Top Marketing and Communications Trends for 2014: Part Two

 

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Curious about what new marketing and communication trends 2014 will bring? In part one of this post, we identified three key trends for the New Year: social media becoming pay-for-play, branded journalism, and wearable technology and the Internet of Things. Today, we’ll discuss three more trends.

Collaborative economy:  Crowd sourcing, crowd funding, crowd storming: Fab, AirBnB, Uber, TaskRabbit. These are all examples of the collaborative economy. Recent advances in technology like mobile, social, 3D printers and the Internet of Things are empowering people and businesses to share existing resources with each other rather than buy anew or reinvent the wheel. It’s a simple, but revolutionary concept. The collaborative economy was a huge trend in 2013, but is likely to grow in 2014 and marketers should challenge themselves to think about how they can leverage it. ‘My Starbucks Idea’ is a good example of how a brand creatively harnessed the power of crowdsourcing, not only for marketing, but to innovate their business.

Anticipatory computing – This is the act of serving up information a person wants before they even know to ask for it. Mobile users have been checking into their locations, listening to music on their phones, and updating ical events for years. Now, companies like Foursquare and Circle are using the data from these mobile interactions to tailor suggestions specific to the user, which effectively means that your smartphone could dictate your preferences and purchases.

For example, Foursquare is rolling out push notification recommendations to help users find what’s happening in their area. People who opt-in to the push notifications will get suggestions on where to eat or what to do in their neighborhoods. I predict that this idea will proliferate in 2014, and will have a significant impact on advertising and marketing.

Super fans as marketers: The idea of engaging an audience that is already passionate about your brand isn’t new, but social media makes ‘super fans’ even more valuable. It’s easier than ever before to find and reach super fans, and they have a menagerie of tools at their fingertips to evangelize their brand affinities.

A recent Mashable article stated that a Facebook friend is now worth about $174, which 28% higher than 2012, and that figure is expected to increase. Online friends are clearly valuable, but if recommendations from Facebook friends are worth almost $200, what’s the value of a recommendation from a real-live friend? Super fans can be a brand’s secret weapon, not only because of their power online, but also offline.

As we progress through the age of the ‘super fan,’ marketers will enlist these ‘assets’ to market and sell for them, both online and in-person. Here’s an example: Pepsi rewarded selected Beyoncé fans who created videos based on the singer’s latest commercial with the chance to appear in a video made with her choreographer, as well as a trip to her concert in Brooklyn. Smart.

What do you think will be the major marketing trends in 2014? Tell us in the comments.

Hospitality Marketing: Going Mobile in the Digital Age

Hotel management consultant Robert A. Rauch of R.A. Rauch & Associates recently hosted his second annual Hotel Forecast and Digital Marketing Conference with additional presentation by e-marketer Adam Brownstein. Brownstein is co-founder of buuteeq, a firm that provides a digital marketing system for hotels. Both presentations offered great food for thought for hospitality marketers.

In his opening, Rauch boldly stated that the information age is over and that we have entered a “digital tsunami age.” He explained that the hospitality landscape is evolving quickly as customers increasingly turn to online and mobile platforms for all forms of communication, sharing, planning and booking. But, now more than ever, the digital landscape is also driving all aspects of customer service and engagement, before, during and after a trip.

Brownstein later noted that while mobile traffic makes up 15 percent of current hotel website traffic volumes, smartphone activity has tripled in the last year alone. Approximately 30 percent of website traffic and 65 percent of same-day hotel reservations now come via mobile phones. He also noted that 57 percent of mobile users will not recommend a hotel with a bad mobile site.

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What makes a good mobile site? In a nutshell, it should automatically deliver a tailored experience. A few ways to accomplish this include:

  • Resizing and compressing images and enlarging text
  • Displaying contact information prominently
  • Linking seamlessly to maps
  • Not using outdated flash technology
  • Using a mobile optimized booking engine
  • Running mobile-only promotions to target on-the-go travelers with last-minute deals

But having a mobile site is only one piece of the puzzle. Both Rauch and Brownstein agreed that in today’s instantaneous speed of ingesting information, a hotel’s main site and mobile site also should:

  • Not skimp on high-quality photos! Photos sell a hotel even before marketing copy, with nearly 73 percent of users clicking on photos of rooms after visiting the homepage.
  • Keep things simple. As soon as a guest decides a site requires too much focus, effort, or time to find what they need, they will likely move on with without booking a room.

More advice for hoteliers included making sure their brand is on social media, and providing guests the opportunity to book through every applicable platform, such as the hotel’s Facebook page. Rauch also recommended that hotels integrate their TripAdvisor feed on their website. His reasoning? TripAdvisor is a great driver of bookings but also a leak. When potential guests are forced to leave a hotel’s site to read reviews of the property, they end up also reading the competitions’. Lastly, while TripAdvisor is still the leading trusted source of travel reviews, Rauch said to keep an eye on Google. The relentless competitor has made strong forays in hospitality and therefore hotels should at the very least have a presence on Google+ and Google Places.

The lessons imparted by Rauch and Brownstein can be applied to just about any business. Is yours effectively capturing today’s digital generation?

Public Relations is More Than Order Taking

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Recently at a luncheon for hospitality sales and marketing professionals I heard the phrase, “I don’t care if you’re an order taker, be the best order taker you can be.” I suppose the phrase makes sense for a restaurant server, for example, since what typically sets the best servers apart is their ability to upsell: As you’ve each selected the same glass of wine, how about sharing a bottle? But could the same phrase also be applied to a PR professional? I certainly hope not.

At (W)right On we take ‘project orders’ from our clients all the time. In any given month we fulfill a myriad of requests from writing a press release or designing a brochure, to producing a video or strategizing an email marketing campaign. But it’s not our goal to simply be great order takers. As PR consultants, our goal is to help our clients achieve their communications goals while helping them to see a bigger picture. And that means steering them to the right strategies to reach their goals.

For example, before we ever sit at the table to create compelling copy for a brochure, we may first have to spend time gently explaining to a client why his company jargon isn’t compelling or why a brochure is not the communications vehicle in the first place. Or when a client comes to us with a “great idea” for a press release, we can’t be afraid to ask: so what? We’re in the business of communications, so it’s our job to pinpoint the “so what?” in every project we collaborate on.Is this idea newsworthy? If not, let’s come up with an idea that is! Will anyone care? If not, let’s look at why and figure out how to make it so! Is there a different marketing route we could take instead of a routine press release? Let’s brainstorm the possibilities!

When I heard that phrase, “…be the best order taker you can be,” I immediately thought of (W)right On’s Core Values and how five of them illustrate why we will never consider ourselves order takers:

We act with intention. When we know the outcomes that are being targeted and how these will help our clients reach their goals, we make the best use of client and agency resources and we can anticipate problems before they arise.

We focus on the important. We don’t confuse flash for substance. And we don’t confuse activity for productivity.

We are relentless about results. We are creative and thorough in helping clients achieve their goals. And we accept that we won’t always be successful, but when we aren’t, it won’t be because of something we didn’t think of or do!

We embrace and lead change. We accept and strive to stay ahead of changes in our industry and our clients’ industries.

We do what’s right. We always act with integrity and don’t compromise on excellence. We don’t take short-cuts that sacrifice quality or our reputation. When we make a mistake we own it and make it right.

Fact of the matter is, for us, relationships rule, and you can’t really have a relationship with a client if you’re just an order taker. Order takers are a commodity. Leaders add value. We take the time to build relationships with our clients by adhering to our Core Values and setting clear expectations and goals, having open communication channels and showing mutual respect.

How do you build relationships in your industry?