December 31, 2015

The Top 10 Marketing Trends That Will Define 2016- Daniel Newman, Forbes.

If relevance, context, and effective delivery aren’t the topic of regular conversations in your marketing department, 2016 is going to be a frustrating year for you.
Businesses need to keep a clear focus on the needs and expectations of their customers—a group that’s diverse and fragmented, with high expectations and little patience for anyone who can’t keep up. To stay competitive you need to be visible, and that’s no easy feat.
Which marketing trends should you be prepared to follow? Here’s a look at the 10 marketing trends that will drive conversations and conversions in 2016.

1. Embrace the Customer Experience Model. 

It’s been a slow grind for some, but marketing departments are moving from a silo of advertising and non-interactive communication toward becoming a natural part of the sales cycle and an extension of customer service. Marketers, using integrated tools, can engage with customers online, track the buyer’s journey, measure sentiment and loyalty, and match behavior with outreach tailored to meet their audience’s needs and interests. But for customers already bombarded with information, a great customer experience is becoming baseline. The year 2016 will see brand ambassadors given a higher priority, more effective customer engagement—using tactics highlighted below—and tighter collaboration with sales and support to directly affect conversion rates.

2. Will Ad Blockers Change the Game? 

Consumers are sick of in-your-face marketing. As marketers and builders engage in a healthy debate about the presence of ad blockers, the truth is that if advertising isn’t relevant it’s annoying—and consumers have little patience for anything annoying. How can a good brand get noticed? Watch for companies to continue to create advertisements that seamlessly blend with—rather than interrupt—the browsing experience, as well as to use those customer-centric insights to drive content and social engagement.

3. Dream and Market in 3D. 

Virtual reality literally drops people inside their favorite TV show, provides an on-the-ground preview of their next vacation, or puts them behind the wheel of their next car. Customer experience is priority number one and—although it’s still evolving—3D technology is poised to move from novelty to mainstream. It will start most heavily in the gaming industry, but as the technology to create and consume becomes more accessible, smart marketers will look for ways to bring their products to virtual life.

4. Marketers Will (Finally) Recognize Social Media as a Channel, Not a Strategy. 

Social media isn’t marketing, and it doesn’t work as a “strategy” on its own—something that seems to have finally sunk into the collective marketing consciousness. Social media is one platform of many, a tactic that does a great job of supporting broad campaigns but flounders by itself. This distinction will shape marketing strategies and budgetary considerations in 2016.

5.  Omnichannel Will be Retails Best Friend.

 Tweet for Pizza! Dominos has one of the catchiest omnichannel campaigns right now, but brands across the board will quickly learn that an integrated customer experience is essential—one that creates one smooth interaction, rather than multiple micro events. From addressing the causes behind abandoned shopping carts to creating an easy transition between online and bricks-and-mortar locations, omnichannel will improve the bottom line for both retailers and B2B.

6.  Big Data IS for Marketers

Big data, which includes social and unstructured data, is a goldmine for marketers. Until recently, many marketers shied away from big data because they lacked the skills—or the big budget resources—to translate it into something meaningful. Now, tools are coming to the marketplace that make mining and managing data easier than ever. 2016 will be a banner year for incorporating big data and perhaps more importantly, analytics into marketing decisions.

7.  Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

Marketers who’ve been lazy about pursuing mobile are about to miss the train altogether; the number of people who do their browsing on devices passed desktop users a while ago. For retailers, mobile is basic; for others, it soon will be. At a minimum, this means a mobile-optimized and responsive website, and may include custom apps and mobile-targeted campaigns. The frontrunners have already moved on to other things; mobile can’t be put off for another year.

8.  Video Use Explodes While Live Streaming Finds a Purpose.

 If you want to engage with millennials, video is a must-have marketing tactic; they prefer to find entertainment and education on YouTube over conventional channels like television. Snapchat, YouTube, gifs, Vine, and more are being consumed at a rapid rate. Streaming video takes this to the next level, and platforms like Periscope and Blab have put interactive live video into the hands of anyone with a smartphone. The next year will see video continue to shine and streaming move to the forefront of marketing, with innovative new campaigns that allow consumers to be the stars.

9.  No Rest for Content

It may sounds like a broken record, but content is still king—even more so given the deterioration of interruptive tactics. But context is a stronger factor than ever. With no decline in sight for the importance of good content, the next year will see greater focus on bringing influencers on board for more organic marketing. Storytelling will also play a key role in drawing consumers in and keeping them engaged. Natural, relevant content in the right channels will drive content campaigns.

10. Data (Read: Results) Will Be an Overarching Theme.

 It isn’t enough to think you should do it; feel good marketing is over. CEOs, CMOs, and every other influencer in the C-suite will look to marketers for data before, during, and after campaigns to validate return on their marketing investments.

The last year has brought a lot of change, but these trends also prove that the driving factors aren’t new, they’ve just grown up. Focusing on the customer, delivering value, and making decisions based on data as well as good ideas are the same currents that have carried successful marketers for decades. What’s new is the creativity and innovation needed to deliver that value to your customers when and where they need it.

Daniel Newman , Forbes.

December 30, 2015

Major Label Marketing – 20 Years Ago!


I recently ran across my notes for a presentation to the Sony Music National Distribution and Field Staff, when I was SVP of Marketing and Sales. It recaps the marketing tools we created in 1995 at Epic Records. We wanted our sales people, in branch offices across the country, to understand what materials were available and how comprehensive the effort was to support the Epic Records roster of artists. To do this we outlined all the different tools we created and in many cases, the quantities that were made. These were the days before the advent of digital distribution, streaming, YouTube, and Social Networking. I am not sure what we can learn from taking a look at what was. However, I found the notes intriguing.

