Today, CMO.com published a wide-ranging compendium of predictions for digital marketing in 2012 by 32 industry leaders. Scratch that – 31 industry leaders, and me. If you have been reading other digital prediction pieces, some of the prognostications will sound very familiar: the rising tide of mobile and tablets, a heightened focus on big data and the stories it tells, social coming of age, shifts from broadcasting to experiential engagement, content marketing, digital integration and convergence…
However, “Digital Marketing in 2012: Predictions from 32 Industry Luminaries” also included really thought-provoking entries that spark more questions than answers in my mind – and maybe you have some thoughts that can help bring more clarity. Consider this from Aseem Chandra, VP of product & industry marketing for Adobe’s Digital Marketing Business unit:
“There are several disruptive technologies that have emerged over the past few years–gamification, 3D video, IPTV, multiuser gaming, and augmented reality. Consumers will continue to lead digital marketers in the adoption of these innovations.”
It certainly does seem as if digital marketers are prone to simply following the herd, reacting to where the masses seem to be headed. Is that a good thing or a bad thing, or both? Should digital marketers be out in front of consumers in terms of platforms, channels, and approaches – or should we simply be reading the tea leaves and then trying to deliver experiences that coincide with the way our constituents seem to want to go? Using Steve Jobs to make a point has become cliche, but it fits here. Jobs didn’t deliver products according to what people told him. He looked at how people lived and interacted with things, and then sought to make a better world with products that no one knew to ask for. Aseem is right – digital marketers for the most part are following trends, they aren’t innovating.
“The Web is full of directional guidance and detailed ‘how to’ tutorials. What’s really needed is better middleware-structured experiences that instill actionable insight to help marketers bridge the gap between the why, what, and how so they can get to the desired outcome.”
The digital age has sped up everything for businesses and consumers, as Jay Baer and Amber Naslund so powerfully articulated in The Now Revolution, and that has led marketers to look for simple plug-and-play guidance and how-tos. The downside to having access to information on anything, anytime is that it is all too easy for digital marketers to resort to stock guidance, tactics, and tools, without enough consideration for the goals, objectives, and strategy. I certainly agree with Gary that marketers need to bridge the gap between the why, what, and how – and much of that can be gleaned from actionable intelligence. But what I think is the biggest problem is that we have too many marketers running at top speed at all times and piggybacking on what others are saying and doing, and not enough marketers actually thinking, really thinking, and then building a customized, cohesive strategy before actually doing. Middleware will be helpful in that context, but it requires a healthy commitment to apply it in the right way from the people investing in it.
“This year we’ll see more premium investment on narrowcasting (reaching the few vs. many to drive deeper engagement with people who truly do value your brand)…”
Segmenting audiences and addressing them according to their defined interests and observed activities is definitely something to aspire to. I think of it more in terms of engaging with many groups of few, as opposed to focusing primarily on influencers or a small subset. There are many subsets, often at comparable levels of importance to your brand.
“Look for a desire for the coolness of beauty–whether a graceful delivery system or a gorgeous product–to escalate.”
Steve Jobs would have liked this one, but he also would have responded that most businesses, most business executives simply aren’t willing to risk making something beautiful, or just plain don’t know how to create an environment in which true beauty and user-friendly design can thrive, and make it to market. That takes strong, gutsy leadership, an understanding of the value of solid creative, and a leap of faith. And none of those come easy.
There were plenty of other great insights that will provoke, inspire, and perhaps piss you off. Check them out and let me know which ones really speak to you. Or which ones you think are totally off-base.
And if you want to see what I offered up for , you can find it here.