Digital marketing trends exist for conferences, summits, and more courses to take. They rarely change marketing strategy and may only change (some) tactics.
What are the top five trends in marketing and why should we care? Better yet, what are the definitions of these new marketing terms. Marketers love to create terms for things that already have labels. They’re the Shakespeare of the business word. If there is a slogan, lesson, or word can that be invented to go viral they will do it.
The Marketing Event
I was online at the DMEXCO event last week, thanks to a free ticket from ThinkwithGoogle (thank you very much!). I teach each day, also online via Zoom, but after class I was able to log on and watch some of the talks. I was interested in the trending topics which near the end of Day 2 were:
Niche Influencers, Chatbots & Voice, Video Default, Brands, Prosumers, Online Advertising, New Work, Data & Analytics, Leadership, Personalisation.
So I was Googling around, which is something I do, to find out what’s changed in Marketing over the years – better said actually what has NOT changed in marketing over the years. There are a lot of sites offering the Three Things or Four Things or Two Things that have not changed in marketing in twenty years — ever — since the advent of the internet.
Interestingly, most of the things that had not changed were unique, adding up to a LOT of things that actually have not changed in marketing!
I had a conversation with a client about neuromarketing the other day and all I could think of was “you want them to click on something, right?” — which probably shows my age.
Anyone who has seen the brilliant movie “Mr. Blanding Builds His Dream House” remembers the iconic scene where Mrs. Blandings explains to the painters what colours she wants in her kitchen and dining room:
“I want it to be a soft green, not as blue-green as a robin’s egg, but not as yellow-green as daffodil buds. Now, the only sample I could get is a little too yellow, but don’t let whoever does it go to the other extreme and get it too blue. It should just be a sort of grayish-yellow-green. Now, the dining room. I’d like yellow. Not just yellow; a very gay yellow. Something bright and sunshine-y.”
Mr. PeDelford: “You got that Charlie?”
Charlie, Painter: “Green, blue, yellow.”
Mr. PeDelford: “Check.”
So I’m very much like Charlie. I was looking at these terms and wondering if they can be broken down into something with a little less hype.
I want to start with the term “niche influencers” because I’ve read they are a “secret weapon – a type of anti-advertising.” Good God.
“Niche Influencers focus on a specific area of interest.” Now, that I can work with. The only kind of influencers are niche. That’s the definition of an audience or a niche. They could be Persona Advocates. The name doesn’t matter. The behaviour does.
You’ve heard of consumers but have you heard of prosumers? This term makes more sense and isn’t so new; it’s been around since at least 2016. There are two definitions of this term – the first is a consumer that also produces (for example with solar energy tiles on their roof).
The second definition is one I am more familiar with and is really at the heart of how our digital culture is unique. That is, prosumers are consumers who advocate for the product.
Available technologies enable almost anyone to capture, create, and share content. Humans have always captured and shared content – this is how we learn and communicate.
Capturing and sharing through digital is different in three important ways:
- We are active agents in the process of meaning-making (we become participants),
- We adopt and modify, manipulate, and reform ways of understanding reality (we engage in remediation).
- We reflexively create our own particular versions of that reality (we are bricoleurs).
New work is a new pet peeve of mine. New? Really? Work is work. Put on your big gender-neutral pants and start working. This isn’t new; even the term is over 40 years old.
“In the 1980s, philosopher Frithjof Bergmann coined the term ‘New Work’ to refer to a different way of organizing work: he saw alternative work-time models as the key to preserving jobs in a context of increasing automation and offering new perspectives as a way of unbridling creative potential. Almost forty years later, this prediction is coming true.” Henkel https://www.henkel.com/spotlight/features/new-work
Yes, zoom meetings and WiFi and cloud-based computing allows us to work remotely. Cell phones allowed us to take calls at home in the 1990’s. Dictaphones allowed managers to dictate memos at their own prerogative. Innovative companies will always find a way to work that is more efficient and helps with employee satisfaction and retention. It isn’t new.
Personalisation is one of my favourites new marketing terms. You can’t talk about personalisation without talking about GDPR and privacy. This leads to the pros and cons of cookies and “if you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll ask for a glass of milk, or — more appropriately — the right to sell your contact information to his advertiser.
We’re a self-centered, narcissistic culture. We want our personalisation and our privacy, too. But is that possible?
Yes, personalisation works for retargeting campaigns and marketing emails that feel like a friendly note from your long lost mate from school. It works. We subconsciously want to be accepted. That new jumper will certainly make us look sharp. Brilliant! I’ll buy it. Not so fast, kid.
Personalisation requires tracking. Making it all about the consumer (or prosumer) can lead off into the social media-induced quagmire of the algorithm-driven society we have found ourselves in. When everyone is right, who needs anyone else?
At some point leadership stopped being about equipping and empowering your workforce to be productive and became about the matrix hierarchies of the ins and outs of the corporation’s house of cards. One less middle manager makes the whole thing go kaput.
A good friend of mine works for a large corporation in Berlin. He was telling me the other day that it’s so frustrating because there are so many good ideas, and so many good people, but no one in the matrix who will take the chance to say “We’re going with this. If it fails, it’s my call – but my experience and trust in the people I hired? That’s why I’m pulling the trigger.” We need more trigger people.
Am I demonising corporations? No. But when no one is in charge and no one is in charge of putting someone in charge and the buck is passed like a child’s game of hot potato so that everyone’s assets are covered, who is a leader? Where is the leadership behaviour?
With Zoom meetings and remote work becoming the norm, who will the middle managers manage? Maybe corporations will cut out the middleman afterall. That may be what leadership looks like.
Human Behaviour Doesn’t Change
Marketing is selling to humans. As long as human behaviour doesn’t change there will be no change in marketing — digital or otherwise.
Technology changes, evolves, grows, dies, and with it the tactics of marketing may alter slightly. Do you know what stays the same? Marketing.
Sure, even a senior digital marketer like myself can discuss niche influencers and prosumers and how personalisation and leadership lead to productivity in new work. Or we can just talk about how your marketing campaigns pushed sales numbers up this quarter. Which makes more sense to you?
Bridget Willard is a brilliant writer and social media guru. She took time out from her busy schedule after her recent move from California to Texas to edit and inspire my post this month. Crazy teaching schedule at the moment. Thank you Bridget!!
Your Voice. Your Power. Your Brand.
Bridget Willard – Social Media and Content Marketing
Business to business relationship marketing.