Oasis’s (What’s the Story) Morning Glory, released in 1995.
I recall 1995 as being a very intense year, as I was spearheading the release of Michael Jackson’s greatest hits release, HIStory, along with my primary role of heading our label’s marketing efforts.  The roster was primarily rock and pop, including Babyface, Pearl Jam, Korn, Oasis, Sade, Ozzy Osbourne, Silverchair, Cyndi Lauper, Rage Against The Machine, Gloria Estefan, the Spin Doctors, and Luther Vandross.
In 1995, Epic packaged and released 302 singles in various configurations. Of these, 204 were promotional and 98 were commercial singles. These included CD singles, CD5’s, 7” vinyl, Cassingles, maxi Singles, and 12” vinyl releases. We released 74 frontline CD titles and 76 frontline cassette albums. Why we released two extra cassette albums I can’t remember. My how the world has changed!

Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy, released in 1994.
Epic marketing made 63 music videos that ranged from under $4,000 to nearly $300,000 to produce. That does not include the Michael Jackson videos that we produced under a separate budget that soared into the millions. But that’s another story! Videos in those days averaged under $90,000 each. Five of these videos went to #1. Nine of them made the Top 10, and we charted 23 promo videos. The video charts were essentially made up from surveying MTV, BET, The Box, Fuse, local TV video play, and video play in clubs. There was no YouTube. Any detection of product placement in our videos back then would get them summarily booted from an MTV programming meeting. Their “Standards & Practices” department judged videos for too much violence and language content. I often referred to them as the “Double Standards & Practices” department, as star level artists seemed to be measured by a different standard.
We placed print ads in over 200 different college newspapers, and with alternative and national print, ads ran in over 500 different publications.
We posted over 100,000 street snipes and placed over 2,100 TV spots. These ran on the various music networks, but also on local cable and even major network affiliates for some superstar level artists’ campaigns.
We tour-supported 20 acts (advanced money to cover tour losses) that year, and we made about 2.5 million promo pieces for retail, including posters and flats, stickers, tent cards for clubs, fliers, window clings, mobiles, and life-sized stand-ups. The tour support had major impact particularly for rock bands. Korn is a particular example of a band that was subsidized for over a year until their debut album gained the momentum to explode on a sales level.
Our promotion department spent millions in independent promotion and our sales department spent similar numbers in co-op advertising for the many retail chains, indie stores, and mass merchandisers who existed then. At one point, I roughly estimated that we had physical product in over 23,000 retail outlets. Manufacturing, shipping, inventory control, and timing were strategic factors in breaking artists. Given that this physical product was essentially 100% returnable, there were big risks in over-shipping, just as there were big risks in damaging demand if there was not enough stock in the right markets at the right time.

Sade’s greatest hits, The Best of Sade, released in 1994.
In hindsight, a lot of these expenditures look pretty inconsequential in today’s market. Most of it was totally inefficient by current standards. I was never a big fan of spending money on print advertising, but the online reach in 1995 was miniscule. Pressures came from various avenues, including managers and artists, senior management, and even the product managers who simply wanted to show the artist they could do something to support the release. Measurement of ROI was scarce, if meas
urable at all.
We often made second videos on second singles when no one was interested in the first one. Again, the pressures of an insecure business pushes buttons beyond logic. Panicked artists and demanding managers essentially exhorted us to do something!
Despite the dramatic loss of sales revenue over the past 20 years, the ability to make vastly more impressions is available to even the most indie artist. A couple of clicks today would likely have a greater reach than a regional cable TV buy back then. The entire print effort could be more efficiently targeted and generated online for a fraction of the money we spent chopping down trees. And of course, the point of sale material for music stores is virtually obsolete these days.
Interestingly, I have a list of the TV shows where we secured appearances for our artists, and it really hasn’t changed much. Letterman, MTV, E!, Oprah, Nickelodeon, and Good Morning America were on the radar then as many are today. Some have gotten more aggressive in how they program music, such as GMA. And of course, some have drastically reduced their commitment to music, like MTV. We would spend thousands to fly an act in to do a Letterman appearance, and we would feel a sales impact in most cases. Today, that support has waned as the impact of late night TV has become fragmented by the vast expanse of cable and online media.

Michael Jackson’s greatest hits, HIStory, released in 1995.
The labels worked hard to get music in films back then, and although music is still a vital element in filmmaking, soundtracks have faded in their number and importance. Even sync licensing, as a market tool as much as a revenue generator, dramatically and forever changed with Moby’s “Play” album in 1999.
We had a controlled market back in the day. It seems so rudimentary today, but it did work for many artists. It reminds me of those big clunky mobile phones we hauled around back then. It reminds me of those manufacturing plants in Carrolton, Georgia and Pitman, NJ, operating 24/7. Semi-trucks filled with CDs, and cassettes before that, and 8-tracks, and vinyl.
Those phones got much, much smaller didn’t they?   …And today, all that music is on those phones. The pressing plants are mostly gone. Those 23,000 record stores are mostly gone. And your phone is now your newspaper, your record store, your radio station, and the milk crate that holds all your albums.
And the phone changed something else too. The demand for celebrity autographs has faded too. You can just snap a selfie to prove you rubbed elbows with the stars. I’ll let you decide how it all changed the music and the artists.

So there’s a little, old-school snapshot from 1995. I guess it’s my selfie… and a selfie for a few of my friends.

Written by  Dan Beck and, 2015. 

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