Mainstream marketing changed forever at the dawn of the social and creative web. First entering the scene as a vehicle to create and exchange content and engage in person-to-person conversations, the social web also educated clients on not only social media marketing but eventually blogging, search engine optimization and everything in between.The marketing world as we knew it evolved and client expectations changed for good.
The future of marketing may once again undergo a dramatic shift. The nice, neat division between advertising, marketing and public relations agencies that exists today, for example, may give way to complete integration. So, what can we expect from the future of marketing? Great question! And we’re glad you asked. Here are four predictions.
1. Turning to Clients for Content
The future of marketing is content – there are no ifs, ands or buts about it. The agencies of tomorrow will still strive for smarter, faster and cheaper – as they’ve always done – but the rules will change. No longer will “smarter, faster and cheaper” mean dumping big budgets to select content teams. Instead, it will demand something unique and invaluable – client participation.
The “trusted resource” will rise above the “product pusher” in the future. And who is the trusted resource? It’s the thought leader – online and off – who knows his stuff inside and out, ready to cultivate fresh, relevant content at a moment’s notice. All he needs is a guide – someone who knows the type of content that spreads…a team armed with the knowledge to create, market, measure and monetize great content. Agencies and clients will join forces to conquer the content-centered climate.
2. Agencies Become Educators
In the past, nothing appeased the marketer more than control – control over the customer, the perception of the brand and the conversation. When social media entered the equation, the customer regained control, terminating the agency-as-a-controller model. The agency-as-a-controller model will fail in the future, too, forcing marketers to become educators who enable customers and prospects.
When agencies become educators, a hybrid model of solutions providers will emerge: part agency and part publisher. These half-breeds will continue to create on and offline content but with a different set of goals in mind. A subscriber to an online community, for example, may prove more valuable in the long run than an actual client. Agencies of the future will aim for different targets. The new educator/teacher model will inevitably give rise to new platforms such as membership sites and mentoring programs.
3. Clients Participate on Social Media
Today, agencies offering social media services are a dime a dozen. From community management to networking, modern social media service providers aim to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic and promote online success. But what type of social media services can we expect from the agencies of the future?
Sure, the agencies of tomorrow will play a similar role as the agencies of today: create content, find and share niche articles, build networks, create profiles and accounts, post content status updates and engage in other types of social media behavior. But social media success in the future will depend on something trivial to today’s digital marketing landscape – participation from the client.
Social media marketing is about building relationships and trust. When consumers interact with brands on social media, those customers want to spark discussions with the REAL person behind the brand – not an intern handling the day-to-day social media interaction tasks. The one thing agencies of the future must avoid at all costs: pretending to be you or acting like you online. There’s simply no room in the future for phonies.
4. Respect for the Blogger and New Media
Blogs and new media sources bring to the future of marketing something traditional print, banner and 30-second ads never could: incredible cost-efficient and laser targeted sponsorship and advertising opportunities.
Traditional media is a one-and-done deal. But new media sources – including content sponsorships, guest posts and blogs – stay up for the long run with the ability to not only spread but also increase in value over time. As opposed to pitching a local paper, marketers in the future will instead turn to niche blog networks – popular places to build key relationships. Guest post opportunities will flourish and the podcast will trump TV ads as a powerful marketing platform available at a fraction of the cost. In the future or marketing, respect the blogger and new media – or perish.