2017 was a rollercoaster year – that’s something few will deny. Whether it was good or bad probably depends on where in the world you are, and what you believe in. I found much of the global politics disturbing (I won’t go there in this blog post), but on a personal level – I successfully launched my business, got my first clients, and launched projects that I’m proud of.
In the marketing world, things were pretty transformational too. The industry has steadily been embracing digital marketing techniques for years. However, in 2016, the world realised social media had the power to influence huge swathes of the population. This was a watershed moment for any business still on the fence about the power of the internet, and in 2017, we saw companies big and small go all-in. Digital marketing is now just marketing.
Chatbots, video, live streaming, remarketing, personalisation, automation, purpose-driven marketing and influencer marketing all made huge strides in 2017. But at times, this was little more than a distraction from the thing that truly makes good marketing: having a great product.
As consumers get smarter and more suspicious of the ways marketers manipulate them, I expect three techniques to grow exponentially in 2018: brands will be more authentic (i.e. less bullshit) in their marketing, businesses will seek a smaller but more targeted circle of influence, and companies will start to support causes that align with their brand.
1. Businesses Will Cut the BS
Whether it’s fake news, dodgier-than-ever politicians, covert native advertising or creepy remarketing ads, consumers are getting tired of being misled and manipulated. Every company on the planet claims they’re honest and they have integrity; the really good ones are able to prove it.
In 2018, we’ll see more businesses opt to “own their truth”. They’ll realise that while it’s possible to amass large followings, plenty of website visitors, and expand their reach with online ad campaigns, it doesn’t mean much unless people actually believe what you’re saying and ultimately buy what you’re selling. This year, we’ll see businesses being more honest with their customers.
2. Businesses Will Target “Their People”
The nature of the internet and social media means consumers have access to a wider range of information than ever before. However, all of the content which reaches a global audience does so because it has universal appeal. Chances are, unless you’re a global mega-corp, whatever your business is selling does not have global appeal. It doesn’t matter how good your artisanal kebab shop is, it will only ever appeal to people who like kebabs.
More and more businesses are realizing that “everyone” is not their target market, because everyone is not going to want or like their product. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In 2018, more businesses will embrace the people who actually want their product, and aren’t going to worry so much about influencing others or reaching a broader population.
3. Brands Will Have Purpose, With a Purpose
As noted in Marketing Week, purpose-driven marketing has been on the rise over the last few years, with companies looking to “do well by doing good.” This has led to brands supporting plenty of deserving organisations and movements, with some failing to choose causes that people associate with their brand. Without connection, this practice can seem cynical and insincere.
In 2018, we’ll certainly continue to see the growth of purpose driven marketing. However, as brands come to terms with consumer desire for authenticity in the companies they support, the causes they support will begin to more accurately reflect the values that customers associate with their brand.
What will 2018 mean for your business?
There will no doubt be many other marketing trends that will shake out over the course of the year, but we think these three themes will play a big roll. Looking ahead, think about what innovations you expect in your industry, and how these changes will be marketed more successfully. This practice will be crucial to consider your customer base and how they might be different from the larger population.