Top Marketing Predictions For 2014

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top marketing predictions for 2014Last year in my 2013 marketing predictions post, I predicted that content marketing would mature in many organizations, that brands would take themselves out of the stories they tell and finally put an end to the notion that marketing equals promotion.

I also talked about the connection between personal branding, content marketing and social selling in a truly social business.

And finally, I predicted that Big Data marketing in real time and the internet of things would become a hot topic for marketers.

I think I had the topics right. I intentionally avoided digital, mobile marketing and social media because those topics have become less interesting as they are simply expected by our digital, social and mobile customers.

But many brands are still struggling to stay connected to the buyer journey. I think we will begin to see a real shift to customer-centricity in the future marketing organization as the data continues to show our buyers tuning out selfish, promotional messages.

I asked this past year if empathy is the secret to effective marketing? And I think that shift will happen sooner and faster than most traditional marketers believe.

In this article on Forbes, I find myself continuing to beat the content marketing drum:

The social, mobile web has digitized information and allowed us all to connect with anyone, anywhere. When we need information, we can find it instantly. But digital disruption is about more than just information. As brands, we need to kill promotional marketing messages and start providing customer-centric information that is helpful to our target customers.

But we need to go even further than that if we want to break through all the noise. One of the biggest trends I am seeing involves brands acting as producers – going beyond the publisher mentality and setting up newsrooms and production studios. Netflix (“House of Cards”), Red Bull (Media House) and Amazon (Alpha House) are just the first wave of this emerging trend.

2014 will be the year of brand publishing. More brands will setup real newsrooms, start producing content like a publisher – content their audience actually wants to consume AND that drives a business result.

Brands will also begin to partner with publishers, not to create “native ads” but with real content partnerships that create valuable information for the brand and publishers websites (paid and owned media) and that moves through the social web (earned media).

Most brands will move from promoting themselves to creating content that is useful to their audiences. Leading brands will seek to entertain their audiences as well and deliver real news.

2014 will be about 3 things: culture, data and content.

The pressure of more customers doing their own research further into the buying process will finally force sales and marketing to transform themselves into truly customer-centric cultures that use data and personalization to deliver valuable, informative and entertaining content.

So while CMOs and heads of sales will need to lead with courage to put customers ahead of worn out notions that overly promotional marketing and the hard sale still works, Marketing and Sales leaders will be setting up enterprise big data platforms to follow customer trends.

In 2014 the content marketing imperative will become clear for more  brands that want to survive (or at least stop wasting their marketing dollars.) They will start creating more visual content like entertaining brand videos and slideshares and vines.

So there you have it.  My rank order for marketing trends to follow in 2014:

  1. Content marketing
  2. Big Data marketing (personalization)
  3. Marketing Technology
  4. Real time marketing or “marketing in the moment” to cover news and hot topics
  5. Social business strategy (social selling + content marketing + personal brand activation)
  6. HR as the marketer for the employer brand
  7. Lead attribution and marketing mix analysis to drive platform investment (web, social, mobile)

Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook  and Google+ or  Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

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Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.

17 thoughts on “Top Marketing Predictions For 2014

  1. Great post Michael – I have seen the process of the blending of work and personal and the real amplification of my passions (which are small business, partner success and SAP Business One) has happened as a result of this.

    My experience tells me that only by being yourself (or authentic, as the buzz word runs these days) can you truly engage an audience and build those relationships.

    As a result of taking the approach you talk about, I have been able to engage with more people in the last 3 years of my career than in the past 23.

    And as a fellow SAP employee, this approach adds a human face to a big brand that has helped me be more successful in working with our partners and customers.

    Mind you, it has not been without some perils and pitfalls – but overall it works!

  2. A lot of what Michael says is true but there cannot be a completely unified identity where both personal and business relationships merge completely The friends you built while at school and later in college, who would have gone into different professions,the guys who share the tennis court or tee off on weekends come to you on FB The chemistry you shared with old school buddies cannot be the same as what you have with your pro colleagues who may be your customers,buyers,vendors or even competitors.These come largely on Linked In But many would be on both What I tweet may be of interest to some….and if you are rich and famous,maybe to everyone

  3. Stepford vs. convergence. Ah yes…I recall early in my career (80s), you were to strap your boots, you get to work, on time, and not a minute late, head down, and dare if you would, bring personality with you. The days of stodgy insurance companies and bank-turned-ad agencies. I will just say that I like TODAY much better, and we are the sum product of our experiences. And those experiences — life and work and friends and the social aspect of our lives — influence how we perform, the ideas we bring, the passion we have, and how we perceive the world. The connections, referrals, introductions, networks, content, and engagement have definitely helped me to drive more meaningful relationships both personally and professionally, solve problems for my community, and to break down barriers of communication. And I am a firm believer in BEING social before DOING social — yeah! Thanks Michael.

  4. Hi Michael,

    This is a really interesting post. I try to use LinkedIn and Twitter for business and Facebook for my social calendar. I even use my maiden name on Facebook and married name on the other sites to keep the separation. However, with all the overlap, I’m not sure how much longer I can keep this up.

    It’s true that you are your brand – whether you’re working on a business project or hanging out with your friends. I like the reference to the 1995 article. It shows you how Fast Company was ahead of their time.


  5. Great article and I love the Lisa Barone quotes. For me I have not yet reached an equal personal & work level on Facebook. In the same situation as you were – a young professional straight out of college – I feel my personal Facebook profile remains a place for friends (and college memories…), while Twitter and LinkedIn is where my professional personality lies. No doubt there are plenty of similarities…but also a few differences!
    Interestingly, Google+ (so far) is really allowing me to put all this together under one roof now. So even if I may behave slightly different to my friends circle than my work circle, at least I can do it all on one platform.

  6. I’ll definitely be sharing this post. My own blog, The Transparent Agenda, examines this emerging social paradigm whereby there can no longer be any separation between who we are and what we do for a living. The advent of instant information sharing makes it increasingly difficult to keep the personal realm at arms length from the professional when communities, both online and “real world” are celebrating a return to personalized relationships of trust, sincerity of passionate purpose and accountability.

  7. Awesome article. This reminds me of how mobile phones have evolved. I think in the late 90s and early 2000s people would use separate phones for business and for personal use. Forward to modern day 2011 and many of us carry a single smartphone. When will TV and Internet become the same thing? Oh wait, that’s already starting to happen. Makes me wonder if the end goal of technology is to blur the lines of everything conceivable.

  8. This issue is sociological in its depth and scope! Mark Zuckerberg is often criticized for his alleged lack of understanding of privacy issues purported to be more adult than he can comprehend. Your post makes the simple observation that there is a convergence of types of information that tends to be deposited within various social media. But was it that the use of the technology in modern times triggered this (unnatural) tendency to de-compartmentalize ourselves? Zuckerman’s critics would seem to be saying so. Or is it closer to the truth to say that our own human nature precipitate that convergence, and the technology only facilitated that very natural change? If so, is that a new phenomenon? Or is it something that always happened to some extent whenever the social environment changed? I’m still pondering, What I am beginning to glean from reading this post is that Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and all the others have probably been responsible for bringing about the type of world that Zuckerberg and many of his generation always lived within their heads. That word may be closer to true human nature than what we had always been forced to practice in the past when we were different things to different people just to survive.

  9. Excellent article and easy to fully understand explanation. How do I go about getting permission to post component of the page in my upcoming newsletter? Giving proper credit to you the author and link to the site would not be a problem.

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