The 3 big marketing fallacies for 2013

The start of each year is always accompanied by a rush from everyone to make their predictions for the next 12 months. While I’ve obviously got my own thoughts on the subject, I thought I’d do something different. My good friend Jonathan MacDonald has used Fallacies as a theme of sorts for a few years now, so in the creative spirit, I’m adopting the idea with the 3 big marketing fallacies which all businesses need to overcome.

Having worked with a huge range of brands and clients over the years, there are certain issues and concerns which I know will increase in regularity over the next 12 months. So identifying and tackling them now as part of your strategy for 2013 will be key in having a successful year with less problems.

 

2013 Marketing Fallacy 1: Content Quantity not quality:

The recognition of how content has become increasingly important, and the rise of content marketing is a good thing for various reasons. Content has always been vital to the success of a business since the rise of print and broadcast media, and the internet has only increased this need.

But almost inevitably I predict companies will invest in large amounts of content, either internally, or from external suppliers who are able to churn out copy, images and audio at bargain prices. And 12 months later will look at the time, effort and cost with little resulting success.

The reason is simple. More content has already been published online than previously in the history of human existence. None of us are short of things to watch, read, play or hear. Most of us will have returned from Christmas with a backlog of emails, RSS feeds, and podcasts, having finally caught up over the holidays on the Tivo’d and DVR’d films and TV shows which we’d been meaning to watch for weeks and months. And now every brand is going to be pumping out an endless stream of content marketing to add to the noise level.

Although it’s certainly possible that many businesses could increase the amount of published content, the priority should be to first develop an effective content strategy and improve the quality of what is already being produced. One amazing piece of content will be far more effective in building a brand and converting readers to customers than five pieces of generic filler material.

It’s why we focus on how content most effectively fits with a business, and on the most effective strategy as a starting point, and it’s also why we provide quality outsourced content to clients. Our work needs to be the best for us to be a sustainable business – reselling the cheapest writers we can find around the internet will soon lead to disappointment for all involved.

 

2013 Marketing Fallacy 2: We need more Facebook/Twitter/etc

This could have been published at any time in the last 5 years, but still holds true. It’s particularly important for those businesses still entering digital marketing, or those who don’t look at the attribution model for sales/enquiries in enough detail.

The most important website to optimise for digital marketing and sales is your own. It’s the only location where you have complete control over look, feel, layout and content, and can create the ultimate site for your business. It’s also a place which can be backed up effectively, and can be easily publicised and advertised without relying on a third party brand.

I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t include the right social media outlets in your digital marketing. As someone who provides social media marketing and consultancy, I firmly believe that the relevant third party platforms are essential for a modern business. But they should be part of the ‘hub and spoke’ model which has often been discussed – your website at the centre, and third party platforms operating as the spokes to reach people in the locations they currently enjoy.

If all your traffic comes from any single source – search, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc – then you’re completely at the mercy of that platform and any changes they make. Whether it’s Facebook reducing the reach of Page updates, Twitter falling out with Instagram, or the acquisition of Posterous, you’ll have built your business on ground which can be shakey or indeed disappear completely if the service closes.

 

2013 Marketing Fallacy 3: It’s all too much

With search, social, newsletters, analytics and more to manage, it’s no surprise that digital marketing can become somewhat overwhelming. Marketing has always had a variety of demands and inputs, but the rapid changes enabled by the internet can mean that everything starts to pile up very quickly.

The result is that small businesses feel that they can’t compete, and large businesses quickly end up making mistakes due to a confused sprawling mess of accounts and responsibilities.

Hence why the strategy and planning is so important to effective digital marketing. A small company with limited resource has a great opportunity to compete on a comparatively level playing field compared to the costs of a national TV advertising campaign, for example, but needs to be laser-focused to use those resources most effectively. Meanwhile a larger business needs just as much clarity in order to co-ordinate a larger range of initiatives. And both need to plan for their efforts to constantly evolve even throughout the space of just 12 months as platforms and priorities change.

A good strategy should enable you to focus on the key areas of your digital marketing, with time and resource built-in for experimentation, evolution and learning to give you a good platform for this year, and for the future.

What’s in store for microblogging in 2010?

A guest post by Lauren Fisher, who specialises in online PR and social media at Simply Zesty – and can be found on Twitter at @laurenfisher.
As we look forward to a brand new year, I’m sure the burning question on everyone’s lips is – what’s going to happen to microblogging in 2010? In a year that saw Ashton Kutcher reach 1 million followers on Twitter and MSN launch their own microblogging service (and MSN China clone Plurk – Dan), the next year certainly has a lot to live up to. Here, I offer a few of my own predictions for microblogging in 2010, with Dan’s thoughts below.

