Very soon the days will sprint past December and into 2019. Another decade will come to a close. While the year 2018 has been an interesting one for brands with chatbots, voice engagements, Instagram and Artificial Intelligence top of mind for most brands, the end of this decade is a bridge to the beginning of the 2020s and all rules are out the door. In fact, from our preliminary forecasting, what we’re seeing is very human and filled with creativity in a world awash in data and technology. Here’s what you should be thinking about now as you ready for fiscal year brand planning in 2019…
1. Quirky Brand Influencers Are the New Spokespeople – Conformists and celebrities are boring. By trying to appeal to the masses they appeal to no one. Brands need to understand that there are customers and then there are “customers.” What I mean by this is there are always niche groups of customers who go above and beyond and really support the brand. So a brand that actually takes one of these influential personas online and converts them into their spokesperson becomes unique and interesting compared to someone who probably has never even used the brand.
2. Post Digital and Phigital Will Be Common Utterances – What we mean by this is digital is no longer the sole way to reach people. That was the big talk of strategists for much of the 2010s but now people are living everywhere. And that means assuming digital ads will be the answer is not thinking long and hard enough about behavior. People live online but we live in the physical world and sharing stories isn’t limited to what one shares on a social network. This means brands who can be more creative and holistic and tie the matrix together have a better chance of reaching people and retaining them. An example of physical brands going digital and vice versa? Now we have brands born in augmented reality and then becoming physical. There is no single path to success.
3. Why Are Sales and Marketing Departments Sitting in Silos? – Companies who say, “That’s the job of sales,” or “Hey marketing, give us enablement materials,” will fail fast in 2019. In Disruptive Marketing I spoke about the need to become a hybrid within marketing. But now that isn’t even enough. Sales and marketing not only need to collide but blend and become a whole new animal. A whole new way of emotionally being that simply hasn’t existed for much of the 21st Century. Sales isn’t about selling, it’s about coaching and connection. Marketing isn’t about marketing as much is it is about education and enablement. Brands that have one team with hybrid skills have the advantage.
4. Customers Drive Brands, Not the Other Way Around – Brands still assume they dictate the rules. But we’re in a customer’s market and may always be in one. Using the analogy of real estate, when you’re in a seller’s market you can make the buyer jump through a number of hoops before considering selling to them. But when it’s the other way around it is concession central. Brands need to think in the latter. Assuming people will follow what you dictate to them means you’re not really listening or empathetically understanding them.
5. Brands Who Create, Compose and Coach Will Lead – As automation continues to pick up speed there is less of a need to talk to anyone at a brand or rely on any of their content or owned information or knowledge to make a decision. In fact, almost everything is in the hands of the decider. But there is a way for brands to break through this and stand as one with their customers. Using the example of a clothing retailer, instead of that retailer saying, “We created these fashions for you to consume,” the new create attitude is, “We created tools for you to design your own fashions.” Instead of saying, “We’ve composed the ad campaign for you to aspire to,” the new compose attitude is, “We’ve partnered with our customers on our communications.” And instead of saying, “We know best because we’re the brand,” the new coaching attitude is, “We are always learning and learning based on our customers’ needs in the world.”
Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider: Geoffrey Colon, Head of Brand Studio, Microsoft, author of Disruptive Marketing and Host of Disruptive FM sponsored by Branding Strategy Insider.