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MARKETING: Marketing Trends in 2013
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Entering 2013, it is appropriate to look at some of the marketing trends that experts are foreseeing will be dominating the coming year. At the end of 2012, most of the strategic planning and budgeting has been done for 2013, but it is not too late to look more specifically at some of the shifts and tendencies that marketers should be aware of the coming year – and maybe adjust your planning and budgeting accordingly.
Many articles and blogs are giving their take on 2013, and this article is describing the four most dominating predictions for the coming year made by marketing experts across the world.
Content continues to be King

Content marketing is no longer a marketing buzzword, it is a huge and growing area of just about every successful brand’s marketing effort. The demand for content is huge and having more and more content to provide is critical for most brands, and so curating content from partners, and even competitors, will be necessary. Furthermore, “creating once, publishing everywhere” will be a mantra for 2013. This means creating highly adaptable modular copy and image formats that can help make the expensive practice of winning content creation more efficient. Content management systems will begin to adapt to this broader need and marketing teams and budgets will too. 
So what kind of content? Well, to build trust and loyalty, brands will be uncovering stories within their overarching story. One buyer might be looking for eco-savvy products or services, while another one might be looking for premium quality. If the same product or service can serve both these needs, then both kinds of audiences need to find your brand – and they will need micro stories to relate their specific buyer persona to your brand. So a 360 degree view of the company will reveal many useful facets for essential storytelling. As the need for quality, originality and storytelling increases, marketers are hard pressed to come up with enough content and this may lead to more content creation being outsourced as in-house resources become exhausted or do not meet the quality standard. Furthermore, more and more content needs to be easily digested by the consumers and so it has to come as visual content such as video, image, custom illustrations, illustrative animation and info graphics. 
How is the content consumed? To a large extent, gaming and ‘gamification’ is how content is deployed and used. The emphasis on the stickiness of content through its entertainment, reward and learning qualities will become more important and will be a competitive differentiator. Social networks are expanding faster than anyone can really quantify and mobile technology is illuminating the problem of content hopping and short attention spans. This will increase the demand for content that engages in near real-time, with relevant content to keep the audience interested. The concept of ‘SoLoMo’ (social, local, and mobile) has come true in how consumers want content.
Why are companies doing this? Top goals for content marketing in 2013 will be sales and retention. B2B content marketing tends to be more oriented towards generating leads and sales, and B2C brands tend to be more oriented toward goals of retention and creating word of mouth. Today, most marketers use traffic as their main measurement criteria, but since content marketing is maturing as a marketing tactic, it is foreseen that more and more marketers will begin to measure in more tangible terms such as sales and leads. 
As brands embrace social media and its potential to engage in meaningful conversations with their loyal fan base and potential clients alike, the new mantra is now that brands need to act as publishers. In fact, some say that content marketing is the new advertising. So this is not a complete new trend, but it will be a new way of working with it and the importance of it will increase significantly.
Strategic social media – not just social media

Social media is not a new trend either, and you can argue that this trend for 2013 is a very natural next step within the concept of social media. Today, brands are now realising and structuring themselves in order to better reflect the fact that social media is not a marketing function; it is a business function. Therefore, many companies engage their marketing, customer service, human resource, communication, sales, research, IT, legal etc. in-line with social media. alt
Many brands have set up accounts or pages on Twitter, Facebook, Googe+, Pinterest and LinkedIn and now what? Well, trial and error is fine up until a certain point. Moving forward brands need to take a few steps back and make sure resources are allocated according to priorities and corporate objectives. In other words, what is the strategy? While this should have come in the first place, it is never too late to reassess the situation and tweak tactics according to a revisited strategy. Do not just be represented in social media, because you have to and everybody else is doing the same – be there with a plan and a purpose!
Social crowd-sourcing is also important to mention when talking about 2013 and social media. Crowd-sourcing through social media platforms is nothing new but remains very much under-utilised. Many organisations still conduct expensive focus groups on a regular basis when they could seek out equally relevant insights from Facebook fans or newsletter subscribers etc. Starbucks has been a leading brand in doing this with its MyStarbucksIdea.com site seeking feedback from its customers.
Technological advancements

The technology keeps evolving and this will have a direct effect on how to do marketing and therefore it is worth mentioning when looking at marketing trends for 2013. 
First of all, the tablets. It will be a more and more profound way of consuming marketing messages and it will continue to boom in 2013. It is no coincidence that Apple recently launched the iPad Mini, while Samsung keeps coming up with variations of its popular Galaxy models in this device category. Google competes with its Nexus 7 while even Microsoft also decided to join the party with its highly anticipated Surface. Customer behaviours with these devices have everything to appeal to most marketers – more time spent on web pages, higher conversion rates and so on.

Another growing technological possibility is mobile payment. At the moment, it is a bit of a Wild West and it seems that every retailer is doing their own thing, with different mobile payment solutions available, such as Google Wallet, PayPal etc. Maybe 2013 will tell us who will be the market leader within this sector. However, no matter who will be winning the game this is a significant technological advancement for marketers since online buying on-the-go is getting easier and more common. 
The Expectation Economy

Over the past decade, customer expectations have increased by 28%, but brands in all categories overall have kept up by only 8%, which anyone at the check-out counter can tell you is a very big gap between what brands offer and what customers desire. Accurate measures of real – and often hidden – expectations provide significant advantages to brands that understand their value and point to how to satisfy customers. So even though we have talked for many years about the importance of consumer insights and many research companies are appearing and being very professional, it seems like marketers are still missing out in this field. 2013 will be a year with continued focus on this and on the Expectation Economy in particular. 
To illustrate this, one of the growing expectations among customers is ‘buying green’. Producing, selling and shopping based on environmentally green production and design, fair-trade and socially conscious consumption is on the rise. But given the ease of consumer outreach and their ability to pull back the brand curtain, watch for significant increases in total sustainability and corporate responsibility in the consumers’ decision making process. This expectation is being taken to another level by the consumers but not by the brands (generally speaking) and so this illustrates one of the gaps in the Expectation Economy. 
Not always online

This is not a trend for 2013, but more a closing remark. When looking at the predictions for 2013, most marketing trends are to be found in the online sphere. However, remember that there are still many consumers who prefer to use a call centre or deal with people in real life. Furthermore, television advertising is far from dead. This is true everywhere, and very true in China. Television ads will begin to incorporate more and more social integration. Television advertising will also incorporate ‘second screen experiences’ whereby a TV programme’s tablet app, mobile app and discussions will be promoted and encouraged on social media platforms. Content creators will need to create assets than can live across multiple screens seamlessly. So television advertising will continue to be important, just in another way than before. 
This is some of the dominating marketing trends for 2013. It will be exciting to see what else arises during the year.

 By Heidi Skovhus
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