Saturday, January 10, 2009

Important marketing memes of 2009

And we're back!

Memes are important thought trends in contemporary culture. They are widely distributed, fresh, and organically generated concepts and ideas that emanate and circulate rapidly in a network of plugged-in people.
At their worst, memes can propagate racism. At their best, memes can propagate lolcatz like Ceiling Cat!

So I should probably cover up.

Anyway, to start off the new year, it's relevant to think about memes that might matter in marketing in 2009. Let's talk about the concepts, trends, and practices of marketers that will become more commonplace and popular. Let's talk about the ideas that will quickly disseminate through agencies and client teams, mastered by the savvy group of consumers, and eventually expectorated back to the teeming masses of mainstream culture.

In other words, let's talk about what are relevant marketing trends for 2009:


In the context of the rising tide of greater relevance in advertising, some lucky consumers will find themselves the subject of rare interactions with marketers that go deeper than the banal and shallow ad pitch. Without buying, a privileged few prospects will be invited to try a product, brand, or service. But what they're really trying is an experience.

Remember when you were invited to try Gmail when it was still in beta mode? (Remember how awesome that felt!?)

Testing experience with consumers firsthand is like playing in a sandbox. It's safe, controlled, and a great petri dish to catalyze learnings for experiential improvements. Furthermore, you want to actively segment an select prospects to participate in the experience who you know will then actively go out and spread word of mouth among their networks.

Seeding networks is nothing new, but in 2009 expect to see more seeding based on complete brand experiences rather than simple trial testing or free offers. It's the culmination of consumers' undeniable influence on social diffusion of brands and the demand by consumers for things which they can live, rather than things which they can simply wear, listen to, or eat.


You know how individual consumers are encouraged to put their stamp of approval on something? They're able to personalize their brands either through participating in the product development and customization process, influence brand direction by vocalizing their needs in web forums and social media, and make the brand their own through non-traditional uses.

Now take the personalization to a broader scale. You and your network personalize your product. You and your friends personalize your brand experience.

Gen Ys are social creatures. We thrive on instant communications within our highly networked worlds (that's why we go mental when the DSL isn't working...). Digitally socializing is an intensive part of our lives and the impact of one's network on the things we associate with is immense.

So why would a marketer allow your network to collaborate with you when developing your personal brand relationship with them? Because it's a direct acknowledgment by the marketer of the things that matter to the consumer: their friends. It's an invitation by the marketer for you to show your network that they are influencers.

Look for this style of meme to pop up with everything from iPod playlists to fashion to media content.


This one is big. Integrated marketing communications refers to the choreography among different ad channels, all targeting the prospects with related messages, calls-to-action, and incentives. It's not merely enough anymore to pair a TV spot with a website. It's insufficient to have a radio play in the same market as targeted magazine drops.

Integrated marketing is a mix of advertising channels that are optimal to distribute the message YET still convey relevance to the end consumer. This is critical. Furthermore, this does not underscore an increase in the overall number of message impressions received by the prospect consumer. Instead, it speaks to two things: 1) a curriculum style that gradually educated prospect consumers about a product/service/brand that they would respond to; 2) a coordinated effort by a marketer to demonstrate relevance to consumers across multiple platforms.

What is still unexplained is whether marketers will contract out their entire marcom budget to a single agency that is capable of doing all things (integrated), or whether marketers will act as directors and fragment their marcom budget out to a variety of specialized agencies.

It's hard for me to call this one a meme because I believe this is a sea change in marketing towards relevance-based integrated campaign development. Perhaps it's meme-like insofar that there will be rapid awareness in 2009 and some traditional marketers will make nascet inroads to developing a more balanced communications strategy.

BTW, when I was thinking about an element to include for the word 'choreography', the Indian version of 'Thriller immediately came to mind...!

1 comment:

Nicholas Fodor said...

These three factors are each in their own regard going to change the marketing scene. How much so I'm still not so sure. As long as ad budgets are still so large, the concept of throwing lots of money into a big hole still makes sense. It's never about efficiency or targeted marketing; it's about just getting the word out there as loud as they can, and sure enough like hungry puppies consumers whip out their dollars to spend on huge margin products, diving further and further into debt.

If there's any positive note of the U.S. recession, I imagine we'll see a submergence of what I'd call micro-marketing. When times are tough, the first thing typically to get cut is the marketing budget, what old people in corner offices deem less useful than maximizing production chains and the like (because that's their own department). But office politics are beside the point.

Micro-marketing will take advantage of all the networks, groups, affiliations and database collection that marketers have been collecting forever. Kind of how we can choose to be provided with news feeds based on our preferences, or matched to our "kindred spirit" on matchmaking sites, marketers will have profiles and be able to match marketing campaigns to us (also not unlike google word ads). The agencies that can catch on to this early enough will be able to provide economical, yet highly effective marketing to each end-user, rather than flailing shit at a wall and hoping some of it sticks.

Maybe then I won't see any more tampon ads on my tv.