Tuesday, December 28, 2010

4 trends may help sharpen marketing for 2011

We seem obsessed with predicting the future, and it goes beyond who will win the Super Bowl or how many more times Lindsay Lohan will be ordered to rehab.
For marketers, there is no lack of pundits and organizations lined up to help you see what is around the corner. One group that appears to have a good handle on trends that will help define business is Vistage International. This San Diego-based executive leadership firm is made up of 14,000 business professionals worldwide who work together in small, peer advisory groups.

Vistage recently published a report on 12 trends it believes create opportunities for business. I found four of the predictions especially relevant to marketers.

Short-term consumer thinking: Coming off the worst financial crisis in decades, fear based on the inability to predict what might happen next has prompted purchases based on immediate need.

"People are now thinking more about the here and now and less about things that may or may not last a long time," said William Higham, trend analyst and author of The Next Big Thing-Spotting & Forecasting Consumer Trends for Profit .

Mobile purchasing: The U.S. will soon catch up to consumers in Japan and Sweden in the ability to use mobile phones for transactions. If you have been in an Apple store recently, you might have seen a card reader attached to an employee's iPhone. Without going to the checkout desk, the employee will swipe your credit/debit card and offer to e-mail you a receipt. Quicker, faster, cooler.

Behavioral segmentation: That's a mouthful. But it means you can craft more relevant, and therefore more effective, communications by taking steps to better understand your customers' behavior, especially how they act and react to your digital offerings.

Using non-threatening analytical tools, you can develop profiles based on how people use your website content, which offers they respond to, what they buy, which e-mails they open and the information provided during registration.

The product offerings served up to customers on Amazon and Netflix are a great example of proper behavioral segmentation.

The traditional sales model evolves: The traditional sales cold call may be a thing of the past for many industries.

"Now the process has been reversed. We attempt to get the client to come visit us. Pull marketing instead of push selling," said Vistage speaker and sales consultant Sam Bowers.

Here are some of the basic elements of an effective pull marketing program: a robust and highly functional website with detailed product information, an easy way to buy online, customer product reviews posted on third-party sites, targeted advertising that leads prospects to your site, and an aggressive website search optimization program.

Also, research trends and seek sound advice to help plan your business's future. Using your own shoe leather and intellect can be even more reliable than following some pundit's sound bite prediction of the next big thing.

David Bohan founded BOHAN Advertising|Marketing, a Nashville agency with clients in travel, hospitality, health care and consumer products, in 1990. He has worked in marketing and advertising since earning a degree at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 1970.

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