Challenges on the Horizon for Marketers in 2014

As 2014 rapidly approaches (I can’t believe how rapidly it’s approaching…) businesses are looking ahead to the New Year and thinking of the challenges and opportunities they will face. We recently responded to a reporter’s inquiry about marketing challenges lying ahead in 2014. Here’s our perspective:

There are two key challenges that businesses are likely to face in 2014 from a marketing standpoint: one is evergreen, the other is continuing to emerge:

  • Evergreen: Ensuring that their marketing efforts are cost-effective and generating results. Too often businesses (large and small) implement tactics because they “seem” like a good idea, because an opportunity emerges or because it’s what their competitors are doing – and not because their research has indicated that, based on their goals, objectives and target audiences, these objectives are the ones likely to produce the best results. Along with this, they often fail to put into place methods for evaluating the effectiveness of their marketing efforts.
  • Continuing to emerge: Determining how to most effectively leverage the use of a myriad of online and electronic options to connect with their audiences. These options – like online advertising, social media, mobile, etc., can represent very cost-effective ways to get marketing messages out. Yet, their continuing proliferation can be overwhelming – particularly for small businesses. Which to choose? As with any communication challenge, it goes back to thoroughly understanding their goals, objectives and the attributes and habits of their target audiences.

As organizations and individuals look forward to 2014, they would be well-served to commit to:

  • Looking for ways to leverage both on- and offline techniques to maximize impact. Some “old” techniques like traditional direct mail are seeing a resurgence of sorts as online mailboxes become more and more full and traditional “snail mail boxes” remain relatively empty.
  • Leveraging analytics. Online marketing is extremely measurable — but only for those who take the time to measure the impact of what they’re doing. There are many no- and low-cost tools available for small businesses to test, pilot and expand their online marketing efforts in ways that may sense from a bottom-line, results-oriented standpoint.
  • Considering the value of mobile messaging for their target audiences. Mobile is growing significantly; using mobile advertising effectively is about more than simply sharing an existing web site in a mobile format. There are opportunities for small businesses to explore mobile advertising, the creation of apps, the use of mobile for niche objectives, etc.
  • Avoiding the tendency to discount traditional forms of communication. Many of the “old” techniques, and certainly the “old” methods are still relevant. The basic principles of effective marketing or advertising have not changed, and will not change just because new tools and communication vehicles are emerging. Effective marketing is still about clarifying measurable goals and objectives, clearly defining a target audience, learning as much as possible about that target audience and then creating messages and selecting communication vehicles designed to connect with and compel that audience to some desired action.

As 2014 approaches, you can’t go wrong if you simply commit to thinking logically about your marketing communication efforts. Identify your goals and objectives, specifically target and learn as much as you possibly can about the audiences you wish to influence, and choose communication tactics most likely to generate the results you seek.

It really is as simple – and as complex – as that.

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