Four marketing predictions for 2014 you should pay attention to

Join me in this blog today, and become an “all-seeing” one.

Join me in this blog today, and become an “all-seeing” one.

Let me start off by saying I’m not a futurist. I’m more a “few months from now” or “what are we having for dinner?” kind of guy. But, I do love marketing—I read about it and do it tirelessly for our clients. Here are four quickly advancing visions I see on the horizon for all of us.

(I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, too… drop me a line in the comments section!)

Big data will get even bigger. For those of you cocooned in your own marketing pupal casing, big data is the ability—a la the NSA—to gather details on a customer’s every move, down to the grain of sand level. That includes online behavior, buying habits, what they do for a living, how they spend their free time, and much more.

Big data gives marketers the ability to truly target an individual with messaging and offers that apply right now. (As I’ve mentioned in other blogs, Target is king of this in the retail space.) But until now, not a lot of brands have really mastered big data. It’s just been a lot of big talk.

In 2014, I think that will change. The murkiness will start to dissipate. As 2014 progresses, more marketers will start learning how to use data more effectively—not just gathering data, but interpreting it and turning it into actionable plans.

What’s more, in the months and years ahead, I believe big data will give a messy birth to a whole industry, and eventually its benefits will be available to nearly all marketers.

This will be the year of imagery. Make that quick imagery. Look at what’s hot right now: Instagram, SnapChat and Vine. All visually driven mediums. They’re each designed to be short form (a six-second video or a single image). This is a direct outgrowth of online video’s continuing, barreling growth, as I wrote about earlier this year. Animated gifs fall into this category, too.

People LOVE cool images, sounds and animations they can share—especially the ones that entertain, delight or inform them and their friends/loved ones/colleagues. It’s why the infographic is now the method of choice to divulge complex issues and ideas. (See some awesome infographics here.) Not everything lends itself to a quick image, but where you can, take advantage of this growing trend in the coming year.

Content will continue its reign as king through 2014. I wrote about this earlier this year, too. For the past few years, brands and companies have been posting, publishing and pontificating—but I’m seeing a distinct effort now to be much more strategic about it.

In 2014, I foresee content marketing getting deeper and richer. In addition to the usual suspects of posts, videos, infographics, articles, case studies and blogs, many thought leaders in marketing also see a time—soon—when brands and publishers work together to create and share content for mutual benefit.

Here’s a totally made-up example: Smithsonian puts together a fascinating history of innovation in America—sponsored and used thoroughly by an “innovative” brand like Samsung. The tie between a brand and its content will be more connected than ever.

I wish I could take credit for this sub-prediction: Some way-smarter-than-me marketers are saying to watch for a new position forming at the big brands… the Chief Content Officer (CCO).

Social media will be as demanding as ever. Actually, more so. In 2014, I believe the tectonic plates of planet social media will continue to fragment—there are more platforms than ever, and that will continue to grow and change. It used to be that marketers only had to deal with the triad of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Now, there’s the upswinging popularity of SnapChat, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr and Vine (not to mention whatever else pops up in the coming year).

Like everything, there’s an up and a downside to all this. The positive is that you have many more ways to engage people and be interesting. The crappy side is that you have many more ways to engage people and be interesting. The key to success, as social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk proclaims, is to be “native” to each platform. In other words, consider the users of something like Vine vs. Google+… think about what the platform does and is capable of… and create content that works with that vehicle to those people. If you don’t, Gary warns, it would be like showing a print ad as a TV spot.

I could go on, but the blogging gods will start demanding a sacrifice, and we’re out of interns. Quickly… there’s also mobile’s omnipresent place at the marketing table, responsive web design to adapt to the slew of gadgets out there, online ad retargeting and so much more. They’re topics I’ll cover, as we watch 2014 unfold. Stay tuned, and Happy New Year.

– Andy Badalamenti is the creative director for CI-Group

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