JWt’s trend report for 2015

This is always my favorite (and I believe most insightful) trend report that comes out around this time every year.

In JWT’s ninth annual forecast of trends for the near future, they explore how consumers are both welcoming and resisting technology’s growing omnipresence in our lives. For many, technology serves as a gateway to opportunity and an enabler of hyper-efficient lifestyles, but those who are most immersed are starting to question its effect on their lives and their privacy. One result is that more people are trying to find a balance and lead more mindful, in-the-moment lives.

Here’s their 2 minute snapshot of the findings.

 

If we want to drill down a little deeper — According to the JWT site, the 10 trends they identify and explore are:

1. IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES: Entertainment, narratives and brand experiences will become more immersive and altogether more enveloping in a bid to capture consumers’ imagination and attention.

2. DO YOU SPEAK VISUAL?: We’re shifting to a visual vocabulary that relies on photos, emojis, video snippets and other imagery, largely supplanting the need for text. “Visual” is a new lingo that needs to be mastered.

3. THE AGE OF IMPATIENCE: With the mainstreaming of the on-demand economy and our always-on culture, consumer expectations for speed and ease are rising exponentially. As businesses respond in kind, making the availability of their products and services more instant, impatience and impulsiveness will only continue to increase.

4. MOBILE AS A GATEWAY TO OPPORTUNITY: In emerging markets, the mobile device is coming to represent a gateway to opportunity—helping people change their lives by giving them access to financial systems, new business tools, better health care, education and more.

5. TELEPATHIC TECHNOLOGY: Thanks to the rise of brain-computer interfaces and emotion recognition technology, brands are getting more adept at understanding consumers’ minds and moods, and reacting accordingly in a very personalized way.

6. THE END OF ANONYMITY: Thanks to an array of new technologies and a growing drive to collect personal data, it’s becoming nearly impossible to remain unobserved and untracked by corporations and governments. As anonymity becomes more elusive, expect pushback from consumers and a growing paranoia around technologies and services that affect privacy.

7. RAGING AGAINST THE MACHINE: As we move further into the digital age, we’re starting to both fear and resent technology, fretting about what’s been lost in our embrace of unprecedented change. We’ll put a higher value on all things that feel essentially human and seriously question (while not entirely resisting) technology’s siren call.

8. REMIXING TRADITION: With social norms quickly changing and a new anything-goes attitude, people are mashing up cherished traditions with decidedly new ideas, creating their own recipes for what feels right.

9. PROUDLY IMPERFECT: Imperfection and even outright ugliness—the quirky, the messy and the clearly flawed—are taking on new appeal in a world that’s become all too polished or mass-produced. The imperfect is coming to feel more authentic, and also more comforting and meaningful.

10. MINDFUL LIVING: Consumers are developing a quasi-Zen desire to experience everything in a more present, conscious way. Once the domain of the spiritual set, mindful living is filtering into the mainstream, with more people drawn to the idea of shutting out distractions and focusing on the moment. 

The report is over 100 pages of examples, marketing insights and suggestions on how we will see these trends come to life over the next year.  Whether you’re in marketing or just love to study cultures and people — you’ll find it a fascinating read.

This report is the result of quantitative, qualitative and desk research conducted by JWTIntelligence throughout the year. The report includes input from nearly 70 JWT planners and researchers across more than two dozen markets, and interviews with experts and influencers across sectors including technology, health and wellness, media and academia.

You can purchase the report here.

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah’s SEO-Friendly ‘Bluebird’ and the Betterment of a Google Ranking

btssongsouthdisneybacklot_largeAs you all know — I love all things Disney, so how could I pass on a guest post that used a Disney classic to talk about SEO!  Enjoy this post from Lucas Miller.

American actor James Baskett was most famous for his portrayal of Uncle Remus, an extremely deep voice, singing the song “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” and inventing the word “satisfactual.”

However, what many fail to recognize is the prophetic, Nostradamus-like, subliminal message that Baskett originally fed American marketers at the time of his pioneering music video’s release in 1946 — exactly 60 years before Twitter and her globally-recognized bluebird ever became an actual tool for internet fanatics.

As an SEO professional, if you’re not harnessing the power of the internet’s favorite “bluebird” — Twitter — you’re doing yourself and your client a disservice.

Says Todd Noall, President and Chief Strategy Officer of Fusion 360, an advertising agency in Utah, “How a brand performs in the digital world is based largely upon it’s ability to be found by potential customers.”

