The relationship between marketing/advertising agencies and their clients is no longer one of simple give and take. In today's hypercompetitive landscape, with so many businesses vying for so little space and consumers with minuscule attention spans, agencies have to offer something more. And not just more material, more creative options, more lines of copy, but more strategy, more of an idea of where their client's business, as well as their industry, might be heading.
One way to do this is for agencies to be the ones who encourage proactive marketing. In a phrase I'm hesitant to use -- because it's 1) so clichéd and 2) something we should all be doing anyway -- agencies and their clients alike must think outside the box. They must be on their tiptoes, head on a swivel, surveying the competitive field at all times. A momentary lapse could mean the difference between the next big thing or nothing at all. And that, of course, could mean the difference between life or death for the business. Here, we've gathered three trends that could fuel some all-important proactive marketing at your next agency-client brainstorm.
The Rise of Post-Demographics
Our friends over at TrendWatching have been talking about this one for some time now, and it's safe to say that it's here -- and it's here to stay. Traditional demographic sectors don't exist like they used to. Consumers today constantly cross over these long-accepted boundaries, creating a marketplace that is as varied and unpredictable as ever. Brands, too, are beginning to cross over, and the results, at least so far, have been spectacular. There's an audience for your brand that you don't even know exists. It's time to discover it, and to market it.
Rate Me, Rate You
This trend is one of the many that has come about as a result of the "Uber effect." Here, brands have the ability to rate customers in the same way that customers rate brands. This helps to create a cycle of positive customer behavior and tip-top vendor service. Somewhat surprisingly (depending from what angle you're looking at it), customers have proven to enjoy being rated. (Perhaps there is some sort of video game-like virtual gratification involved.) This trend is tied closely to the use of mobile devices, so is still in its relative infancy, but there are many areas for two-way transparency to exploit, starting with insurance. Give customers a chance to prove themselves, with the opportunity for a reward, and you just might have them on the hook for good.
Crowdsourcing Done Right
These days, it's not uncommon for customers to know as much, or even more, about the products they use than the brands that make them. Brands should embrace this fact. Let your customers, the segment that knows you best, who supports you the most, have a say in the products you put out. Don't just take their input with a nod and a smile, but incorporate it, in some way or another, into what you do. Basically, don't wall yourself off in an ivory tower. Active collaboration has proven, time and again, to create the best results possible. One enterprising St. Louis microbrewery is giving (at least some of the) power to the people. The more everyone works together, the less likely anybody will be wrong.
The world of advertising we live and work in is crowded, competitive, and fickle. It can be all but impossible for marketers to find solid footing. But by always being proactive, we can at least have the best idea of where the ground will shift to next. We must be ever vigilant, on the search for that next big thing (or even that next little thing). By providing answers where clients didn't even know questions existed, we prove our value not just as marketers, but as forward-thinking, truly collaborative partners.