5 Top Trends in Marketing

Trends in MarketingAs executive recruiters, we are privileged to work with a wide range of CEOs and CMOs on recruiting their marketing team. Recently, consumer-facing companies were scrambling to recruit people who could help them adapt to the rapidly changing availability of new marketing technologies. These technologies allow CMOs to connect 1:1 with customers and to quantify that contact in ways no-one thought possible even a few years ago. As a result, consumer-facing companies are investing new leadership who can drive 1:1 connections through the Internet, emails, social media, smartphones, beacons and digital signage. Based on this experience, here are five trends in marketing we must be ready for:

  1. Integrating customer engagement has become a top priority. Companies want to polish the customer journey from first inspiration into a retail location, through to a purchase and including aftermarket service. This customer experience should be intuitive and friction-free. This means maximizing the speed of the website, minimizing the amount of data a customer needs to provide and offering multiple ways to get service. It is critical that the in-store experience coordinate with the digital experience. It is critical that customer service coordinate with sales. CMOs are concentrating on the entire journey as a marketing opportunity.
  2. CMOs want 1:1 targeting with predictive capabilities.  The advent of smartphones has allowed companies like Pizza Hut, Amazon, Gilt and Starbucks to develop engaging apps that customers love and which account for a large percentage of revenues. Some companies like American Express and Starwood Hotels have over 100 customer profiles they can message with unique emails at the push of a button. However, targeting demographics is not enough. CMOs want to be able to predict when these demographics are likely to buy. College graduates moving to their first job are likely cable or satellite TV buyers – can you partner with the moving companies to target them?
  3. Loyalty programs and relationship building proliferate. Companies beyond the obvious travel businesses are building loyalty programs to develop a long-term relationship with customers.  The trick is not to simply replicate airline or hotel models providing frequency points and discounts to the most loyal customers. Companies must come up with unique offerings that are specific to their market. Pizza Hut allows customers to order online and track precisely how long until delivery. SONIC Drive-in has secret menu Items. Guitar Center gives factory tours. AT&T/DirecTV gives cash for referrals. This requires a strong CRM system and customer insights program to drive profitable offers.
  4. Location targeting is huge. Location-based technologies are developing rapidly and companies are increasingly able to identify when a customer is in or near a retail location. Beacons, blue tooth, cellular and other technologies allow companies to drive location information and communicate with customers at precise locations at precise moments that was not possible three to four years ago. There are digital signs that can accurately identify the age and gender of the viewer and tailor the message. Starbucks knows you are in the store and can ask you if you want your regular order.
  5. Creative content matters. How do you get noticed in a complex and saturated media market where consumers have six-second (or less!) attention spans? Who among us will sit still for an ad if it is not immediately engaging? Creative content is the key to attracting consumers through digital channels in the form of news, special offers, amusing videos, blogs, white papers, games, surveys, events or product information. Team One (Saatchi & Saatchi) produced over 1,000 unique ads for the Lexus Facebook campaign to be able to target specific customer profiles. Creative content matters.

Companies Must Adapt to These Trends

Hire The Best People. To be competitive and adjust to rapidly changing environment, we think it comes down to people and capital. A successful growth business must allocate its capital carefully and needs to hire the best people.

Pursue Diverse Skills. To meet current market needs, you must attract the top talent to technology management, strategic marketing, business development, partnerships and sales. You must canvas the market broadly to find the right people with deep, relevant experience who have operated at your scale and are a good cultural fit. You must attract people who can articulate a vision for partners, advertisers and customers and manage the technology investments to get there.

Seek Proven Ability. Hire leaders with proven ability adjust to trends in the marketplace and develop relevant strategies. They must be able to partner with industry players in new and interesting ways.  They will have many stories about developing stimulating offers.

Managing Technology Projects. We look for experienced executives with technical training who have moved to the business side for at least five to seven years. They must have experience in managing similar scale projects in advertising, retail or consumer-facing businesses. These people come out of national scale, technology dependent companies like Staples, Dell or American Express.  

Partnerships/Business Development. We like to see companies hire Bus Dev leaders who have worked at innovative and transformational organizations like Adobe, Nike or Amazon with training and disciplined processes and then moved into an entrepreneurial environment at earlier stage “scrappy” companies that had to fight for attention. The combination of large company discipline with small company guerilla marketing is a proven winner.

Strategic Marketing.  You have to bring the ideas to customers. That means finding creative marketing leaders who have a proven record of coming up with new ideas. These people may have worked at innovative companies like Google, Disney or Nike or they have worked with early stage companies that were 100 percent idea driven.

Originally published by President & CEO Magazine

Ted Pryor

Ted Pryor

Ted Pryor is a Managing Director with Greenwich Harbor Partners. He focuses on senior-level executive recruiting in Media, Technology, and Digital Marketing including general management, sales, marketing, digital strategy and customer experience. He has over 10 years of experience as a senior executive at GE Capital and over 20 years in corporate finance. He has also been CFO and CEO of a venture-backed start-up company.

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