Four thoughts as we wind down 2013

shinola

It’s that time of year. You know what I’m talking about: best of lists, top ten countdowns and recaps from the year are making their way across our in-boxes, news feeds, Twitter timelines and RSS readers. I usually would jump into the fray with my favorite albums from the year, but I have to admit that I haven’t been keeping tabs on new music this year as much I would have liked. (If you are looking for some solid musical finds, then I suggest checking out the year-end rankings from Twin Cities mavens Kyle Matteson and Brian Danaher.)

Instead, I’ve opted to share some observations I have on the marketing scene that I think are relevant as we round the corner into 2014.

  • Forget the second screen, mobile is the first screen. Consumers are using smart phones as the device of choice. Whether it’s checking email, connecting with social networks, watching videos or shopping in a new way, we are all doing it from our phones. As marketers we need to move beyond the cliché that “mobile is the second screen” and treat it as the first screen.
  • Social media ≠ free media. I touched on this briefly during my presentation at the SocialMedia.org brand summit. If you want to have a presence in social media then you not only must have the people in place to operate your social accounts but you need to have money available to fund paid media necessary to reach your audience. The big social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. are all focused on monetization and this means it’s a pay-to-play environment. Don’t think that this is just a challenge for big brands. I recently had dinner with a group of friends who run small businesses and to a tee they talked about this issue which is the same one that large companies are facing.
  • The shiny object syndrome is alive and well in digital marketing. While shiny objects in the marketing world have been a sore spot for me at times, I’ve come to embrace the energy and craziness that comes with it. That’s a good thing because there is no shortage of new digital and media trends on the horizon. Programmatic Buying. Big Data. Custom Targeting. The list goes on. Companies that have a healthy roster of marketers with experience as practitioners who understand the technology will be well positioned to cut through the clutter and truly identify opportunities worth pursuing.
  • Some of my favorite marketing comes from brands that are rooted in craftsmanship and design. There is no shortage of great advertising and marketing work out there from big brands, but sometimes I like to get inspired by keeping tabs on smaller companies. Right now three of my favorite brands place a strong priority on craftsmanship and design, and they carry that through to their marketing efforts. Shinola is helping to transform Detroit by manufacturing high-end watches that rival those of Swiss watch companies. Warby Parker is changing the costly game of buying new eyewear while making quality and cool glasses affordable. Lastly, Trunk Club is leading a movement of making it easier to shop for a better looking wardrobe. If any of these three brands are new to you, then I encourage you to give them a chance and review some of their work.

Thanks for reading this year and here’s to a rocking 2014. Cheers!

(Photo courtesy of Mike Petrucci courtesy of Creative Commons license.)

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