2016 Marketing Trends

At the start of the year I was asked to write an article for a client publication looking at the forthcoming marketing trends that were anticipated for 2016, here are my thoughts…

As one year comes to and end and a new one begins the media is full of predictions for what the coming months might have in store. What will be the latest food that we should all eat, what item of clothing will be de rigeur and what will be the must have gadget in 2016. Even the trade press get in on the act taking a look at what will be happening across industry and the marketing journalists are certainly full of ideas.

Whilst most of these trends are aimed at big brands from multi-national organisations with multi-million pound budgets, there is a lot to be learned for any size of business as most consumers will engage with a wide range of products and brands, mixing the mainstream with the more niche or local products and services.

We’re taking a look at a few of the predictions for marketing trends in 2016 and explore how they might be adapted to suit a range of budgets, skills and resource and in doing so we hope to give you so ideas to help your business and brand grow this year.

Strengthening Relationships: Relationship Marketing

Making the sale is the main aim of all business no matter what the product or service, without wanting to state the obvious too much, without sales our businesses are nothing. Finding consumers is a challenge, getting them to be aware of your brand, have a need for it and understand the value are the stages that we all spend a lot of time working on. So why is it that so many people focus on recruiting new customers rather than nurturing the existing ones?

Relationship Marketing is a strategy that focuses on building brand loyalty through customer satisfaction rather than focusing on transactional sales. Essentially it’s about the old adage ‘do as you would be done by’ treat customers how you would want to be treated, with respect and appreciation.

It takes a long term approach, building credibility, sharing useful information, rewarding customers for their loyalty and making them feel like they are a valued part of the business. The key to achieving this is customer knowledge, building information about the consumer base, collating basic contact details, preferences, insights. Much of this can be done either in a basic spreadsheet or via one of the many customer relationship management programmes available such as Salesforce, Less Annoying CRM or a custom build option from your web developer.

Once you have the data; use it! Build a communication plan to map out how often and through which channels you’ll speak to your customers. This could be through newsletters, events, social media or blogs. Provide rewards for their custom such as money off vouchers or golden touches such as a small free gift or a personalised letter (more on that later). The important point to consider is what would make you as a consumer feel valued or make them want to tell their friends and family about your business transaction.

 

Shifting to Automatic

We all lead busy lives and there never seem to be enough hours in the day to complete the tasks on your to do list. Marketing slips further and further down the list always nagging away but often neglected. Thankfully there are plenty of tools, apps and widgets coming out of Silicon Valley designed to make your life easier by allowing you to nurture your contacts and evolve them to a state of loyalty.

Marketing Automation can be as complex or simple as your knowledge and budget will allow. To Amazon or eBay it’s about tracking your every move, understanding what you bought, when, how, what stopped you and more. It then uses that intelligence to persuade you to buy more by putting the right messages in front of you and bringing you back to that point of purchase. For smaller businesses it’s about using the content that you create such as blog articles, testimonials, customer reviews and using that content to build the customer awareness by scheduling social media posts, website articles and e-newsletters. The biggest benefit to you is that most of today’s communication programmes and apps such as Facebook, Hootsuite or Mailchimp will allow you to pre-programme when your messages are being transmitted and will often provide information about when would be the best time.

When used alongside relationship marketing it really does start to not only provide an intelligent way of driving sales but also, if used correctly, reduces the amount of time spent on marketing.

 

Making it Personal

It would seem that we’re all becoming more self-obsessed. Since the word ‘selfie’ entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013 we have continued to fuel this interest in ourselves, sharing photos of what we eat, where we travel and what exercise we have and haven’t done with anyone who will listen. Big brands are continuing to make the most out of this mind set, tailoring products and services to individual (or so they think) customers.

2015 saw a huge number of personalised gift and products, Coca-Cola bottles, bars of chocolate, bottles of whisky or more bespoke items such as any number of gifts from Not On The High Street or Etsy. It looks like this trend is set to continue into 2016, so the challenge is to look at how you can personalise your product? Icing a name on a cake, attaching a bespoke label or even creating a variant for Mother’s Day can all not only ensure that your products are on trend but also, critically, provide that final reason for purchase.

 

It’s Over to you

Whilst these are just 3 of the key areas that the industry predict to see more of in 2016, they do all show the importance of putting the consumer at the heart of all marketing activity. For too long brands have relied on transmitting messages loudly to the masses and it would now seem that as consumers we simply won’t accept that. Instead we want to be treated with respect, talked to as real people and appreciated for our custom. The question is, how will you ensure that you’re doing this in 2016?