Small and Midsized Company Marketing and Marketing Communications – Important Forecasts For 2017

2016 ended with Americans exhausted by emotionally wrenching politics, stories of foreign entanglements and violence at home. Businesses, too, have struggled with modest economic growth and a turbulent stock market. As 2017 begins we all, consumers and organizations alike, face uncertainty in a variety of arenas.

With this as backdrop, businesses still have to develop, plan and execute strategies for profitable growth. After speaking to various colleagues and clients, and reading the comments of a number of pundits and prognosticators, here’s my take on what’s in store for small and midsized B2B and B2C businesses in the coming year:

1. A significant number of marketers – both large and small – will conduct agency reviews in 2017. The current report from Advertiser Perceptions (based on 420 marketers representing about 90 percent of the Top 100 US advertisers) reveals a staggering number of planned reviews:

· 66% plan creative agency reviews;

· 65% plan to review search agencies;

· 64% plan to review media agencies;

· 61% plan to review digital agencies.

Why? Beyond the lack of trust in authorities in society as a whole, rightly or wrongly trust has also been lost between marketers and their agencies. So if you’re feeling concerned about your agency relationship, recognize that you’re not alone.

2. There will be major increases in the number of companies hiring “contingent workers”, i.e., independent contract workers and freelance specialists. Faced with rises in the minimum wage, increases in healthcare costs and increasing payroll taxes, companies are obviously doing everything they can to cut their fixed labor costs. But the ability to hire top notch talent for the short or long term is also a practice gaining much momentum. In fact, a recent survey by Deloitte University Press showed a “7 percent significant increase” plus a “44 percent increase” in planning to hire contingent workers in the next few years.

Keep in mind that these “outsiders” bring fresh energy and fresh ideas to any type of organization while also perhaps providing some savings to your bottom line.

3. Media fraud and ad blocking will increase in 2017. Much was uncovered by the Association of National Advertisers’ eight month investigation of undisclosed rebates flowing from digital media companies to agencies. However, there’s incentive for fraudsters to keep doing what they’re doing because of the ability to circumvent fraud detection systems. This widespread practice can influence agencies’ media recommendations (and bottom lines), while obviously not being in the best interests of clients.

Perhaps more importantly, the stunning growth of ad blocking across markets poses a huge threat to digital media. At least 419 million people worldwide are blocking ads on their smartphones, nearly twice the number blocking on desktops. That’s 22 percent of the world’s 1.9 billion smartphone users (PageFair – Ad Blocking Goes Mobile).

Digital and mobile media aren’t going away but using them effectively is challenging. Find trusted professionals to make sure you get what you bargained for.

4. As customers and supporters are the life blood for any business or nonprofit, organizations will need to significantly increase their efforts to gain insight into their real world wants and needs. A recent McKinsey & Co. study of about 700 senior executives concluded that: 1) only 6 percent of companies felt they understood the needs of their customers extremely well; and, 2) seventy-two percent considered customer insight budgets inadequate.

There has been an explosion in the amount of customer data available, with new software programs mining all sorts purchase and opinion information, including social media. To be competitive, organizations will have to keep expanding their knowledge using this new information. It just doesn’t seem smart to even consider developing a targeted strategy or plan without knowing your customers, so make sure you have the skills to obtain and interpret the right information.

5. Developing and maintaining a positive customer experience will become the new king of marketing. Distrust of institutions appears to be rampant — products are recalled, passwords are stolen, on-line tweets have as much credibility as government agencies. Starting with employees, make sure they have the knowledge and tools to better serve the customer, create a positive experience, and champion repeat purchase and customer referrals.

Trust is the new black. All aspects of a brand’s life should convey trustworthiness, consistently delivered in a believable manner, at every touch point.

6. The acceptance and use of direct mail by millennials will continue to explode. Yes, millennials. And, yes, snail mail. This demographic is the most likely to open and read direct mail. In fact, 63% reported that they made a purchase based on a direct mail piece they opened within the last 3 months (Info Trend Study of direct marketing in the US).

Perhaps their inundation with spam, interruptive advertising and meaningless content leaves them tired of looking at screens and searching for a “new” medium. After all, it’s not about technology; it’s about effectiveness.

7. While media spending on the Internet will tie with television for the largest expenditures in 2017, more marketers will recognize that the majority of major media spending is still accounted for by traditional media (65%). Television spending will increase by 1 percent, out of home by 4 percent, as radio remains unchanged and only magazines and newspapers will show declines (by 5 and 9 percent,respectively). Additionally, the Marketing Services category will increase by 2.8 percent to $237 billion, as led by sales promotion, telemarketing, direct mail and event sponsorships. (Advertising Age)

It goes without saying that determining where to spend your marketing communications dollars is becoming more complex. The key to doing so successfully is understanding the difference between selecting the newest “efficient” tactical tool, and selecting the most “effective” one. This becomes increasingly important for small businesses, who can’t afford costly mistakes.

