This Year's Biggest Marketing Trends...

...and how you can leverage them for success.

by Stephen Ekstrom | Fire Starter Brands 

Being in the right place, with the right message at the right time will never go out of style and I have put together some informed ideas about what you can expect from marketing trends in 2017.

Stay focused...

You're probably going to hear a lot about how big businesses are using data to target customers and micro-market their goods and services. This use of data does make it easier to deliver content to very specific audiences but it also requires an enormous effort to qualify the valuable data from the tremendous volume of information available. How are you going to stay focused, engage with your audience and inspire new interactions with your company? It's a big question, but being aware of what's coming can offer some helpful insight. Here are a few trends I see coming in 2017.

It's about the customer experience.

Travel providers have known this for years and the rest of the world is catching on... big time. The customer experience drives every industry. Businesses of all sizes are looking for new ways to effectively market themselves and create positive online conversations with their customers. 

Resource: Organizational Success Starts With An Integrated Customer Experience Model

Take a look at everything you do from the perspective of a first time or prospective customer. Is your content easy to find, understand and interpret? Is your delivery method, design & messaging dated and irrelevant? 

Personalized everything.

We've seen this with products ranging from children's story books to cans of Coca-Cola. The art of customizing products for the marketplace has led to personalization of products for individual consumers. For some businesses, personalizing their products is as simple as recognizing the style and approach that works best with a customer; for others, this may mean streamlining the buying process and making it more responsive to the needs of the intended buyer. 

Resource: The Key to Personalization is Data

How can the travel industry be more personalized? It's easy... customized gifts, display signs and/or a personal welcome from the vendor point of contact make an incredible impact. Birthday greetings, holiday notes and shared recipes can also do the trick. If you have a few moments, set up a google alert for a topic that means a lot to your best customers, when the articles pop up, you've got something to share that is relevant to that customer.

Better video content…and more of it. 

It's happening. Video is going to become more impactful than social content, reviews, blogs and eBooks as consumers can experience a product in virtual or augmented reality. Of course, blogs, papers, reviews & eBooks will remain important marketing tools, but the video will help companies stay current with media trends and consumer desires. 

Resource: Real-Time Video Rocks For Business Engagement

Creating video content isn't as difficult as you might think. Start with a steady camera and tell people what you do. Invite your customers to share their favorite moment with your company or, better yet, capture this video while they're enjoying your product or on a tour. Ask suppliers to provide video clips that you can add to your website. 

Social Media Done Well... 

We're seeing a turning point in social media. Sites that were once used as digital brochures are now being used to promote specific calls to action. Consumers are ignoring the generic content and responding to messages that mean something valuable to them. The time has come to use social media as a pro-active marketing tool to promote sales and services, engaging with your customer base. It's no longer about generic messaging.

Resource: Social Media Is No Longer A Marketing Channel, It's A Customer Experience Channel

Instead of a message that reads "we plan great trips," try "take a balloon ride this summer." Consumers are far more apt to engage with a message that is pointed, specific and exciting than they are to a mediocre message about your company. Stop telling people who you think you are and show them by inviting them to participate. 

Right-time marketing instead of real-time marketing.

Strike while the iron is hot. These days that means taking tips from real-time marketing that has been hot for the last few years and keeping an eye out for opportunities to exploit other marketing hits. One of the best examples of this was Oreo’s “Dunking in the Dark” campaign which used data to capitalize on the best moment to connect with consumers. It's time to transition our thinking from real-time to right-time.

Of course, there's always going to be something new, unpredictable and unexpected. Leave room for you to take advantage of those upcoming revelations. These tips are based on the most successful trends in 2016 and what I think will help you be most successful in 2017. 

What do you expect for 2017? I would love to hear your marketing trends prediction for the coming year.