The way of the warrior is to master the virtue of his weapons.
Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings
The best marketing decision you can make is to have a product or business that fulfills a real and compelling need for a real and defined group of people – no matter how much tweaking and refining this takes.
Ryan Holiday, Growth Hacker Marketing
Another year, another stack of overbaked marketing platitudes and re-re-tweeted social media clichés. Yet, something truly new is shimmering on the horizon. In 2014 we believe marketing-as-we-know-it will undergo a dramatic sea change, driven by increasingly powerful mobile technologies as well as a significant transformation in marketing objectives. In short, the days of mass awareness and brand building are giving way to a laser-like focus on customer acquisition, retention, and sales growth.
A succession of billion-dollar apps like DropBox, Airbnb, and Instagram have demonstrated the potential for high levels of sustained viral growth without the use of traditional marketing channels, or budget. This eye-popping level of performance within the mobile app marketing is forcing traditional product marketers to reexamine many of their most cherished notions, approaches, and success metrics. Whether it’s called “growth hacking,” “customer engagement,” or “content optimization,” the overall trends of precision, testing, and adaptability will usher in a dramatically new marketing landscape in 2014.
Of course, with a new way of marketing will come a whole new menu of marketing clichés, so catch ahold of these while they are still steaming hot out of the hype oven! These are the ones that will matter in 2014 and beyond:
1. Micro Location Marketing
Apple just turned on iBeacon in 254 Apple stores to much fanfare. What has gone unappreciated, though, is the fact that every iOS device sold in the last two years is primed to become an iBeacon. In other words, the world of personalized marketing as you walk around, à la Minority Report, is about to be born. According to Wired Magazine, “Multiple beacons can triangulate your position at distances anywhere from 100 feet down to just a few inches, heralding a new era of digital experiences based on ‘microlocation.’ Retailers are already talking about things like in-store navigation and dynamic pricing, all made possible by beacon-enhanced retail locations. For independent shops, iBeacon is a chance to jump into the smartphone era with one fell swoop. A $100 beacon is all it takes for even the mustiest book store to track customers, make recommendations, and offer discounts to customers’ pockets.”
While we may not want to rip our eyeballs out like Tom Cruise’s character in Minority Report, this new level of tracking and micro-targeting will certainly raise awareness levels around permissions granted to location-based services.
2. Personalized Content Love
It used to be that no kind deed went unpunished. Now, no kind deed goes un-tweeted. Knowing full well that any unusual event or marketing gesture is surely going to be captured by an army of smartphone-toting citizen reporters, savvy marketers have begun to reach out to individual bloggers, customer champions, or in some cases even random customers who happen to be passing by, and rewarding them with tailored gifts, insider tips, and more. Wine salesman- turned-marketing guru Gary Vanderchuck describes these little touches of love as “jabs” and spends a large portion of his time reaching out to individual followers with love and attention. A holiday video by WestJet Airways shows an example of this one-to-one customer love taken to new heights as a virtual Santa Claus in the departure lounge allows for personalized presents to roll off the baggage claim at the destination city, much to the surprise and delight of the tweeting, video-taking passengers.
3. Augmented Reality for Real
Augmented Reality has been slowly gaining traction over the last several years but is mostly deployed in narrow niches and one-off “stunts.” However, as image recognition software continues to grow more powerful and we see an explosion of screen types, Augmented Reality is poised to become a routine tool in the marketing toolkit. Whether used for highlighting information at trade shows, overlaying personal information, assisting with clothing purchases, or simply providing entertainment, entire new levels of data immersion are going to be woven into our daily lives. Of course there is no AR more fun than a real-live magic mirror, especially when it takes you back to your earliest days like this year’s most-watched ad from Evian.
4. Instagramation Nation
Instagram turned three years old in 2013, and this oversized social media toddler, under the wings of its new Facebook parents, already has more than 150 million users. Each day on the “Gram,” 55 million photos are shared, garnering more than 1.2 billion likes. Equally impressive, many of the top brands in the world such as Nike, Victoria’s Secret, Starbucks, Mercedes-Benz, and Urban Outfitters are not only using Instagram but seeing Instaresults!
5. To Reach Me, Teach Me
As content marketing continues to evolve, customers will quickly begin to appreciate marketing material that actually helps them use product X to solve problem Y so that they can quickly get Z results in their lives. This simple formula is not very remarkable, but what is remarkable is how complicated and confusing many brands make their positioning and selling proposition. As Harvard professor Theodore Levitt famously noted 30 years ago in The Marketing Imagination, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”
What this means is that just because people buy your drill it doesn’t mean they are happy customers unless they can actually get the drill working and make their quarter-inch hole. In today’s world, the difference between a happy customer and a madly tweeting unhappy customer often lies in the quality of at-home instruction received about how to use the product successfully. Retailing giant Home Depot is one example of a company that has taken this idea to heart, creating hundreds of useful “how-to” videos for their customers.
While it is easy to get caught up in the drama and excitement of new digital technologies, the real transformation for marketing in 2014 lies in what those technologies will enable – a precise, measurable, and growth-centered platform that reaches customers wherever they are with warmth, feedback, and useful instruction. Who knows? These qualities might just become marketing clichés that stand the test of time.