I've been asked by Elegant Living, a regional magazine based out of St. Joseph, MO to write an article about "Marketing Predictions for 2011". Figured I'd share with you as well. Ready?
Shop Local - This is a consumer trend created by the recession and fueled by smart retailers who once found themselves being swallowed by "Big Box". For years there has been duplicity in the local chamber of commerce. "Buy Local" also meant buying at chain stores that just happen to be in the city limits. This new "Buy Local" trend is about helping your local merchant, your neighbor, and making sure most of the cash stays in town. Events like Farmer's Markets and new ideas like Market Day have all pushed consumer awareness that buying plastic from China or steak from a chain isn't in the best interest of the family next door.
Creating Relationships...First- The growth of social media gives smart retail owners "two way communication" that builds relationships with people who have never set foot in their shop. By using Twitter, Facebook, You Tube and a Business Blog retailers have the opportunity to not only "broadcast" a message but also LISTEN to what consumers want. The trick is using it wisely. Simply starting a blog, joining Twitter or pushing people to your Facebook Page is not going to work. You need a...plan. But for sure this media is "word of mouth" on steroids.
Mobile Technology - Remember when folks clipped coupons? Now, consumers get promotions, coupons and messages on their smart phones. Often when walking into their favorite store. This year products and services will find the consumer...first.
Hyper-Local Media - As traditional advertising (radio, television and newspaper) continue to deliver their product (and your ad) to fewer and fewer people, while raising their advertising rates, retail will seek out new "Hyper-Local" outlets in niche markets. Pipe dream? Not at all. Our company is involved in Webcast One LIVE a news/entertainment platform that reaches thousands of people each day. In addition, many places (Fort Dodge, Iowa - Grinnell, Iowa, Brooklyn, NY) are creating hyper-local news platforms on the Internet and beating the pants off traditional media for speed and interesting content. And, advertisers are following. It's a new "hyper-local" world on something as huge as the Web. Great concept.
Get On-Line...Yesterday- As much as folks "buy local" they also "buy global" if the product or service is interesting, engaging and fun. Once upon a time retail sold to folks "in town", then it was "regional" now...retail (even small) can sell global. But there is a trick: If your website looks like 1999 most shoppers will yell "PASS" and never come back. Get somebody to look at your site and get it right. If you are not selling on-line...get there...NOW.
Dwolla - Imagine spending $.25 per Internet transaction rather than say three or four percent. If you take credit cards for your business you know how the costs add up. As a retailer why give CitiBank more of your money? Now, you have a choice. Get hooked up with Dwolla... Never heard of 'em? Homegrown in Des Moines, and now national, it will save business thousands of dollars each year. It's the real deal.
None of this means that what we've "done for years" is going to go away? No...not right away. However the way we market to consumers and do business has undergone a vast change. As with anything you have choices. You can choose to be in the parade or simply watch it pass by. Us? According to the trends, we think we (and our clients) are marching in the right direction.