Having recently addressed some of the nearly 800 attendees of the Online Marketing Summit  in San Diego, California, I and my esteemed colleagues – Jack in the Box’s Marilee Brusaschetti , Experian’s Kevin Akerman , Lyris’ Erick Mott , and HiveFire’s Pawan Deshpande  – sat on a panel sharing thoughts, best practices, and viewpoints of 2010’s Integrated Marketing Trends. In doing so, I – being a huge film buff – harkened back to a Hollywood classic for inspiration and perspective…
He was as old as his tongue, a little bit older than his teeth and wise beyond his years: jolly old St. Nick, the benevolent character playing opposite a young Natalie Wood in “Miracle on 34th Street ” knew that if a customer of Macy’s wanted a product the store didn’t carry, then it was smart business to offer that customer an alternative solution to her problem – even if it meant redirecting a shopper to the competitor Gimbels. Such a simple concept of true client-centric service and content marketing rang true then and chimes even more clearly now, given today’s social media multi-channel communication opportunities. And while short-sightedness might scoff at the notion of losing a sale, the benefits gained by such business practices – true thought leadership, knowledge sharing, and most important, brand loyalty – ultimately contribute more to a company’s bottom line and future potential.
That’s why “Client-focus” and “Content Marketing” top my list for Best Business Practices and 2010’s Marketing Trends. And the reason they’re more important than ever before is because consumers have never before enjoyed such a wealth of information and peer-level advisors (with the simple click of a mouse) to help them find exactly what they believe serves their needs best. And if a company doesn’t have just the right something, that’s okay…as long as it still is able to serve its customers by helping them solve their problems with their own knowledge and sharing of related solutions. Sure, immediate returns and revenues may not be at hand, but the relationships built by always putting clients’ needs at the forefront prove fruitful in the long run. We saw it in the film classic when the redirected shopper made a point to tell Macy’s management that she didn’t know what kind of campaign this was, but as a result, Macy’s had her loyalty, and she was going to spread the word. Today, that kind of content/solution-providing and subsequent endorsement – spreading happens virally at lightning speeds and without geographic or physical boundaries to contain it. Thank goodness for the Internet and all the wonderful new opportunities to connect that it brings.
But let’s not forget other mediums, not just digital but traditional. Why? Because keeping in theme with “content marketing” and being “client-focused,” not all clients are alike. Not all want the same content. Not all want to receive their information in the same manner. Enter the next Best Business Practices and 2010 Marketing Trends on my list: the grouping I like to call the big “-ilities.” Mobility. Portability. Flexibility. Accessibility. Almost no one any longer sits “9 to 5″ in front of a desk all day. Nor are most folks willing to “do as they’re told” by only being able to access something in one way or at a static place and time. “Entrepreneurship” and “Learning More” are at the core of today’s consumer spirit. And in 2010, empowering consumers to tap into information that is uniquely of interest to them, in whatever format (video, audio, straight text, RSS, etc.) appeals to them, and carried via whatever medium or device (niche publication, email newsletter subscription, iPhone or Droid, etc.) accommodates their individual lifestyle is key.
Now you may have noticed that the items making it to my list never do so solo. “Content Marketing” and “Client-focus” go hand-in-hand, as do the big “-ilities” of “Mobility,” “Portability,” “Flexibility,” and “Accessibility.” And they all work together. Long gone are the days of silo’d and “one-size-fits-all” strategies and tactics. A company that does not embrace true integration – internally within individual teams and cross-departmentally as well as externally in its approaches to all of its various target audiences – quite simply will not survive let alone thrive. Integration, Collaboration, and Multiple Connections: these are the underlying foundations that must be at a company’s core and that are certain to serve us and our clients best in the coming years.