Year-end lists have gradually become as traditional as turkey and Christmas pudding. Some review the not-to-be-missed books, films, food, gossip and gimmicks in a final attempt to pick up on any we may have, nonetheless, missed. Others endeavour to predict the future. These are the famous trend lists and marketers are mad about them! Well, they must be, seeing the frequency with which they circulate and are eagerly posted, copied, translated and shared. But what are they worth?
A new year, more lists
Psychologists have a number of explanations for our lust for lists: the need for order and structure, the fear of missing out, a longing for security, the urge to satisfy your curiosity or verify your own insight… All correct, but that still doesn’t explain why there are so many.
The first reason is the increased complexity and specialisation of marketing. There are trends in digital marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, influencer marketing, marketing automation, B2C or B2B environments and numerous other subdomains.
“The more we write, the less gets read. So we make lists and replace punctuation with bullet points.”
And then there is the enormous pressure to produce content. We have to blog, post and tweet and the more we write the less gets read. So we make lists and replace punctuation with bullet points.
Lists as a guideline
But what actually happens to those lists? Are they discussed at the next board meeting? Are they taken into account in defining marketing strategy? Are they made into festive bunting?
For professional marketers, at best they provide confirmation of what they already know or experience and, at worst, they provide a wake-up call.
I have nothing against trend lists. On the contrary, I consider any reflection on our profession to be valuable and I’m absolutely in favour of sharing experiences and insight. As long as we put them to good use! Collect the lists, read them and interpret them for your own business. Stay on the move and don’t submit to the status quo. Stay critical and dare to question yourself. Don’t hang back: dare to be first. Make the difference!
“For professional marketers, at best they provide confirmation of what they already know or experience and, at worst, they provide a wake-up call.”
And now… a list: the 18 most important trends for 2018
A number of inevitable evolutions to inspire you in the light of one important fact: Generation Z is arriving! The oldest members of the Z Generation are now 22 and were 8 years old when Facebook started. They will ensure a swift acceleration of the digital transformation. Ready for the list?
The importance of content will only increase and a number of trends will persist:
1. More emphasis on visual content with a strong focus on video.
2. More demand for personalised content.
3. The importance of influencers and user-generated content is growing.
4. More selective use of social media channels.
5. More live streaming than webinars.
6. Interactive and contextual content are becoming more important.
7. Mobile first (forget PDFs).
8. The possibilities of LinkedIn are expanding, while Twitter is on the decline.
Marketing and technology have gradually become inseparable and anyone continuing to ignore that does so at their peril:
9. Chat bots, AI, machine learning and spoken search commands are becoming day-to-day reality.
10. Augmented and virtual reality are becoming more accessible.
11. Internet of Things and contextual messages offer new opportunities.
12. Marketing automation is becoming more mature and complex with integrated apps, tools, predictive lead scoring and so forth.
13. GDPR is making data even more valuable.
All this, naturally, has consequences for the organisation and structure of your marketing department:
14. The customer or end user is more central than ever; CX and customer centricity form the basis of a successful marketing strategy.
15. Account-based marketing is, for B2B, what personalisation is for B2C.
16. Marketing is becoming increasingly holistic, demanding new, hybrid profiles in your team.
17. An integrated market approach is destabilising internal structures and silos are blurring.
Brands remain important but loyalty is no longer self-evident. The new generation is making its demands known:
18. Authenticity, social and societal engagement, thought leadership content and live events are the ingredients that successful brands will be using in 2018.
As I said, there will be little to surprise a professional marketer in this list, or any other. Trends seldom catch you unawares. Nevertheless, it’s better not to ignore them. You still see companies behaving as if nothing has happened over the past 20 years, simply changing the date on their marketing plan!
And, in conclusion: creativity will always be the most powerful weapon, especially in the content maelstrom. No matter how hip and innovative the latest channels or techniques might be, sooner or later they become mainstream, at which point the how becomes more important than the what. Here’s to a successful 2018!