5 Marketing Trends for 2012

By December 20, 2011Blog

‘Tis the season for blog posts and articles on the “Best/Worst of 2011” and trend-watching for 2012.  I don’t know how many marriages Kim Kardashian will have or if Justin and Selena will tie the knot.  But I do believe these are the top 5 marketing trends that decision-makers should be watching in 2012:

  1. The Buy Local movement will grow.  American Express’s very well-executed “Small Business Saturday” campaign is just the tip of the iceberg for this trend.  Thanks to awareness campaigns, word-of-mouth, and the continued flat economy, buying local will be even hotter in 2012.  The lesson for locally-owned businesses is to not suck at branding.  This starts by actively participating in the Buy Local movement.  It also means investing in first impressions: logo, signage, web, etc.  People want to buy local, but they don’t want to buy local crap.
  2. “Indie” brands will stay hot.  Similar to the Buy Local movement, Indie brands are hot right now.  Indie brands are more about un-establishment rather than anti-establishment.  This means they are edgy and different, but still have some mass appeal.  These are small record labels, regional chains (i.e. Dutch Brothers), small clothing lines, etc.  The #1 goal for Indie brands (besides having great products) is to have a findable and usable web site – and making sure it is integrated with your social media efforts.
  3. Mobile web will (almost) reach small businesses.  Since the web is people-driven, it will evolve as people change their habits, new technologies emerge, etc.  One example is the rise of mobile web that has been fueled by smart phones, 4G, and greater access to wifi.  For smaller businesses, this means making sure your web site is mobile-enabled – and making sure that you have a good presence on Google Maps.  By mid to late 2012, I also think you will see more small business related mobile apps.  As the cost of app development drops, savvy small businesses will start do use apps to promote their brands and sell products.
  4. Integration is in.  This trend has emerged in larger brands the last few years.  In short, it means integrating your visual identity, message, offerings, etc through all mediums.  This is not a new concept. However, the fragmentation of old media and the emergence of all the new media platforms, it is certainly more difficult.  For small business owners, this means making sure that all of your marketing vendors are talking to each other.  This traditionally hasn’t happened, so be prepared for drama and push-back from each of them.  Or get them all in a room and post the video on YouTube!   The bottom-line: by not integrating your brand across all mediums, you will dilute your brand, confuse your audience, and look like an amateur.
  5. Interaction will be a requirement. Other than small pockets within certain demographics, the idea of “passive” branding is pretty much dead.  Passive branding is part of the old thinking about saturation – that enough people see your billboard or see/hear your ad, then it creates brand awareness.  And brand awareness leads to sells. In the words of Keyshawn Johnson, “C’mon Man!” The business owner in you wishes it works this way, but the consumer in you knows it doesn’t.  If you are going to do outbound marketing (radio, TV, billboard, print, direct mail, PPC, etc), you have to give something for people to DO!  This is why QR codes are hot right now.  I’m not sure this trend will continue, because 90% of where the scan takes you is boring or poorly executed.  However, the idea of getting your audience to do something is on the right track.  The same rule applies to e-mail marketing, text marketing, social media advertising, etc. – using these tools is not enough.  There has to be interaction – or at a minimum, a call to action or offer.
An over-arching trend that effects all brands is that the consumer is in charge.  Almost without exception, you need them far more than they need you.  So whatever medium or method you use, keep this in mind.  Treat your audience with respect.  Be clear in your offer.  Tell them what makes you different/better.  Then love ’em up when they buy from you.


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