Ad Age released their Trends to Watch in 2008 recently. Here’s a loose summary of the article with my comments in italics.

MARKETERS HIT A ROUGH PATCH
With growth slowing, fuel prices high and credit tight, marketers will struggle as consumers will reduce spending.

This puts marketing responsibility at a premium. Now more than ever, marketing needs to be done right and done well.

INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY RULE
“Targeting consumers using unconventional methods in creative places will be the gold standard for outstanding creative,” says Bob Liodice, the article’s author. Traditional media won’t go away, but new media will be leveraged heavily.

Due to the glut of products, services and media (and no sign of that growth trend changing), creativity and innovation will always be more important than the year before.

GET SERIOUS ABOUT ACCOUNTABILITY
42% of marketers were dissatisfied with ROI measurements and metrics in ANA’s 2007 marketing accountability study. Marketing and finance still don’t share common metrics in over half of the respondent’s organizations.

That’s why marketing responsibility is so important. In 2008, “companies will appoint a czar — the chief accountability officer — to lead a disciplined, internally consistent approach to marketing measurements, metrics and productivity.”

That would be wonderful and if it happens, a big portion of this blog will become irrelevant It ain’t gonna happen. This has been necessary for over a decade. Will companies just wake up and change their habits? No way.

DIGITAL, DIGITAL, DIGITAL (AND PORTABLE TOO)
So much of marketing is moving to digital delivery. Will marketers be able to keep up?

We’ll see. All B2C companies should be considering how and where their customers get information and delivering it that way — NOW. All B2B companies should at the very least start walking down this path.

My prediction: A lot of talk, some action, but many won’t embrace or leverage much of what some new technologies offer. Case in point: Just look at how many corporate websites still aren’t cross-browser compatible.

THE ‘BRAND SWARM’
Social networking will explode as consumers engage the one another and the marketplace. “Marketers that embrace this trend can form consumer brand “advocates” and drive brand loyalty and trust to new heights — if done responsibly.”

I couldn’t agree more. I’m not sure if social networking is at the tipping point or not, but I know a few hundred 40-to-50 somethings that have jumped in with both feet in the last year.

And yes, it must be done responsibly. The backlash if they don’t will be massive and immediate.

GETTING COMPENSATION RIGHT
The ad agency compensation model continues to frustrate clients. Just 25% of ANA 2007 Trends in Agency Compensation study respondents were very satisfied with their compensation models.

I’ll take it a step further. If the economy gets worse, “agency angst” will only increase with clients. There will be more high profile client/agency divorces and many larger companies will begin to consider less traditional models like virtual agencies and marketing outsourcing.


NEUROLOGICAL MARKET RESEARCH

Market research will finally learn how consumers “neurologically respond to commercial messages and make brand choices,” and this learning will begin to be applied.

This fascinates me. My father had Parkinson’s so I’ve always been interested in how the brain works. I expect significant ethical questions to arise, founded and unfounded, as consumers struggle with marketers’ ability to mentally manipulate them in order to sell another SUV, bottle of bleach or candy bar.


THE POWER OF STRATEGIC ALIGNMENT

In 2008, more CMO’s will be charged with keeping agencies strategically aligned, to make sure “brand messages are fully integrated and synchronized across all media channels.” Some agencies will be asked to lead in this role, as well.

This isn’t new, but it’s more important than ever. It’s all about casting responsibility, and it’s one of the many reasons why I founded Outsource Marketing in 1997. A single point of contact means marketing contractors, agencies and firms are all on the same page and communications are delivered with consistency, externally and internally.


PRIVACY, PRIVACY, PRIVACY

As identity theft continues to grow, marketers will need to deal with the “tug of war between consumer privacy and information access.”

For many, privacy concerns have more to do with challenge of dealing with more unsolicited mail in your mailbox, real and digital. Nearly ten years ago, Seth Godin spoke about this in his book, Permission Marketing. He would tell you if you fail to honor the privacy of your customer, you are betraying your most valuable asset.

I couldn’t agree more, and honoring privacy is one of my firm’s core values.

EMERGENCE OF THE ‘RENAISSANCE MARKETER’
I’ve left this entire paragraph intact:

A new breed of marketing professional is emerging — individuals with a holistic view of the world and extraordinary observational powers. These “renaissance marketers” will be part humanist, part psychologist, part anthropologist and part technologist. Cookie-cutter marketing will no longer survive as marketers must take a broader view of the consumer and customer. This includes the need to be socially responsible and to embrace key trends such as green.

No, I didn’t pay him to write that. Interestingly, Don Schultz, the person who coined the phrase “Integrated Marketing Communications,” called for someone very similar — a marketing generalist that understood how all the pieces fit together — back in the late eighties and early nineties.

The title “RENAISSANCE MARKETER” doesn’t work, though. Now, with social responsibility, green marketing, social media, and other considerations all needing to be a part of this marketer’s skill set, don’t you think “RESPONSIBLE MARKETER” is a much better fit?

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