Top 5 Marketing Trends for 2013

With 2013 well underway, we need to be aware what trends are on the radar? These are the brand marketing trends that can open significant opportunities or create big challenges over the next 12 months. Is your brand ready for them?

1. Brand Trust: Social media makes it easy for consumers to confirm if a brand really walks the walk and talks the talk. It’s a lot harder to earn consumers’ trust in your brand today, and it will be even harder in 2013.

2. Branded Videos: Video is HOT! There will be an increase in consumers watching videos on computers, tablets and mobile devices in 2013.

3. Hijacking the News:
Newsjacking is about figuring out ways to inject your company into breaking news to generate media coverage for your busines, build more awareness and create more credibilty. This requires fast action to create a connection between the story and your company.

4. Branded Content: In 2012, we saw brands inject out content, yet they had little focus and lacked strategy. Marketers need to develop focused content plans and go the next step and add “call to action”.

5. Brand Accountability: Social media reputation management has never been more important, and brand transparency is critical. In 2013, even the smallest mistake can become a huge public relations problem. You need to be ready with response plans in place to protect your brand reputation.

To Parallel Import or not?

So today I attended a seminar about parallel importing. One of the most hottest topics at the moment. On most topics I have a strong stance, but this is a topic that divides me.

Why might you say?

Yes, I am human, and yes I like things when they are a bargain! I won’t hide the fact that I shop online regularly instead of supporting our local retailers. How can I not, when the savings are significant. Yes, there is GST, sales tax, etc to consider, but if the difference is still exceeded, I buy online. Now that’s on a personal level, now looking it from a business sense. If a retailer can bring in the same goods (parallel importing) at a cheaper rate, rather than purchasing from the authorised local distributor and sell to you at a cheaper price, why would you disagree?

However, on the other side, and having worked on that side, I can understand how and why many want laws tightening parallel importing. As a distributor you source licenses for attractive products, that your retailers are going to want and that are attractive to the consumer. You develop and implement marketing plans, investing in resources and budgets. Yet, someone comes in, parallel imports your product, and rides on your hard work and marketing investment. Not fair, but reality. However, consumers are still better ahead, as they are getting the products cheaper.

So why can’t the distributors offer the same price to retailers, as the parallel importer? Why can’t retailers charge the same for a good in Australia than in the US. This topic is complicated and we would take me all night to look closely into. On the surface:

A big contributor to Australia’s cost structure is housing. The more than a decade-long housing boom provided a ‘wealth’ boost for many. But the creation of this wealth depends on a constant and growing flow of credit into the sector to maintain high prices.

Each new marginal borrower and buyer of property has a much higher household ‘cost structure’ than someone who bought 10 years ago. To pay for ridiculously priced property, people demand higher wages. To pay for higher wages, businesses increase their prices.

The result? A higher cost of living.

In addition, retailers work different in Australia, than they do in the US. The catalogues you get in your letter-box weekly, these are funded by the suppliers. How do they afford these? They increase their prices to the retailer. When a retailer has a discount on a product, in most cases the supplier funds it. How do suppliers budget for these price promotions – in their price. The US system is different, the retailer absorbs these costs, not the supplier.

So where to from here? As indicated, I’m divided. I enjoy the cheaper prices, but can see the damage it’s doing to us on a local level.

Tips into entering social media

Social media is touching and changing brands and consumers. It’s changing the the way we search for information, the way we recommend products, the way we trust brands.

So how do brands enter social media and what should they be aware of?

1. Facebook and Twitter are the building blocks for any brand entering into social media. Brands just starting out in social media should focus on acquisition and filling their channels with the appropriate community. Meanwhile, more savvy brands should look for engagement, awareness and advocacy.

2. Make sure that if you are planning a social media campaign it is connected to the rest of your marketing campaign/media plans. Social media campaigns need to be integrated. If it isn’t – rethink!

3. Social media campaigns aren’t like traditional campaigns. It’s not about analysing results at the end of the campaign. It’s about listening to your consumers and connecting with them, throughout the campaign and long after.

4. Quick hits are good, but meaningful experiences drive long-term relationships and build advocacy and love. It’s okay for campaigns to have goals to drive numbers, but at the end of the day, its about how you plan on engaging with your consumers.

Social media needs to be a united effort in any marketing campaign. Likes can be bought, so it’s not about the numbers. It’s about the relationship and engagement.

Sales vs Marketing: Who is more important?

If you’re a sales-driven company, you may tend to view sales as the moneymaker and marketing as the money spender. And yes, I have worked for many companies with directors that think like this. “All marketing do is want bigger budgets and to spend more”. Yes, that makes my blood boil! Why is it so hard to understand that sales and marketing complement each other, not compete!

Some people argue that Sales is the real job whereas Marketing is just an expense which includes advertising, promotions, public relations, etc. According to that School of thought, Sales is the one who gets you the real revenue whereas marketing just incur expenses. Now this is what frustrates me. Yes, yes I am a marketer, of course I have to justify my job!

Let’s get a few things straight:
- Firstly, marketing is not better than sales… It’s a whole different activity.
- Secondly, selling and marketing are not interchangeable activities. Each one has a distinct definition, purpose and role. However, they CAN work together very effectively, AND SHOULD!

