Small and Midsized Company 2016 Marketing Communications Forecasts
You’ve likely seen the 2016 forecasts, which refer to 2016 as an “OK year,” with US GDP growth of approximately 2.6 percent, unemployment of 4.8 percent and wage growth of 2.7%, and increased volatility within financial and political realms.
This outlook is not what a B2B, nonprofit or B2C marketer would want. The December Chief Executive Magazine’s Confidence Index for the year ahead has dropped to its lowest level since June 2014.
Marketing Communications Forecasts
It can be challenging to know where you should start when there are so many tactical and macro strategic issues. However, corporate and non-profit marketers will still need to make business decisions. Here are my top five forecasts to help you plan your next year’s marketing communications.
1. The current client-agency relationship is fragile. There will be an increase of outside marketing communication consultants and groups to assist small and medium-sized companies.
Client distrust in agencies has led to a weakening relationship between agencies and clients over time. This is due to the significant overhead of larger agencies. The Association of National Advertisers (ANA), for example, recently hired two consulting firms in order to investigate claims of unreported rebates in digital media flowing towards agencies. The American Association of Advertising Agencies is not involved in the ANA’s work, much to their dismay.
It’s no wonder that $30 billion was under review in 2015. Transparency is the new black.
2. Market research and data analysis will be crucial to content marketing as marketers learn how to provide more relevant information to prospects and customers.
The economic viability and sustainability of digital media are at risk due to the fact that 45 million Americans blocked ads in the second quarter of 2015, an increase of 48 percent over the previous year. This all adds up to a unique opportunity for marketers to give customers, prospects, and donors better information once they understand their needs. Take a look before you leap.
3. Marketers will be able to determine the success of their marketing and sales campaigns by how they gather, analyze, and integrate data about prospects and customers.
According to Gartner, 69 percent of marketers expect data to be the driving force behind most of their business decisions by 2017.
All agree that there is an inordinate amount of data. This is the good news. It’s the art of understanding it and communicating its implications clearly and effectively. This skill set is essential for marketing communications ROI.
4. 2016 will see political advertising dominate media. This will cause many small and medium-sized businesses and nonprofits to be priced out and find it difficult to obtain and/or afford many marketing and tactical media services.
Advertising Age predicts that media will account for 54% of all spending in 2016, while other marketing services will account for 46%.
Direct marketing will account for a third of all spending. Television is next at 23 percent, and digital at 15%. Newspapers and sponsorships are each at six percent. Flexibility and media neutrality should be a priority more than ever.
5. Despite the constant emergence of new online marketing strategies, human connections will continue to be more critical than ever.
Digital marketing has opened up a new avenue for effective awareness building and fostering dialogue. It has also created a lot of clutter.
You may need to use the old-fashioned face-to-face relationship method if you want to close a deal. Nearly eight in ten B2B or B2C marketers use face-to-face events for this purpose. Employees who are knowledgeable about the product and have a genuine belief in it can bring a level of authenticity, sincerity, and emotion that is missing in digital conversations. Your employees are not only brand ambassadors but also valuable sources of customer feedback. Use them!
Many other areas of prognostication are worth mentioning, including mobile, native ads, baby boomers and millennials, internal communication, ROI measurement, videos, and so on. But I believe that the forecasts mentioned above will have a significant impact on 2016, as well as the years ahead. Now comes the question of what to do with them.
Marketing Communication Consultants add value.
Consumers, buyers, and donors will have to be more informed and demanding in order to make the most of all the changes that will occur over the next few years. They will also need to be more careful about spending their money. Rapid technological changes have created a media environment that is “always-on.” A recent Forrester Research study found that nearly a third of marketers feel overwhelmed by the pace of change.
2016 will be the year for people and not technology, media, brands, or companies. Nearly all companies, tiny and medium-sized ones, have people who are stretched beyond their limits and/or lack the expertise or background to deal with the challenges of 2016 marketing communications.
Many nonprofit and for-profit organizations are now partnering with senior-level consultants to help them develop, refine, and, if necessary, implement ROI-focused programs. You should look for people who have extensive brand and industry experience across large and small organizations. Candor is a must. Make your future brighter than your past.