While that might seem like a bit of a “No sh*t, Sherlock” statement, continues Todd with the more difficult portion of the task, “… producing relevant content that customers not only want to interact with, but share with their friends.”

Enter Twitter, stage left. One of the most basic rules of the SEO industry is that quality content will, in time, lead to conversation flow.

According to SearchEngineLand.com, “Posting quality content will also encourage people to follow you. Building high numbers of followers will enhance your authority in Google’s eyes, meaning, any links you post will carry more weight.”

Though popular quick fixes like Twitter competitions and mass follow and unfollow sessions might prove beneficial as a temporary remedy, Twitter as an SEO tool becomes helpful when worthwhile blog posts, widgets, discount vouchers and articles are being shared on a larger scale.

The simpleton of SEO thinks he or she knows the entirety of the industry by one term: “keyword.” It should come as a surprise to no one that using appropriate keywords on a Twitter profile can help with Google ranking, but it’s an error made all too often.

By simply adding important keywords to Twitter bios and tweets, Google — however you view this all-encompassing, amorphous entity — will peg your tweets as relevant to your brand’s cause, thus improving page rank.

Lastly, and here’s the fun part: produce tweets in a way that people will want to retweet them. Depending on the client that you represent, this may mean looking beyond the low-lying fruit of YouTube videos containing hysterical groin kicks. There’s definitely more out there and digging into the deepest of the mind’s creative catacombs will, more than likely, be necessary.

Keep in mind that each tweet only allows for 140 characters. When calling upon the powers of wit, humor, sex, human emotion or anything else that us homo sapiens find attractive, remember that you’ll need to leave enough space for people to retweet your videos, links and comments, all while allowing enough room for them to add a thought or two.

Armed with the help of a certain “Mister bluebird” whispering into your ever-attentive ear the secrets of Twitter mastery, your clients, coworkers and boss will soon be joyfully singing, “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-A! My oh my, what a wonderful day!”

They’ll look a little ridiculous, ya know, cause they’re full-grown adults, but what can you expect with a booming Twitter page and Google rank? Answer: nothing less.

Lucas Miller is a young, up-and-coming Wizard of Public Relations. When not writing, running or studying, he’s working tirelessly to perfect what he claims is the “World’s Greatest Pompadour.”

This marketing summit promises to be extreme!

Screenshot 2014-10-25 21.52.20Are you looking for an edge?  Want to super charge your 4th quarter as you power into 2015?

Maybe this free online event is your ticket.

At the Extreme Small Business Marketing Summit, 6 small business experts will reveal their secrets to get more leads, convert more sales, win more clients, and make more money without driving themselves crazy or spending their last dime.

Now, you can do it too!

In just 6 hours, you’ll revolutionize how you grow your business. Get the business-building tools and strategies you need to boost your results when you register now at no cost for this exciting virtual event.

The Extreme Small Business Marketing Summit starts Monday, November 3rd.  Here’s the speaking line up:

Even if only one or two of the topics appeal to you — the price is definitely right.  Check it out and let me know what you learned!

Plant some marketing seeds

plant some marketing seedsBy the time a farmer is harvesting his crop, he’s already well into the planning of his upcoming planting season. We marketing types could learn a lot from those farmers.

The fourth quarter is a very busy time for most businesses for several reasons:

  • Lots of clients are spending the remainder of their budgets
  • Customers are motivated to wrap things up before the year’s end
  • Many companies are working short staffed and lose a lot of productivity around Thanksgiving and throughout December because of holidays and vacations
  • Internal planning for 2015 budgets and work plans is typically done during this time

That’s why it’s not all that surprising that you aren’t thinking about the sales/activity dry spell that often comes in January and February. You may be the exception to this rule, but for many organizations, the first few months of the year are often the slowest in terms of leads, sales and revenue.  That’s why you need to plant some marketing seeds right now.

It’s usually around the end of January that someone inside the company says, “Wow, our sales are really slow. We’d better do something.” They go into a brainstorming session and come up with some sort of promotion, marketing tactics or special to generate some sales activity.

Odds are, the ideas that get generated at the end of January usually start producing results 30-90 days after they’re deployed.

So if that’s the case…wouldn’t it make a lot of sense to begin those promos, specials, and increased efforts now, sixty days before your inevitable dry spell?

Let’s call it your planting seeds effort. You want to generate interest now but deliver the services/goods in January and February. How might you plant some marketing seeds now?

