January has arrived marking the beginning of a new year and a fresh start. As we take a big leap into 2013 with renewed energy and reminisce on the projects we’ve completed in the last year, whether large-scale or small-scale, long-term or short-term, brands too will be busy revising their overall marketing strategy, re-examining their marketing objectives, campaigns, budgets and even the specifics such as situational analysis, performance analysis and marketing research. With the knowledge that consumers are confronted with 5,000 brand messages each day, the question becomes, how can your brand stand out from the crowd? It all boils down to a implementing a thoughtful marketing strategy and plan for the year ahead.
Email & Mobile
Both B2B and B2C brands expect marketing budgets to increase in 2013 and will be investing in different programs according to their specific needs. Email marketing and mobile marketing are valued for building customer loyalty and retention while social media marketing can assist in building brand awareness*. By efficiently utilising location-based ads, mobile marketing has the advantage of expanded reach to new audiences. Whilst every form of marketing has a unique value, brands will be building strategies to support the channels and opportunities that will give them the greatest return on investment and strike the best balance between servicing their own objectives and their consumers, for maximum results.
The old adage, ‘content is king’ rings true even in 2013. Having swiftly evolved into a crucial aspect of a proven formula for retaining consumers’ attention and improving brand loyalty, content marketing is the art of creating fresh, original content and sharing that content across all social media channels. With guidance from content marketing professionals, brands have ready started to clearly identify the types of information their consumers need and provided that information in a relevant, compelling and engaging way at a frequency that is in line with consumers’ expectations. The positive brand association and exposure resulting from practical and value-added information can vastly improve a brand’s image in consumers’ minds. Content marketing is becoming the core of just about every marketing initiative for B2B marketing as well as B2C. Content marketing comes in a variety of forms – just look at how brands pay great attention to details when crafting a simple Facebook post or the slogan and tagline of an animated mobile banner ad!
With the rise of Instagram and Pinterest, visual storytelling will also be crucial for brands this year. Emotive stories help consumers make meaningful connections on social platforms regardless of the storyteller (friends, business connections or even brands.) Attracting new consumers and retaining loyal consumers extends beyond high-quality products or services, a brand’s image and reputation are significant factors too. Brand stories are the ones that differentiate a brand by speaking with consumers rather than at them. Ultimately, the brands that connect with consumers are the ones that display their unique brand stories across multiple innovative platforms. TOMS shoes, founded on the ethos that for every pair purchased, one pair is donated to a child in need, thrives on making their philanthropic story the heart of their company messaging. They extended their One for One campaign by sharing donation stories on their YouTube channel and showed how their movement is affecting real people throughout the world on their blog. In doing so, the brand elevated itself beyond the business of shoes, to the business of ‘social good’ and that’s something consumers want to be a part of. Similarly, we need only look at the Redbull Stratos event of 2012 as a masterclass in branding, visual storytelling and digital engagement.
2013 will see brands increasingly tapping into their ability to integrate a marketing strategy across all online marketing destinations and thus, deliver a single message across multiple platforms. Cross-platform marketing can be observed from the trend towards SoLoMo with more brands’ marketing strategies having a SoLoMo factor than ever before. SoLoMo is a combination of social, location and mobile, with each element complementing each other and working together to accomplish marketing objectives. At its best, the results of a successful SoLoMo campaign can be utterly memorable. One such example is the German pet food, GranataPet’s ‘Check In! Snack Out!’ campaign, where owners walking their dog past a campaign billboard can check in to the location on foursquare to dispense dog food from the billboard automatically – no need for a voucher!
Nike has captured the essence of SoLoMo in its Nike+ GPS Running app, from accurately recording users’ distance, pace and time to broadcasting their completed runs to the world via Facebook, Twitter and Path. Users can even get real-time cheers from their friends! The app successfully delivers a hugely augmented brand and product experience by harnessing the seamless GPS integration. Likewise, Walgreens incorporated SoLoMo in its marketing strategy by utilising timely location-based deals. When someone checks in to a Walgreens store via Foursquare, they can ‘unlock’ one of a series of ‘specials’, which can vary by time and day. This innovative mobile coupon program simultaneously engages its customers and drives footfall traffic. SoLoMo makes that connection between brands and consumers by promoting a brand’s products or services at specific places and times to the right people. SoLoMo is only one of the numerous methods of cross-platform marketing. As we march into the year of 2013, brands that adventurously explore other marketing opportunities and leverage cross-channel digital campaigns can expect to deliver real-time results at a lower cost.
Brands that succeed in standing out from the crowd this year will be the ones who are able to execute effective strategies that engage consumers. Doing so will require them to utilise the best mix of methods that fluently tell their unique brand stories in what is fast becoming the new digital language.
* 2013 Marketing Trends Survey by StrongMail, December 2012