I have just two predictions for this year, and I hope I’m right about them because they support the best business practices as well as genuine business relationship building. While not new concepts in the ‘real world’, in the online marketing universe I think they will reach their tipping point in 2013.
Both of these trends are driven by the strong need for genuine meaning and connection which we all have …
1) Brand Community Building
Businesses and brands will start to understand how important it is to nurture and cultivate their own client community. In fact, ‘client’ does not really describe it. ‘Tribe’ (Seth Godin, Ed Dale), and ‘Cult’ (Leela Cosgrove) are more to the point, where ‘customers’ become fanatically dedicated and engaged individuals who will market your business a thousand times more effectively than a 5 minute viral YouTube video can ever do.
Integrity, congruence and knowing what you are about and what you have to offer is both the key and your starting point. It will be a bit of a journey to discover how to tap into this ‘life force’ for your business, but its definitely worth it.
In terms of how this relates to marketing – the online medium (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and others) will be actively used to consolidate this and bind these brand communities.
2) Personal Recommendation Power
My second prediction relates again to connectedness. Personal recommendation by people you know (or who are in your circle) are gold.
Until now, testimonials, ‘likes’ and reviews have easily been able to either be purchased or rorted (fake reviews). I believe this will start to lose its power as site such as Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn have people you personally know (or know of) sharing their recommendations, and responding to requests for help.
People will start to understand the power of these recommendations as they themselves start to rely on it more. For example, I had a friend recently ask on Facebook a good hotel to stay in Sydney. Not only did one person respond with a recommendation, but another also said it was the best place she had stayed at. Now, next time I need a place to stay in Sydney (or next time someone asks me), this is the only place I will recommend!
The good news about both of these predictions is that if you keep your main focus on providing the best customer experience for your clients, others will do your marketing work for you – and at no cost to you.
Because you have already proved and earnt it.
Finally, not so much marketing related, but completely intertwined with the above two predictions above will be the drive of business owners finding their own “Sweet Spot” (Rich Schefren). The sweet spot is the *intersection point* of your passion, skill, interest and experience which when honed in on will not only provide the best business direction and identity for you (to feed into points 1 & 2 above), but make you immune to competition because ‘No one is more You-er than You” (Dr Seuss).
She has over 15 years experience in the online world including being one of the first Learning Technology Mentors @ TAFE in Western Australia, building an online community (Pink Sofa) from a spare bedroom operation to a successful word wide brand with 100,000’s of women, and has overseen the build of over a 100 websites for businesses, festivals and community projects. She started her own business – onlineiq – 5 years ago and is dedicated to increasing the online confidence of ordinary* business owners, so they can use the web to get leads, keep up with the competition and make sales. She also specialises in setting up processes and automation so your business and marketing workflows are integrated, reliable and done for you![She is not saying the business owners are ordinary! Just that they don’t need to be geeks to have a chance at succeeding online !]