You’ve starred a few. You’ve bookmarked a couple. You may even have read one or two. It’s the time of year when a deluge of predictions come out, and we in the marketing world take no shortage of time and energy trimming the wish list tree.
Flipping through some of the “bold” predictions, I scratch my head, chuckle and wonder if I’ve woken up from an elaborate dream in late 2009. So rather than waste time and tell you that 2013 will be the year of mobile or predict the next big adaptation of Facebook, Twitter or Google, I’ll take a new approach: seven things that really need to happen in marketing. These things keep getting punted into the future as we get buried in shiny new objects and attempt to shoehorn emerging channels into campaigns before we have strategies to act on.
1. Stop fretting about Facebook ad units and how Facebook will navigate the desktop/mobile divide.
Ads on Facebook are an important consideration, but let Facebook and some extremely thrifty national and international businesses fight that battle. A better solution for your business? Make sure your Facebook presence dovetails with the rest of your marketing initiatives.
2. Local media (TV, radio and print) have to recalibrate.
For better or worse, local TV has been abandoned by the old national network model. You know this, I know this and the local TV industry knows this (it has known for a long while). So what to do about it? Smaller, leaner stations (read “independent”) can be extremely creative with programming models and what they offer marketing partners. Cable providers can and do use custom content to enhance their offerings. Local stations need to reboot and significantly modify the morning, midday and evening news structure. That is no longer how the world digests content. People still watch TV and listen to radio; media outlets just need to get smart about what differentiates them. A good place to start is to consider original content that can replace tired news models and wasted blocks of syndicated reruns.
3. Don’t allow media disruption to cramp creative and strategic decisions.
Media disruption has always existed. Your reach has never been “actual”— it has always been “potential.” These days, the disruption is simply more obvious and pronounced, and every medium has a source of disruption. You can’t reach everyone even with an infinite budget, so don’t create hurdles by rationalizing poor media choices that “feel better” on account of blinders data. Blinders data is your gut feeling, sans empirical evidence, that something you believe must be true. Don’t make choices on how to deliver a strategic marketing plan based on “what you do” day in and day out. Except for the very rare occasion, you are different from your customer(s) in so many serious and important ways.
4. Get the data, but do not be the data.
The old saying goes, “I know 50% of my marketing is wasted. I just don’t know which 50%.” Here’s my personal spin: “I know 50% of my analytics is useless. I just don’t know which 50%.” I am being a touch facetious. I am a big advocate for measuring, but it has to be done with the knowledge that you are gaining insights, not generating reasons for dismissal. Don’t rush in to kill a marketing channel because it initially performed poorly (and certainly don’t kill one because you can’t measure it adequately enough). Choose channels because they are strategically sound. Implement meaningful and useful analytics. Gather the data and think of how campaigns can be improved, logically and with a purpose.
5. Put ROI in proper context.
Nothing is as easy as spending “X” to yield “Y.” Quantifying marketing expenditures is a good thing – no one should work with blank canvases or blank checks. Still, if your starting point or main imperative of your RFP is ROI, it is a red flag that you may really be shopping for magic beans to save the day. If someone offers you magic beans, please take a picture of the dirt they grow. You can’t use math to steer out of a core marketing problem. ROI is part of a process of measuring and refining. It is not the starting point of a strategy, and it is not the end point of strategy. It is an arrow in the quiver. Keep that arrow. Use that arrow. Don’t be the arrow: it is a narrow view of a wide landscape.
6. Mobile mini billboards stink, and they must be eradicated.
That 3-inch by ¼-inch image at the bottom of a mobile page or app is incoherent and painful to the eyes. Even if users decipher it and activate it, nothing says “I am not concerned about potential customers” more than sending them to a website not optimized for mobile. Likely, 2013 will not be the year of mobile because content providers, agencies, mobile networks and businesses will continue to add mobile to the “mix”… but mainly by delivering ghastly, nonsensical experiences. Don’t misconstrue the point: money will be spent on mobile marketing (and perhaps some of it very wisely). But far too many businesses will launch sub-par mobile campaigns simply to scratch an itch and check a box off the “to do” list. Don’t do mobile just because it is there. Do it because you have a great idea that can only be enhanced or expressed via the channel.
7. No more tweeting that you hate your job, especially from the company account you manage.
Individuals charged with running company Twitter streams need to stop accidentally posting personal tweets to these accounts. Even if you hate your job, stop posting about it on your personal Twitter account, Facebook page or even a little sticky note that you leave on your fridge at home. This last bit is self-serving, but you must hire professional service firms that have protocols and tools in place to prevent blatant, ridiculous and amateur errors. You need a well-managed decision making process that runs efficiently, rapidly and in real-time. In other words, you need Media Logic, but I am probably a touch biased.