‘Tis the season of retrospection: Top Ten, Best Of and Most Popular lists circulate our inboxes. But now that the first decade of the 21st century is under our belts, The Miller Group has turned its sights in another direction – the future. How will the adsphere fare in 2011? We couldn’t swing an appointment with the Oracle at Delphi, but we secured the next best thing: the expectations and predictions of some top marketing executives across five industries. Please, read on for a sneak peak at what they think the coming year holds.
We caught up with Dennis to get his take on social media as a B2B tool. What does he think?
At foursquare, we’re very focused on the B2C experience – we want to make products that make cities easier to use and the world more interesting to explore. And a big part of this mission is building things that help end users connect and share their experiences with local merchants with their friends. Every checkin on foursquare – especially those that are shared through Twitter and Facebook – serves as almost a “mini-endorsement” of that local merchant. And we’re already seeing that repetitive checkins to the coffee shop in my neighborhood can pique the interest of my friends to try a place that I frequent often. A big part of foursquare’s mission is to help local businesses connect with both their best and most loyal customers and to help them reach out to potential new customers who are often learning about the venue through a friend’s checkin.
In thinking about B2B, foursquare currently builds tools for local merchants to help claim their businesses, measure and the number of checkins at these claimed venues (thru our “merchant dashboard”) and then to create special offers that reward new customers or frequent visitors. We call this our “Specials” platform and is our current implementation of B2B (foursquare helping other businesses, though we often refer to the businesses using our platform as “users”).
Up to now, we’ve been the only folks with access to this data and the ability to build these tools. Early next year, we’ll be rolling out a “Specials API” which will allow third parties – agencies, business, etc – to use our API to build new tools for local merchants. This will be another form of B2B for us as startups and agencies start using our API to build tools that they can pitch to local merchants.
At The Miller Group, we see a huge growth opportunity for companies like foursquare to develop the tools that B2B marketers have been eagerly awaiting since the advent of social media.
Chief Marketing Officer
This will be an interesting year. As disposable income and consumer confidence improve, marketers in the restaurant industry are going to be aggressively jockeying to recover their fair share and more and recover from what have been two of the most difficult years in recent history. You’ll see less reliance on discounting and a greater reliance on value-add and upselling through premium food offerings.
And as for mobile marketing, the hottest buzzword among marketers nationwide?
In my opinion, it is just starting. Geographically driven apps are interesting, but given that many of the apps relay on discounting, there is a concern by operators not to fall back into discount wars, not to be seen as deal-driven rather than brand-driven. Overuse of discounting erodes a brand’s value-for-money proposition and no operator wants to be deal-driven. There is a portion of people who respond to mobile, but it won’t drive the restaurant business in 2011. The first order of business for brands heading into the new year is to get up, dust ourselves off, leave the discounting behind and set to work on reinforcing brand equity and everyday great value.
(We hear you, Jeff!)
Director of Marketing & Communications
The Salvation Army Southern California Division
As the economy rebounds, my advice to marketing professionals this year is to work smarter, not harder. Think about what makes your organization unique. Take a good look at your strengths. And then run with them. All too often, we try to keep too many spinning plates in the air and we all know what tends to happen; things come crashing down. Have clearly defined, achievable goals and then make them happen while keeping your organization’s brand image and assets top of mind.
As organizations move beyond economic downturn and once again strive to be Brand of the Year, is 2011 shaping up to be The Year of the Brand?
Health Care Marketing Consultant
We are at a crossroads in the industry: how can we be more effective in how we’re selling, in addition to how we’re communicating with our customers? And how can technology transform what we’re doing today?
Take the project that I’m working on in China: an iPad app for remote training of physicians on a company product. In a sense it would be taking the place of the rep who would be standing by and educating the doctor. On the back end, the iPad would be connected to a road rep or call center. In other words: marketers are starting to think more creatively about how to address challenges in markets we weren’t able to participate in before.
But it’s not all bells and whistles; health care marketers need to pay close attention to – you guessed it – branding basics.
One company rep recently said to me, “Doesn’t the product sell itself?” No! You have to build a brand. Sometimes we lose sight of that in the medical device arena. We don’t feel that it’s important because we have such a target market, but we cannot forget: you must build a brand, generate ROI and invest in the programs.
Wolf Range Company
Actually, I think the coming year is a big question mark. I don’t see the economy going backwards, but I really am not quite sure how far forward it’s going.
People with money are spending and I think the problem is that the gap between the upper class and the middle class is getting greater. If you look at Tiffany, Neiman Marcus and BMW, their sales are pretty good. The question is, what’s ahead for the middle class in the coming year? A lot of people who are working are concerned that they’ll still have a job.
As a marketing man, I think that it behooves us to convey to the prospective customer the value of whatever the product is that we are selling. Given this economy, my feeling is that we shouldn’t be pulling back as marketing people. We should not be cutting budgets – if anything, maybe even increasing them.
Do these forecasts match your own? Please comment below to share your thoughts and expectations for the coming year.