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On Top Marketing Trends for 2013

dia mustacheAh, the new year. A time for reflection, reinvention, resolutions … and plenty of “top marketing trends” lists, highlighting marketing strategies and tactics to watch for, adopt and enhance in 2013.  A few of the better examples I’ve come across: 

While it's essential for influencers like those above to push the envelope, and aim to move our industry forward by encouraging savvy marketers to adopt new technologies, strategies and tactics, there's a major concern with getting caught up in these trends:

We're leaving our peers—including clients and colleagues—behind.


The marketer mindset, skillset and toolset is drastically different among today’s professionals, depending upon one’s previous experiences, current position, time in the business, education (both formal and off-the-cuff), and other factors.

A few years ago, people said that social media leveled the playing field for smaller brands—but that was only true for brands that were willing to take a leap of faith, and invest in the time, technology, budget and training needed to make it work.

The truth is that today, change velocity (shifts in consumer behavior driven by technology), selective consumption (the tuning out of outbound marketing, and consumer ability to choose where and when to interact with brands) and marketing success factors (meaningful marketing outcomes and ROI over outputs) have drastically unleveled the playing field among marketers. And this is seen very clearly in trend predictions. Note: change factors from Paul Roetzer’s (@paulroetzer) The Marketing Agency Blueprint.

The “connected” side—Twitter-using, blogging, software-obsessed, data-driven marketers—is talking trends like big data, marketing automation, reporting out on clear marketing ROI / sales impact, leveraging social and content to fuel SEO, engaging the right talent, social business, going agile, etc.

The average marketer, however, is only now getting into trends the “connected” were exploring five years ago: inbound marketing, content, social media, mobile … and still unsure of the validity of some that the most savvy marketers would consider hands-down, have-to-do best practices.

True, the majority of trends continue to evolve over time, and some of the above are hot topics today even among the most savvy marketers, who are pushing them to their limits. That said, there is a huge disconnect in where top marketers (and the brands that employ them and their services) are going, compared to the average marketer, and average company they work with.

This is part of the reason the C-suite may not trust marketers, and why CMOs are less than satisfied with their agency partners.

While some marketers are laser-focused on reporting outcomes like ROI, specific results of activities and bottom-line impact, others feel as though if they don’t report a laundry list of outputs, they have nothing of value to show. One may say “we increased traffic by X percent,” only to be met with a response of, “OK, but what did you do last week?”

Agency pros are all too familiar with this disconnect (likely from both sides); however it’s also a difficult issue for corporate marketers looking to push their organizations forward with modern marketing strategy and tactics.

So, how do we reconcile these differences?

I don’t have the answer. My best guess is that the chasm will only continue to grow.

Some organizations and their marketing teams will continue to push the envelope, and create valuable, client- and customer-focused campaigns that truly make a bottom-line impact. Others will stay the course, and in some traditional businesses, this will continue to prove successful for several years to come. Others still will start to dabble in modern, inbound marketing methodologies, but will require investments in talent and technologies, and education for marketers and their colleagues to play catch up with the early adopters they’re competing against.

The best thing I can recommend to any marketer is, no matter your anticipated tactics, get on the same page with the people to whom you’re accountable. Have conversations with your client, boss, executives—whomever it is you’re reporting out to—about the business’ goals, how marketing can help them be achieved, and how you will measure and report success. Note: Unless you have unlimited resources (read: people and money) be specific, and prioritize your objectives.

The new year is a great time to start fresh. How are you going to get on the same page with your colleagues in 2013?

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