Increased use in organisations

I’m talking here about internal use of microblogging, as a way for colleagues to collaborate and communicate with each other. We’ve seen Google Wave emerge as a tool for professional, organisational use and I think this is the path that microblogging will take in 2010. I’ve already written on here about my thoughts on Yammer (which I still stand by) and I think we will see microblogging tools play a bigger role in internal corporate communications, as an easy and efficient way to communicate with each other. The benefits of realtime will be no more paramount than for businesses.

Dan: Totally agree, although I’m not sure I’d pick Yammer out as the key product in this area – the move is towards integrating microblogging as part of a collaborative and project management toolset – e.g. Salesforce Chatter. The novelty of an ‘internal Twitter’ is fine, but doesn’t convert those who don’t like Twitter, or those happy to DM via Twitter already. Integrated tools give reasons for people to get involved.

Twitter Declining

I won’t be the first, or last, person to say this but I think Twitter may have reached its height of popularity and I think numbers will start to dwindle, albeit slowly. The love affair with Twitter has been exciting, but it might just be over. The avalanche of spam accounts has a part to play here, but I think that when Twitter reaches its highest point of saturation, is conversely when you start to lose value in the site. It has become incredibly noisy and I am beginning to question the real use of it.

Dan: I agree to some extent. I think some of the expansion already has been down to a huge number of spam accounts, and it’s something Twitter has started to tackle, but will always be a huge problem. The lesson here is to learn from the most popular 3rd party apps – Tweetdeck and Seesmic for example, which allow far better filtering than Twitter itself. The noise levels don’t bother me too much because I’m fairly selective about who I follow (Hard to believe when I’m following almost 2k people!)

Microblogging as customer service

I think that more and more companies will embrace microblogging in 2010, beyond the extent we’re seeing now. Businesses will realise the potential of microblogging as a customer service platform though, rather than a place for sexy social media campaigns. I don’t think there will be many more hashtag competitions, we’ve had pretty much every variation of these! I hope that more companies will realise the value of microblogging to source and, most importantly, solve issues for customers. As consumers, we are expecting everything to be solved in real-time and this is what we’ll expect businesses to cater to. The power of crowdsourcing will also be recognised more and we’ll see more companies opening up product development to the masses.

Dan: Totally agree that almost every company should be using Twitter as an integral part of overall improvements to customer service. I expect to reach any tech company via Twitter, and those that do have an active role tend to respond quickly and get my repeat business!

No to video microblogging

It’s not an area that’s really taken off and I don’t think 2010 will be the year for video microblogging. Some sites have made a good attempt, such as Vidly, but once the initial shine wears off the uptake is slow. I simply don’t think that microblogging lends itself to video. A quick text update is one thing : shooting, uploading and tagging a short video is another. We’re still not as comfortable in front of the camera as we are in front of the keyboard and I don’t think this will change any time soon.

Dan: Damn it – this is an area that comes back to haunt me after I made a prediction on video at a conference that Seesmic’s original video blogging platform would take off in 2009. And I was wrong for exactly the reasons above. I’d say for the over 20s, audio blogging such as Audioboo is more accessible. However, I think there’s a huge group of teenagers who are very accustomed to broadcasting themselves on Justin.tv and Ustream. If someone taps into that market and can lure them away from sites which are heavily integrating with Facebook, Twitter etc, then we may see video microblogging take off in a couple of years. It’s also likely to be primarily mobile, and the odds are people will still video other people rather than themselves…

Location –based microblogging

If Twitter is to continue growing in 2010, I think the answer could be in location-based services. As mobile internet usage rapidly increases, we’re all going to be using location services more. If we can make real connections on Twitter with those that are physically close to us, as a more integrated part of the whole microblogging experience, this could prove incredibly popular. Integrating tweets at real-world events such as concerts and sport events will also become more popular, bringing people physically together.

Dan: Totally. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more integration between location, microblogging and special offers, but that’s definitely going to arrive this year – look at mobile social location games like Foursquare, or Google stepping up their location-based efforts. And events are a huge influence on bringing people together on Twitter – the FA Cup, the Superbowl, Eurovision etc as examples…

Integration with sites

As more people will be moving away from Twitter itself, I think microblogging will play a bigger part in existing sites. The new redesign of LinkedIn sees the now familiar stream of status updates with more prominence and I think this is probably the way many sites will go, including email services, encouraging even further interaction between people through short updates. As we become increasingly productive online in 2010, we’ll expect the microblogging functionality to feature more heavily in sites we’re already visiting, than having to go to a separate site.

Dan: Twitter, Facebook and Google are the three services that you should expect to seemlessly be integrated into almost every site you visit in the next 6 months. Each one is becoming very close to the single unified ID many people have talked about…

Microblogging in 2010 – what do you think?

Are print magazines a safer bet than newspapers?

I’ve probably spent as much time thinking about the future of print magazines in the couple of weeks since I left the magazine industry as I did when I was in it!

