A couple of weeks ago we attended the Networx 2013 marketing trends panel discussion to get the low down on what might be big next year in the world of marketing. The main take outs were that technology and social media will continue to evolve and heavily influence our work with new channels creating even more opportunities for marketers and that shareability will be a staple for all successful campaigns whether experiential or online – everyone wants to share what they are seeing, doing, and experiencing.
What sources do you use to keep abreast of industry trends?
I don’t really have one source as such, I have a really diverse range that I draw from. From the Financial Review and The Economist to Wired, Fast Company and independent blogs – I look for anything that’s interesting or inspiring. I tend to use Twitter as a bit of an information filter by following people in the industry that share great reports and articles. It is mostly about interesting stuff rather than big, generic macro trends though.
How much attention do you think we should pay to ‘trends’?
I think the marketing industry is guilty of getting far too fixated with the latest trends. That’s why you see these big waves in campaigns that are essentially the same, as they all follow the same trends, at the same time. You can probably plot a timeline of campaigns from YouTube to Pinterest and see just how similar everything is. The ‘shiny object syndrome’ is one of the downsides of all the great things that are happening from a technology point of view – marketers get too fixated in the what and not the how and why.
Trends are obviously influenced by a number of factors and this makes them quite complicated to try and understand. As a result the marketing industry generally looks at trends far too simplistically. We look at the net effect of human behaviour, not the behaviour itself. We look at the thing that is easily quantified, such as mobile or TV consumption, rather than what people are actually doing. All media companies have data that implies that they are ‘trending’ but they do not answer the fundamental question – what does that really mean for brands?
For example, just because more people are watching more TV than ever before, it doesn’t mean that they are watching more ads. I only have to observe my own behaviour to know that the old model of the un-targeted ad is breaking. I can barely pay attention to one of the 100 repeats on TV let alone the ad break which for me is a signal to do something else.
The same is also true for mobile and social media. Just because there are lots of people using this technology it doesn’t mean we should spend all our money there (although I believe we should be spending a lot more). Our view of marketing is far too grounded in advertising trends rather than behavioural trends. Instead of asking what behavioural trends can help us make people’s experience with our brand better, we just continue to advertise where we think the most people are.
What was the biggest trend you saw in 2012?
Using communications to make the product better certainly got me excited. In a world where there is just too much stuff than I possibly need, people will choose to buy the things that are genuinely different and of value. At Naked our work with the Art Series Hotel is grounded in actually influencing how people interact with the brand and the physical product. The ‘Steal Banksy’ campaign invited people to stay at one of the three hotels and try and steal an original Banksy off the wall. The latest ‘Overstay’ campaign allows you to stay checked into your room until someone else does for no extra cost.
Another example is Red Pizza’s ‘Fridge Magnet Button’. It’s genius. First of all you set up your account and favourite order online and then attach a magnetic button to your fridge. By simply pressing the button your order is sent via Bluetooth and your Smartphone. It shows how everything can be made better, even getting a pizza delivered.
What do you predict will be big in the industry in Australia in 2013?
I think we will see technology used a lot more effectively. It will be less about advertising brands and more about making products and experiences better. The usual suspects such as Nike, Coca-Cola and Intel are already doing this well but I love companies that use technology very entrepreneurially – proving you can be ambitious without big budgets.
How do you think PR will evolve over the next year?
I really value PR. In fact after making a good product I’d probably put PR at the top of my list in terms of where I’d spend money – its influence on culture and the spreading of ideas is really important. However, like advertising (and pretty much every other industry), its going through an important transition period that I think is really exciting. I guess the question is how to redefine what building relations with the public actually means. Is it less about going through intermediaries and more about building direct relationships with consumers? Is it about helping to turn a brand into its own media company and community? I don’t believe there is ever one answer but there are a number of interesting ways the PR industry can evolve.
From your experience how do PR practitioners need to adapt to remain current?
I wouldn’t throw out the traditional skills just yet but looking for people with broader skills is important. Whether it is managing communities, producing content or analysing data, practitioners need broader skills and knowledge to be valuable.
Do you agree? What do you think we will be seeing more of next year?
Posted by Jane Outen