The battle over which is better or more important when it comes to marketing and sales has been raging for as long as anyone can remember. That’s because the cold, hard fact is that sales people aren’t usually too fond of the marketing department and vice versa. The arguments about which one matters most, which one can’t survive without the other, which one should get the most resources are endless. And unfortunately, favouritism for one function over the other when it comes from the top only fuels the fire and undermines what could be an incredibly effective and efficient operation.

But can the sales department really do its job as well as it could without marketing? And can marketing get the job done right without sales? Smart business people know unequivocally that the answer is “no” because both of these functions have a critical role to play in the overall success of any serious business.

Marketing creates awareness of products. Marketing activities such as tv, radio, outdoor, pr, promotions, etc make prospective consumers WANT and NEED your product. This is a long-term investment. On the other sales job is to convince prospective customers to buy the product and close the sale. When compared to marketing, the sales function by its very design produces more short-term results.

So what would be the point of marketing implementing campaigns, if sales had no stock in the channel? Or why should sales be selling products that marketing knows there is no market for? However if both departments work together to devise plans, their activity will compliment each other. This equals plans that will WORK and achieve results!

Marketing with Social Media

All businesses are facing the decision whether to enter social media. Everyone is doing it, so why shouldn’t we? “Let’s set up a Facebook page and just increase the Likes. It’s our new database.” Does this sound familiar? Hang on, it isn’t that simple. There are humans at the other end, and to make social media work you need to build engagement, so that you have loyal fans that are proud to share your brand.

How do you increase engagement?

1. Be personable.
All your messages are being delivered to real people, who have feelings, desires, dreams and dislikes. They are people, not a database of numbers. Make every message personal. Make it seem like personal communication between you and them.

2. Provide information.
People use the internet and social media to search for information. Provide them with information, with content. If you provide them with information of value, they will come back to you for more. Give your followers what they want, so they can appreciate you and you can commence building a thriving engaged community.

3. Involve the audience
Let your followers be part of the conversation. Bring out their emotions, let them show passion and express themselves. Don’t let your followers just read, make them part of the conversation.

4. Reward your followers
Consumers love free things. Share the love!

5. Thank your audience
Thank your followers for participating, for their advice, for their thoughts.

Social media is about building relationships and remember that these won’t happen overnight.

Is all about ROI or relationships?

As marketers, one of the key questions we get asked from stakeholders, is what is the Return on Investment. We have all heard that PR should be x times the amount invested, or experential should be under $x a sample, and so on. But really is ROI the only thing and main thing we should be looking at? 5 years ago, I would have agreed, but now with social media being at the heart of what we do, consumers seeking the opinions of others more and more, we need to relook at how and what we measure.

It all stems from customer experience. It’s the difference between what people expect and the actual level of customer service that will dictate whether or not people will talk about your brand. If you fail to meet their expectations no doubt they will talk about you, and the word of mouth generated will be negative. If you deliver what they expect, the feelings are neutral and customers won’t think twice about mentioning your brand. However, if you exceed their expectations, the wheels starts turning, and what happens is priceless. The consumers talk about you to their friends, they post their experience on Facebook, Twitter, and that’s when you start to see repeat business and referrals.

So how to you exceed customer experience? It’s not just providing them with customer service, it’s doing something beyond the service, beyond what they expect from you, doing something that is almost unusual, that makes a difference to their lives.

At this stage you are probably asking, but what can I do? How do I provide this customer experience. Well here are some scenarios to get you thinking:

A beauty student is looking at buying new equipment, to start working from home whilst she completes her studies. The assistant provides her with information and helps her makes her choices according to her needs. Customer is happy, service has been delivered. The assistant then discusses with her free training sessions that are offered by relevant companies to enhance her skills. The assistant follows up with an email of the training sessions and well as her contact details as a source for any help in starting up. Not only did the customer get her products, but also received valuable tips on how to learn more, and someone that she can rely on for a second opinion. This is where the relationship starts… and continues with the customer. In addition, she also refers all her fellow classmates.

A customer posts on a Facebook of a brand, about receiving her brand new shoes but in the wrong colour. Many would panic and the delete the message, etc. Instead the company posts back immediately, apologising for the error, but also commenting that the right shows have now been shipped and instead the box a surprise is waiting for her. The surprise ends up being the matching hand-bag. Not only has everyone seen that the company responds immediately to complaints, but the customer’s level of service were exceeded. Now she goes back onto Facebook, and tells the Fan page and all her friends about her surprise. This leads to loyalty, and also new business.

Should we measure the ROI of the above? No, as it doesn’t matter, it isn’t important, the relationship matters. Once the relationship is there, the ROI comes.

reMark is up and running

Welcome to reMark!

Well it certainly has been a journey to get to this point!  And a journey I wouldn’t change.  Remark started with an idea…

After working with so many agencies whilst representing big brands, and companies, I saw the good, the okay, the not so good.  I was over the promises, the same stale pitches, and the large account service fees.  I couldn’t understand why agencies struggled to keep or make their clients happy (definitely not saying that they are all like that, as I’ve worked with some great ones over the the years).  So, with that in mind, reMark was born.  I aim to deliver fresh ideas within all sorts of budgets.  I, and the team want to achieve and deliver results just as much as you, the client.

So here we are, sleeves rolled up, ready to get dirty and give your brand the love it deserves…