8. Considerably more time and smart thinking will be put into the development of marketing and marketing communications strategy, positioning and planning. A “Meaningful Brands” study by Havas in 2015 reported that most people wouldn’t care if three-quarters of all brands disappeared for good! Further, most brands haven’t updated their strategies to meet today’s Internet-enabled buyers. These buyers have access to vast amounts of information and have a plethora of purchasing options at their fingertips. It’s more vital than ever that in order to survive, you must continue to keep your brand meaningful to your constituents.

Both for profit and nonprofit brands must make it absolutely clear how they differ from competition, and make their value proposition completely believable at every opportunity. Once your plan is implemented, you must also know what’s working and measure everything.

Value Marketing And Marketing Communications Consultants

2017 brings a considerable number of unknowns and concerns facing your customers, prospects and even your employees. They clearly are more cautious about what to believe and who to trust in the year ahead. All organizations are faced with these issues and the dilemma of how to have a successful business in this climate.

Many small and midsized organizations are partnering with established and independent senior level consultants to help them with marketing and marketing communications budgets, and plans – evaluating, developing, refining and, if appropriate, implementing. If this is something you might consider, look for people with broad B2B, B2C and nonprofit experience across industries and brands. Seek out consultants who are media neutral and aren’t selling one particular discipline. And make sure they’re passionate about analyzing results and willing to “tell it like it us”, so candor will flourish.

Improving profitable sales and marketing communications ROI is a daunting task. Finding the right consultant to partner with you might take some looking, but as Yogi Berra said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Marketing Communications – Revealed – 6 Maximum Steps to Improve Your Communications

Here are the best ways to improve your marketing communications to easily influence the buying decision of your potential clients:

1. Know your audience. Before you even think about writing your marketing communications, I recommend that you get to know the people to whom you are writing these for. You need to know their problems or their struggles in their lives, their language, the elements that can push their emotional buttons, their buying power, and the things that can influence their buying decisions. Knowing all these information can empower you to create ads and other communications that are focused to your target market.

2. Improve your vocabulary. Get to know the words that can make your marketing communications sound extremely powerful and know how to use them properly. “Weak words” or those that cannot bring huge impact will not be able to help you capture the attention of your prospects. Read as many ads as possible (those that have high conversion rate) and determine the words that they contain.

3. Communicate the benefits. There is only one thing that buyers would like to know when they are about to make a purchase and that is “what’s in it for me?” Make sure that you answer this question on your marketing communications. Tell your prospects ahead of time the benefits that they can enjoy and the selling points of your products and services.

4. They must sound upbeat and enthusiastic. The last thing you would like to do is to make your ads sound boring. Avoid that from happening by simply using words that communicate excitement or enthusiasm. You can use exclamation points but do not overdo it if you don’t want your ads to sound like they are shouting.

5. Make them scannable. Most buyers these days have limited attention span due to their demanding lifestyle. If you want them to read your marketing communications in their entirety, you need to make these easy on the eyes and scannable. Use bullet list when writing down the benefits of your products and use subheadings whenever appropriate. This can help your readers find the information they are looking for and just skip those ones that are of little interest to them.

6. Less is more. By this, I simply mean keep your communications short as much as possible. Just say what you mean and mean what you say. You don’t need to use fillers, big words, and lengthy introductions as these can just annoy your prospects.

Join An Internet Marketing Community

Anyone and everyone planning to start their own online business in internet marketing needs to join an internet marketing community first. Before jumping in blindfolded, find a place to go so when you hit the bottom of the pool and crack your head open, you do not give up! There are a whole lot of issues and irritations along the road to “millionaire internet marketer” that hurt like hell! Do not take them on alone or you will want to quit. Actually, you probably will quit. It is a sad fact, but starting a business is in the same league as exercise, giving up smoking or anything else that takes a bunch of motivation and energy. In the beginning there is a great deal of pain and what feels like very little reward. The results are minimal the first few weeks. The lack of instant success makes the prospects of starting a business lose its luster rapidly. There is a solution, join an internet marketing community.

After researching internet marketing communities, Internet Income University kept coming up and was highly recommended. Large forums are great, but there are so many members and so many strategies it is impossible to know where to step. Plus, the large forums are promoting magic bullet products faster than you can type bullet. Being new to the business myself I stick to my home base, which is Internet Income University. There are active members with quality advice, especially for the beginners. Not to mention, there are hours of free training videos available to all members.

Starting your own business, specifically and Internet marketing business can get lonely fast. Sometimes I feel like I am completely lost in cyberspace because I need to do something new that I don’t know anything about and I just need some help! With Internet Income University behind me, I know where to get help. It is reassuring and refreshing! Articles get rejected, links break themselves (I swear), sites seemingly disappear, and the list just goes on and on. It gets extremely frustrating. Having a community is a godsend. Without it, I may have thrown my computer out the window by now.

Join an internet marketing community and make some friends on the inside. With Internet Income University, I was able to join for free without any commitment whatsoever. There are two full weeks of solid training, plus several extra videos and PDFs for specific strategies and tools. Most of all, there is a great group of people doing the same thing, having the same problems and achieving the same goals. It is a great place to start, and stay!