A rocky 2018 has left consumers, businesses and nonprofits reeling from a seemingly endless round of unsettling behaviors – political drama, foreign uneasiness, rising interest rates, stock market turbulence and random violence throughout the year. Against this background, it is probably not surprising that the monthly Chief Executive magazine survey of “CEO Confidence In Business Conditions One Year From Now” dropped 16 percent from is high of 7.62 in January 2018 to 6.44 in December. The decline was led by air/rail (- 29%), financial services (- 22%), manufactured consumer goods (- 14%) and manufactured industrial goods (- 12%).
However, among all these clouds there are some rays of sunshine. I believe that there are a variety of actionable marketing and marketing communications actions that B2B, B2C and nonprofits can take to better position their brands for a profitable 2019 with improved ROI. By focusing on strategic direction and planning, organizations will not only improve results in 2019 but will also widen the gap between themselves and competitors who may be panic stricken and unable to make any moves. Hopefully these forecasts will help you develop the steps you need to take in 2019.
1. Video marketing will take center stage in 2019. Communicating a brand’s features, benefits and trustworthiness through a live or taped video can be more compelling than traditional content marketing tactics. Some 70 percent of B2B buyers and searchers are watching videos throughout the buying journey and nearly half of them are viewing 30 minutes or more of content (Millwood Brown). And a recent study by Cisco says that within the next three years, 82 percent of consumer Internet traffic will be for video. Investment in video – short form, long form, live or recorded should be a major priority in 2019.
2. Voice activated Internet search will increase significantly. In fact, by 2020, 50 percent of web searches will be voice activated (ComScore). To optimize voice search, it’s important to focus on conventional, long tail, multi-word phrases which have a greater chance of expressing the intention of the searcher. Considerable thought and time should be spent on developing new and compelling language for your website.
3. Media neutrality regarding new and traditional media and marketing services will become even more of a necessity. As customers and prospects seek brand information from multiple sources credibility will rise in importance. Digital media will continue to grow and is forecast to approach $87 billion in 2019; however, after the recent FBI investigation of digital media buying fraud, ANA’s new efforts to eliminate bots, the findings that digital ad blocking has climbed to 30 percent, etc., the long-awaited move to clean up digital media has finally begun. This is a good time to remember that that traditional media and marketing services (as led by sales promotion, television, telemarketing, direct mail, event, radio, newspaper and magazines) are still strong and projected to reach $357 billion in 2019 (Advertising Age).
4. Long form content messaging will become more important as search engines begin rewarding longer posts in rankings. Searchers are increasingly looking for more trustworthy sources, and longer, professionally documented posts can provide this. According to Orbit Media, a typical blog post in 2014 was 808 words while the typical length in 2018 was 1150 words (+ 42%). Just be sure to provide thoughtful, well researched and well written messages that will demonstrate your expertise and honesty.
5. Recognize that trust in social media is declining. Almost two-thirds of consumers no longer trust social media networks, according to social media management tool, Hootsuite. Why?
· Cambridge Analytica, as well as Russian and Chinese tampering scandals
· Facebook’s lack of security, as well as data sharing deals, accuracy and transparency
· Twitter and the large number of bots on its platform
That does not mean you should abandon social media altogether; rather, dig deeper into which platform to use and what information to gather, share and maintain to increase trustworthiness.
6. As millennials have become older, they’ve also become more “traditional” in their thinking and represent a growing new market to explore. These millennials in the older 22 – 37 age segment no longer fit all of the beliefs associated with their younger counterparts. As they become older, they:
· Marry and prefer the suburbs for raising their children
· Are the only age group currently increasing their use of coupons
· Are driving a boom in actual paper snail mail holiday greeting cards
· Similarly prefer direct mail coupons and promotions
· Want a strong human element for some services instead of just social and digital channels
They have become a sizable market which marketers should reconsider and think about in a new light.
7. The value of understanding your market and your marketing programs will soar in 2019. C-Suite concerns about 2019 will translate to their growing and significant need to understand where to invest resources as well as have assurances that a reasonable and measured ROI evaluation will be conducted. The disciplines of knowing your customers and prospects and evaluating the effectiveness of the marketing programs directed to them must be joined at the hip. Directing successful ROI focused programs starts with understanding the wants and needs of your audiences. There are various tactics to do this but understanding how your product or service is perceived by your audience is key. After developing a top-notch customer satisfaction program you’ve also got to determine what works, what needs to be improved and the overall ROI. If you lack the resources to evaluate these programs seek outside help. You and top management need proof of what’s working.
Optimize Planning And ROI With Marketing And Marketing Communication Consultants.
Hopefully, these forecasts make sense to you and will make you think more deeply about your challenges and opportunities. But if you don’t have the time or available and knowledgeable staff to develop and execute the appropriate tactics, consider outside professional staff.
Unsure about how to employ a consultant? You certainly should feel comfortable with the person but also be sure to check out the basics. Specifically, look for someone who:
· Is an established, media neutral professional with experience across industries, companies, B2B, B2C and nonprofits, large and small;
· Is analytically and ROI driven with broad knowledge across all marketing communications disciplines, rather than just one particular area of expertise;
· Is capable to bringing in other like-minded professionals when the need arises;
· Is willing to learn your business without a “one size fits all” mentality;
· Is going to “tell it like it so” so condor will flourish.
Most marketeers would agree that 2019 is going to be a very challenging, even disruptive, year. These forecasts not only give you something to think about; they also present opportunities to take action to improve your ROI. But, as Mark Twain said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
Gary Kullberg is the CEO of the Kullberg Consulting Group, LLC ( http://www.KullbergConsultingGroup.com ), founded in 1994 to provide companies and nonprofits with strategic and executional marketing communications solutions. The Company consists of sixty entrepreneurially driven senior level professionals, across disciplines, who have worked with over 585 organizations in 21 major industry groups. Because of its unique structure, clients are able to "cherry pick" the specific disciplines(s) to meet their needs, in a timely, cost efficient and unbiased manner. Gary is considered an authority in the B2B, B2C and nonprofit marketplaces. He has served as the outsourced Chief Marketing Officer for three companies, as well as on five nonprofit Executive Boards, one as Vice Chair and two as Chair. He can be reached at Gary@KullbergConsultingGroup.com or 401.886.5001.