Having survived the Mayans prediction and possibly the end of Marketing as we know it, I now am quite excited as I have always considered the number 13 to be lucky. But like most other things, luck is generally helped considerably by our positive actions and we need to just ‘do it” as suggested by Nike. So, while economists will contemplate economic and social conditions in 2013, it is what we as comprehensive ‘through the line’ marketers put into practice that will make the difference this year.

Many economists are predicting that SA will have slow growth; companies will not easily invest in new ventures; consumers will be cautious to spend – and they will be conscious of value for money. This means large brands will remain stable, while undefined and smaller brands will suffer. Despite this, when you travel into Africa, (try Tete in Mozambique) you will find little evidence of the global stagnation and uncertainty. Companies that notice this will increase their presence into Africa and benefit greatly going forward. Understanding Africa – and emerging markets in general – is a competitive advantage for SA marketers – but only if we use it.

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Global giants, such as the (FMCG) companies dominate for a reason –  Emerging market companies have demonstrated this over the last 10 years – Samsung, Qatar Airways, MTN, Hyundai, Kia – all of these invested in their markets –  A “first-mover” advantage remains one of the most powerful strategic advantages in business. MTN is the strongest mobile network in Africa despite major challenges from developed nation brands such as Vodafone and Orange.

‘Keeping’ and ‘getting’ customers

  • Marketing is about ‘keeping’ customers and ‘getting’ customers – it is as simple as that. Know and understand what you need to do to keep your customers, grow their current franchise (the easiest thing to do) and acquire the customers you want. Understand why they defect if they do – and stop it – fast. Understand how they perceive the value your brand delivers to them. During turmoil, you need to consolidate and protect before you do anything else. To do that, understand your customers and become even more passionate about them. Make sure they love you even more!
  • Understand and use your own customer data. Few companies really use their own data well – there is a growing global awareness of the power of analytics which shows you quite clearly where your opportunities lie.
  • Seek to understand what marketing actually ‘works’. Many activities do not have a clear, measurable objective that relates back to customer retention and growth directly (or, as important, brand-value growth). Start with a blank piece of paper and compile a task-driven budget that is measurable and insure your message translates through to all the different channels or mediums that you will be using.
  • Society will become more divided. As the recession continues to bite and our government struggles to deal with poverty, unemployment and income disparity, politics will become more polarised. This will make marketing national identity increasingly risky, but ultimately more rewarding. Those brands that understand culture will be able to create stronger local identities, and people will gravitate to brands that give them a sense of identity during these uncertain times.
  • DIFFERENTIATE. If a market does not grow, you need to keep your current customers and acquire new ones – “Know what makes your brand unique, if nothing does, find it – or create it”.
  • Learn how to really engage with customers in ways relevant to them through online channels and social media, and integrate strategically into how your company works. Companies now mostly use social media as an extension of other media – as something they can “manage” as a company.This is wrong; social media is about true engagement, in areas that matter to people, in ways that contribute to their lives: it requires true reciprocity. It is not about turning websites into Facebook pages or posting ads onto YouTube. True engagement requires an entire change in how the brand interfaces with its customers, minute-by-minute. It has ideological, strategic, people and systems implications for companies.

 

  • Digital and social networks continue to converge with traditional channels, consumer identity will become increasingly fraught. Old-school methods of categorising people into markets will become more flawed as ‘netizens’ and mobile users organise themselves into tribes, communities and clusters online. This will require more fluid and flexible strategies for understanding people and demographics.

 

  • As clutter and information increases, people will gravitate to well-crafted content, For marketers, this will translate into the need to invest in good content generation in the form of clever PR, smart web and blog management, and the creation of content for channels such as YouTube, SoundCloud, Facebook, Twitter and other social cities.

 

  • In the old days, marketers didn’t have to know about technology but, as branding, social networks, apps and technology collide. Those brand-builders who get and use technology will have a distinct advantage over the rest. so get and keep those wiz kid programmers that can help you create and use new technology.

 

  • The rise and rise of social networks and direct marketing (through mobile, internet, tablets et al) means that marketing has become embedded in sales channels. This means that sales functions which rely on social and mobile networks will become linked to the marketing function and vice versa.

 

  • From social apps to pictograms, the world remains reliant on design and, in time-pressured environments, people will appreciate good design and visual experiences that enhance their day to day experience of life. Design will continue to grow in importance in the value of branding, and in the everyday expression of people’s lives.

 

  • Television will remain a medium for mass influence, but discerning markets and net-heads will look elsewhere for visual entertainment. Here the discernment will be everything and quality will be what distinguishes this market. This will realise a rise in the consumption of online visual channels, as well as the rise of niche cinema offerings and home theatre.

 

  • Social and mobile networks have made the opaque visible. Consumers can now peer right through distribution channels, and there is full exposure on a brand’s value chain. The rise of ethical consumerism will make trust the most valuable brand currency.

 

  • The visualisation of social networks will see copy become more considered and a stronger emphasis will be brought to the visual. Complexities will be rendered simple through visualisations, and infographics will be used to make intricate purchase decision- making (such as mobile packages or medical aid offerings) become quick and easier to access or understand.

 

  • 2013 will be the year of the crowd, and Facebook, Twitter and other social engines will be used for ‘crowdsourcing’ to give those people with purchasing power a bigger say into how brands are produced, changed, merchandised or marketed, and to offer greater product choices and variance.

 

This post was written by Jamie MacLeod

Jamie has gained extensive experience in many corporate sectors and SME’s including Advertising, FMCG, Retail, Banking, Finance & Insurance, Manufacturing, Publishing and Automotive to name a few and loves the challenge of adding value to company strategy and insuring that ‘digital marketing’ solutions offer new, cost effective channels that are  ‘measurable’ , interactive and cutting edge.

Should you require creativity, innovation and ‘out of the box’ thinking when it comes to achieving your marketing objectives we would like to assist in planning cross media campaigns for you that work.