With the start of 2012, I thought I’d take a few minutes to start the new year with my 1st official blog post. As a Twitterholic, and with over 53,000 followers, I’ve become accustomed to 140 characters, so it’s now a stretch to write beyond the limit. I have over 3 decades of experience in marketing and sales, a M.S. in Marketing, and a number of years in the social media area with my first exposure in 2006 on LinkedIn, so I’m hoping that my background will prove helpful in writing content that is interesting and informative as we move forward.
In a past life I had written copy for ads and brochures, news releases, newsletters, and too many papers in college and grad school to even think about. I hope you forgive me as I take the training wheels off and go for a spin around the block.
What do I see happening in 2012?
For those who are not familiar with the term, the 4P’s were the creation many years ago of E. Jerome McCarthy. He felt that marketing really should be focused on 4 key concepts: 1)Product; 2)Place; 3)Price; and 4)Promotion. This has been the focus of almost all formal marketing programs with decisions centered on it, and the basis for numerous marketing textbooks. It has been challenged recently by numerous pundits as being irrelevant, but I beg to differ.
For 2012, I feel that the 4P’s will continue to survive, and will further embrace the recent addition of people to the equation. This was so eloquently stated by Brian Solis in a recent blog post, as part of a series introducing his latest book, The End of Business As Usual.
Furthermore, regardless of what direction any of the marketing or social media tools take in 2012, without the right product, easily found, and competitively priced, all marketing efforts will be for naught.
Customer service initiatives will grow in importance. Businesses will further recognize the importance of maintaining solid relationships with profitable and/or strategic customers. With new customer acquisition costs being so high, it just makes sense. With the Social Media hype of the last few years, and the focus on new account generation, this has been an area that has been severely overlooked.
I see many firms adopting the “Twitter Test”, a customer service phrase recently coined by Joey Sargent in her FreshSprouts blog. The test is nothing more than posting a Tweet regarding a complaint, complement, or suggestion to a company’s Twitter account and timing how long it takes for them to respond with an acknowledgement. If it takes days, you know there’s a problem. Can your customer service pass the Twitter test?
There will be further calls by CEO’s and business owners for more accountability and measurement of social media and marketing efforts in 2012. Warm fuzzies will not cut it. As PR maven Katy Delahaye Paine mentioned in Jim Sterne’s book, Social Media Metrics, “you need to not do anything in social media if it doesn’t add value”. Look for more involvement by companies in programs such as Radian6 and other programs which continue to emerge almost on a daily basis.
Email marketing will continue to be a very effective tool for reaching targeted prospects through strategic marketing campaigns like this direct to consumer Chick-fil-A email message at this link. Although a bit dated, but probably still true, as Simms Jenkins pointed out in his book, The Truth About Email Marketing, “Email marketing delivers the highest return on investment (ROI) of any other internet marketing approach available”. Small businesses will further embrace it and recognize the benefits that can be derived from periodic emails to valued customers and prospects.
Google will continue to become more powerful. It will pursue additional acquisitions, further enhance Google+, and sharpen its search capabilities.
There is a chance that Google may buy Foursquare to further enhance its local marketing capabilities and to offset the recent acquisition of Gowalla by Facebook. With a free cash flow recently estimated at $9B +, Google is well positioned to become a leading “shopper” in 2012.
Google+ now appears to be gaining some critical momentum and has moved well beyond the early adopters and marketing pundits who originally touted its benefits. A number of books have just been released on Google + by such social media authors as Chris Brogan and Scott McNulty further validating the acceptance of Google+ in the mainstream. With apparent Google SEO benefits to users of Google+, more will “jump on board”. Additional apps will be added and outside developments will be encouraged.
On a cautionary note, Google may come under scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Justice. Given Google’s huge market share in the search area, and a general feeling that Google is compromising privacy concerns, I can envision possible action in this area.
Facebook will have a good 2012. The new Timeline will be well received as it rolls out to the masses. Those who continue to stay away from self promotion and deliver true value to their audiences and build relationships with their readers will find success in using Facebook. As Facebook expert Mari Smith pointed out in her recent book, The New Relationship Marketing, “you need to become a master at relationship marketing”.
I have some concerns, however, with Facebook’s lack of sufficient customer service and it frequently making changes without consideration for the impact on those who use it on a daily basis. Have you ever tried to contact Facebook? It’s FAQ’s and, if you’re lucky, an email response. At a recent Facebook meeting that I attended, Facebook personnel indicated that they did not see any type of customer service via phone being implemented in the near future. This is truly Facebook’s Achille’s heel.
LinkedIn will grow and will take on added importance even in the local business arena. With the recent addition of company pages, small business owners will realize that LinkedIn can serve as a great tool for connecting with customers and keeping their name in front of them. I look for LinkedIn to further engage with developers and build more robust applications to benefit its 135 million members.
The wind will continue to blow briskly behind Twitter’s sails. The media loves Twitter and the coverage will be continue in 2012. What other vehicle out there can provide the real-time information that Twitter provides. Whether it was the capture of Osama Bin Laden or the use of Twitter in reporting the aftermath of the Tsunami in Japan, and thoroughly discussed in a recent blog posting by Neal Schaffer , Twitter became an integral part in reporting world history in 2011. Look for more of the same in 2012, as we enter a very interesting presidential campaign season, and Twitter becomes even more prominent than it was in the last election.
Viewership will continue to explode for those videos with great or interesting content. One company finding video success is Tim Forrest Consulting has found success with his video channel over the past year. His consulting company has successfully integrated video into providing value worldwide with his food consulting insights. Tim offers the following insight on his video initiatives “start today sharing via video information and insight that will aid your customer markets, they will find you, listen, learn, and buy your offerings. Remember, YouTube is the #2 search engine behind google!”
10)SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERTS
So-called Social Media Experts will finally recognize that there is no such thing and will change their business cards and LinkedIn Profiles to reflect it. Social Media has so many tools, and they change so frequently, that becoming a master of all is impossible. It is possible to specialize on one or two, but to call oneself a Social Media Expert is disingenuous. As Chris Brogan stated in his recent blog post, Let’s go be non-experts. Let this be your challenge.
Here’s to 2012!