Predicting trends for 2015

It’s that time of the year when marketing gurus predict trends that will affect business for the next 12 months.

It’s that time of the year when marketing gurus and pundits start making their predictions of the trends that will affect business for the next 12 months.

In reviewing trade journals, newsletters and other marketing-related periodicals, looking for the common threads, it became evident that the majority of trend predictions are virtually the same as last year’s. Here’s what I found.

Social media will not only remain hot as a marketing tool but will continue to outpace other forms of communication. This will be driven by the further development of smartphones, tablets and wearable technology.

Because many people use and have their mobile devices with them throughout the day, marketers will be able to create programs that can target their customer and reach them instantaneously. Think in terms of the apps that alert people to the nearest coffee shop, place a take-out order or make reservations. These are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

With the focus still on building good customer relations at the personal level, as it has been for the past few years, content within communications will be more important than ever. Crucial to content will be the ability to create more relevant, inspiring, entertaining and educational experiences for customers.

The growth in the ability to develop compelling visual stories, particularly through the use of videos, will help companies achieve even greater customer experiences. Not only can videos help explain how a product works through demonstrations but they can help build relationships that have an emotional connection.

Remember consumers care about themselves first … they care about their wants, needs and desires. They really don’t care about you. It is what they can get from you. Content marketing is all about creating information that your customers are passionate about so that they will pay attention to you and your products or services.

Building trust and credibility from last year’s trends has morphed into ‘transparency.’ Customers not only want to be able to feel good about dealing with a company but also want to know that the company has the interests of the consumer, the community, the environment or other societal issues in mind as part of its overall business plan.

The integration of marketing strategies remains on the list from previous years. With people being able to move from one medium to the next at the touch of a button or screen, the need to align social media, print, events and all other tactics under one umbrella with common themes and messages is essential.

Word of mouth also remains high on the list of trends. People still rely on others — friends, neighbours, family — to help them make informed decisions. It is important to create champions for your business. While there is a lot of emphasis being placed on social media, research has shown that the majority of conversations take place at parties, social gatherings and other chance encounters.

Each business will find that there are other industry-specific trends that will impact on sales over the next year. In many cases these trends can have an impact on other businesses or even how you develop a campaign.

For example, the colours that will hit the fashion and decorating worlds can have an impact on the choices you make for how you package your products, design graphics or even how you set up the staging for a video.

While the world of marketing is changing at a rapid pace, there is one important rule to remember. It should be the basis for all you do. It has not changed in decades or even centuries. Rule number one: get to know your customers. If you don’t know who you are talking to, you won’t know what to say, how to reach them or even know what they want.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at joesmith@shaw.ca