is all-important when it comes to planning successful marketing strategies
This desire to become, or at the very least to imitate, a celebrity has become one of the largest and most influential new trends. Millennials and Generation Z, especially, now find a “celebrity” endorsement more aspirational than they do one of an industry expert. Even being seen to have interaction with a B-list celebrity on social media adds appeal and therefore value to your brand.
One of the savvy business people who saw the potential of these changes and their potential in marketing strategies is Timothy Armoo, co-founder of Fanbytes. Armoo’s business helps brands collaborate with “influencers”, celebrities and other “personalities” known for their online presence. You can expect to pay for their services because of their following on Youtube or Snapchat, rather than any relevant qualification
Armoo says that it is the strength of their data set up that is their USP in comparison to competitors in this massively growing market. And data measurement is key to marketing now. Technology is moving so quickly, it is difficult for people to keep up with the skill sets.
All the trends are changing continually. SEO is a good example. Only two years ago, it was perhaps the most dominant section of marketing strategies Now, according to Smart Insights, it is relegated to a minor element, the focus is all on content marketing and marketing analysis. Social media has also lessened in importance.
As trends change so the skills gaps are showing. In Smart Insights’ latest Executive Summary, only 8% of those surveyed felt that they were strong in all areas of digital marketing and over half described their digital marketing as poor. 8 out of 10 said that the planning and analytics were the most vital skill to have yet 78% felt this was an area that needed improvement. This means most companies are going to be challenged to deliver on diverse marketing strategies.
Helping a client with marketing recruitment recently, I saw the skills gap for myself. We were inundated with applicants who claimed content writing ability or others with technical and analytical skills but virtually none with both sides of the skill set. Fine for the bigger business that can employ more than one person, not so helpful for a smaller business. These businesses are exposed to the huge and growing numbers of applicants who have dabbled in social media, written the odd blog but claim to be specialist marketers when they have zero ideas of analytics, planning, or let alone technical skills.
Marketing has changed in other ways too. Animoto says that 80% of millennials will consider video content before a purchase decision. They are happy to be sent information by email and text in advance which many older people find irritating and intrusive. These new generations expect a seamless experience across all the marketing platforms and devices, so gone are the days when marketing could be departmentalized. Every message everywhere has to be co-ordinated.
More than any generation before them the millennials and generation Z want an experience when they buy and this is now part of marketing’s branding work. It follows there is more need for interaction at each stage. Social media and internet reviews are now more and more influential, and playing in increasing part in overall marketing strategies, which leaves companies open to the dangers of losing their reputation from some vindictive customer or ex-employee.
The buying experience has to be highly personal and for these younger buyers brand authenticity is crucial. The millennials hate sales pitches and will fact check throughout the sales process. They dismiss the brand loyalty of the past and see it as common sense to move onto an alternative brand if something better comes along.
Increasingly, their own loyalty is stirred by a socially conscious brand, in alignment with their own personal beliefs. They may be susceptible to discounts, they may want excellent customer service and product/service quality, but it is the authenticity of the brand’s alignment with a social consciousness that is becoming the clincher for younger buyers.
Marketers do indeed need to concentrate on their data and research to achieve these things and remember basic marketing strategies. These trends that the millennials started are fast rippling out to all generations of the market place.
And therein lies a danger. Marketers tend to concentrate on the newest and latest and their data is too often too general. It is all too easy to overlook that even the older half of the millennials are very different from the younger, not as techno-savvy, often with different motivations now being settled with partners and children.
In this focus on the new trends, it is easy to miss the fact that it is still the over 50’s who have much of the disposable income. This group is often overlooked when setting marketing strategies, working on the assumption that they are too set in their ways, and too afraid of technology to be worth bothering with. But the over 50’s are more aware than many assume and have money to spend. Seriously clever marketing strategies use analysis of every bit of every generation, not just the up and coming.
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