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2011 - The Year to Evolve or Become Extinct?

(January 06, 2011) A look at Branding from blogger Lisa Flaiz, VP Strategic Growth & Innovation, at imc2 health & wellness.
Hard to believe, but according to those in the know, we have been in an economic recovery since June 2009. One reason for the continued stagnation is because the majority of people are still waiting to hire and spend until economic indicators tell them it's ok to do so. But according to Entrepreneur Magazine, some of you are on it! "Since the financial crisis laid waste to business as usual, the world is brimming with potential." So forget about dismal predictions of double-dip recessions for now and let's consider a few of the activities the movers and shakers will be doing in 2011 - our economic future may depend on it!

Social Shopping - Many marketers will be taking the buying experience social. E-commerce has gone social. Many brands already rely heavily on online conversations to drive sales. According to a recent MediaPost study, 51% of Twitter users reported that they follow companies, brands or products on social networks. Collective buying sites like Groupon and Living Social have integrated tools that allow users to easily share deals and recommendations, and plan activities with friends on Facebook and Twitter. Social shopping start-ups are hot right now. One recent addition is, which "turns purchases into conversations." When users swipe their credit card, the transaction shows up on the site for the community to discuss. Considering that over half of consumers or anonymous online peers are the number one source of influence in a purchase decision in several large retail categories, this is pretty smart.

Purpose Marketing - Marketers will define their brand's purpose. Brands increasingly must stand for something beyond rational features and benefits. But it can't just be for the "cause of the day" or for what marketers think their consumers want to hear. Doing what others do, just because they are doing it, won't work very long or very effectively. Efforts by a brand to connect with its consumers based on congruent values will need to be believable, sustained and engaging. Some of the strongest will come from those brands that connect the public and the personal in today's financially-strained world. Differentiation remains critical to brand success as the proliferation of products and services available to consumers continues. While true innovation does exist when it comes to the offerings available, increasingly differentiation will come from what the brand offers emotionally to consumers.

Engagement Strategies - We all know that "Content is King" was the mantra through the 1990s and then "Context was Queen". Today, it's essential to keep customers engaged with a brand via different touchpoints like Websites, search, social, email, apps, and more. Savvy marketers know it's their job to become intimate with the media consumption habits of their consumers, and to select a variety of integrated touchpoints - or engagement vehicles - with which to build an always-on marketing ecosystem that creates an experience around a brand. Engagement is not a fad; it's the way today's consumers do business. Marketers will continue to use engagement methods like the right platform, program, message and experience. But there is a bold, game-changing, transformational school of thought "out there" that says there is only one objective for the future -- Brand Engagement. What marketers must remember is attaining real brand engagement is impossible using out-dated awareness/acquisition models.

Accommodating these trends will require changes in how companies measure, manage and market their brands. Change is an opportunity to be innovative. However, for brands that ignore these trends, treat these trends as scary changes and don't take the opportunity to leverage them, they may very well lose their last chance to be leading marketers.

Blog Post from Lisa Flaiz
VP Strategic Growth & Innovation
imc2 health & wellness
iMedia Connection

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