Offer a 2014 budget/2015 delivery deal: You know that many of your clients have a fiscal year that ends in December. They have “use it or lose it” budgets. So why not help them wisely spend those budget dollars? Create an opportunity for them to make a smart purchase in 2014 for things they’ll need in the first few months of 2015.

Put together a package: Why not bundle some of your products/services in a way that guarantees usage over the first few months of the year? Set the end date to purchase the bundle sometime in the middle of January. Begin talking about the bundles now and you’ll either sell some in December or you’ll plant the seeds now and make the sale in January.

Kick off a PR campaign: Maybe it’s time to create some buzz? That kind of buzz usually takes some time to build up so starting now means you’ll have some momentum in a few months. Be smart – concentrate on a few key publications that will position you in the right way with the right audience.

Reach out to former clients: Now might be the perfect time to re-connect with some of your former customers. Keep in mind that they’re (hopefully) doing their 2015 planning right now which might result in their realizing that they are going to need what you sell.

Develop and distribute helpful content: Depending on your industry and your customers, this might be an e-book, a white paper, a podcast, or even an in person seminar. Use this opportunity to demonstrate just how smart you are and how you can help them by sharing that expertise. Use the content to reach back out to potential customers you’ve already courted, prospects and even current customers.

Mine your referral network: Your best customers are typically more than happy to boast about your work. Now is the perfect time to ask them who else they think might benefit from your expertise/products. Set up those initial meet and greets for the first week of January.

Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of your slow season to worry about shortening it. If you plant some marketing seeds right now, the slow season may be a thing of the past.

Building a website your users will love

website your users will loveIt seems like a “duh,” doesn’t it?  Of course you want to build a website your users will love.

But remember, not that long ago, many businesses were wondering whether or not they even needed a website.

It seemed so far-fetched that any of their customers would ever do anything but show up at their store or pick up the phone to place an order.

How quickly times change. Now, a business isn’t considered legitimate until they have a web presence.  No matter what it is you sell, odds are your prospects are going to visit your website to decide if you’re even in the running.

I’m hard pressed to think of an industry or business category that doesn’t rely on their website as the main workhorse in their marketing arsenal.

It used to be that you had an opportunity to make the sale when someone walked into your retail location, your salesperson called on the buyer or you answered your phone.  But today, a good portion of the sales process has nothing to do with you actively engaging with the potential buyer.  They’re doing a great deal of their due diligence tire kicking without you being in the room at all.

It’s happening on your website, within social networks and with the help of a Google search.

Which makes what you put out on the web absolutely vital to your business’ success. You must build a website your users will love.

All of that being said – most websites stink.  They’re badly designed, built for the business’ ego rather than the customer’s utility and they’re out of date.

Why?  I think most businesses think of their website like an ever expanding junk drawer.  They just keep tossing more stuff in there and hope that when someone rummages through it – they can find what they need.

If you’d like your website to be the effective workhorse you need it to be, consider these best practices:

It should be an experience: Keep in mind that many people will decide whether or not to do business with you based on their web visit.  So you want them to have a memorable and enjoyable experience.   Get them interacting with you – give them a quiz, help them find answers to their specific questions or offer them something they might want to share with others.

In addition:

  • Let your company’s personality be a part of the site — both in design and voice
  • Simple navigation matters – make it intuitive
  • Remember eye flow – give them plenty of white space and eye rest

Don’t talk about yourself: Talk about their world and how you can improve it.  Everything should be presented from their perspective, not yours. You might need an outside perspective to help you identify what truly matters to your audience.

In addition:

  • Don’t over share – think hors’ oeuvres, not a six course meal
  • Start at the 101 level — not every visitor will already be an expert
  • Leave them wanting more so they call or send an email
  • Keep the content fresh – stale content does not sell
  • Cascade your content – start with a little and then let them choose to drill down for more if they want it

Make it easy, no matter the device: Don’t assume everyone is using a 15-inch screen.  Within the next couple years, the majority of web searches will be conducted on a mobile phone. Check your site on desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones because if there’s one thing your users will love is being able to access your content no matter where they are.

In addition:

  • Pay attention to page placement — your most important content should be above the fold
  • Give them more than one way to navigate
  • Use landing pages to help diverse audiences get where they want to go

Don’t let a mediocre website discourage prospects from becoming customers before they even shake your hand. If you haven’t already done it — start tomorrow.  Build a website your users will love and share and best of all — buy from.