The reason is that newspaper consultant/critic Jeff Jarvis recently asked ‘Are magazines doomed?‘ in an article inspired by the closure of Portfolio magazine just as publisher Conde Nast launched a UK version of Wired.

The comments on his article had an interesting split between those for and against print as a medium generally, as well as a few questions around the revenue streams employed in magazine publishing.

My hypothesis is that print magazines will prove more resilient than their newspaper counterparts, but eventually they’ll share the same fate due to a twin pincer movement.

Their resilience is in part due to the difference in content, and the difference in format. The majority of magazines are providing something in addition/as an alternative to the breaking news that the internet disrupts so effectively. Their strength is not only in providing analysis, insight and features, but also in conveying this information with fantastic photography and design. And by doing so, they can provide a far more engaged audience interested in a specific topic.

Here come the pincers…

The first claw closing on the magazine industry is that the online world is evolving far more rapidly, both in terms of community, as Jeff points to, but also in terms of more content-driven websites and blogs. As the market for blogs fighting to break news in niche topics has become increasingly saturated, and coincidentally many more journalists and freelancers are looking outside of print following recession-instigated redundancies, so the levels of insight and expertise available online will increase.

It’s easy to forget in the tech/online bubble that the ‘mainstream’ mass readerships are still located mainly in print, even as they start to move away in many cases. And as much as the online world can criticise traditional display advertising for irrelevancy, digital monetisation still needs to evolve in effectiveness around content.

But the people best placed to effectively make a decent wage online are those experienced journalists and writers who are able to produce specialist books and in-depth articles – those who are also most valuable to print editorial teams. As they increasingly look at digital opportunities, that’s where the biggest content threat will come.

The other pincer?

The other defence of magazines is due to the format – the incredible photography and design which can inspire as it’s displayed on your coffee table.

The problem is that the quality of a format is not a guarantee of it’s survival. While those magazines favoured for their design qualities will doubtless be the most resilient for the future, the fact is that the utlity of digital formats for accessing and sharing information will overcome the quality of the pile of magazines left gathering dust in a box under the bed.

And that’s assuming that technology stays roughly equivalent to what is available right now.

Even as I was about to write this post, a post by Om Malik appeared in my RSS feed – Vogue on Your eReader? New E-paper Tech Will Make It Happen. It happens that a group of researchers at the University of Cincinnatti in Ohio have created a new technology which allows them to recreate the colour and brightness of print. The link has a full explanation, but not only is it much closer to the beauty of print, it also is far more energy efficient than the current Kindle-type displays.

So what’s the answer then?

There are two very likely scenarios for print magazines in the next decade or less. One is that very small run, niche print magazines might survive with subscriptions, display advertising and additional revenue streams due to cult levels of devotion.

The second is that magazines will increasingly follow the ‘digital only’ route which newspapers are being forced into, and we’ll see some find ways to monetise more effectively than display advertising. The others will become marginalised or disappear due to the increased expertise of the new competitors they’ll suddenly discover that have been on the web for years already…

Over 1000 interesting predictions for 2009

As the year draws to a close, the thoughts of almost every blogger turn to making their predictions for 2009, and whether they were proved right in 2008.

But, rather than indulging myself in making some educated guesses, here’s one really good list of predictions on social media and content marketing at Junta 42, including some best guesses from yours truly.

Here’s mine, in case you get distracted by the likes of Paul Bradshaw, David Meerman Scott, Giles Rhys ScottScott Monty, Neil Perkin, and many more people I’ll be following in the future – in fact the only downside is even more worth paying attention to in my RSS feeds!

Prediction: Social Media Marketing will become a more mainstream approach, with a better understanding of how ROI is driven both directly and indirectly – this means an influx of brilliant examples, but also of the worst examples of jumping on something without investing the time and resources to understand it properly first.

Technology wise, Twitter will be officially mainstream, and will have monetized in some way, so I’d expect a rush of companies using whatever appears as a short term, low effort way to get into the buzz around micro blogging.

I’d also say video will continue to become more and more utilized – both as a publicity tool, but also as an interaction tool using sites like Seesmic, 12 secondsmobatalk as ways to actually engage with people and provide a way for conversations to form via video.

If you’d rather see facts and figures without risking RSS overload, then there’s some interesting research from Pew on The Future of the Internet, with around 1196 participants – there’s some good analysis all over the web, but the aforementioned Neil Perkin spotted something I hadn’t seen elsewhere.

Oh, and another good round-up of predictions kicked off by Peter Kim which encompasses another 14 top minds sharing their thoughts.

There are lots of really insightful and educated analysis around 2009, with regards to technology, marketing and the economy – but having seen so many different sides to every argument, it seems like the best option is to go with your gut instinct for what you believe to be fundamentally true – and then be ready to adapt it as things unfold.  In my case, that means constantly watching how to best allow the power of networks and human communication to be empowered and measured, whether that’s through digital or real world approaches.