What’s the best way to predict the future? Some say it’s to create it. From a business standpoint, that means using analytical information regarding client engagement to help shape the future. That’s how we amassed this list of nine branding trends, which you should incorporate into your 2014 marketing game plan.
- Clients have high expectations. Since 2008, client expectation has increased 20 percent, while brands have only upped their game by 5 percent. Close this gap by accurately measuring your clients’ expectations in the coming year.
- Brands must have meaning. Simply being known isn’t enough. You must be known for something important to your clients. Be unique – communicate and illustrate what makes your firm different. Find ways to differentiate your service offerings from your competition and enhance your brand identity. Embrace the qualities that make you different. For more on this subject, check out Do you need a SWOT to Start Marketing Planning?
- Content is king. One of the top branding trends for 2014 is content marketing. It’s a specialty that deserves as much careful attention as any other aspect of your marketing game plan. Traditional marketing focuses on selling a service. Let’s get down to brass tacks, your clients do not find desperation appealing – your clients are attracted to things that they find interesting and draw them in.
- Mobile has moved mainstream. More clients today use mobile devices to scope out their options. Adapt new strategies and delivery methods that carry your message to mobile clients.
- Image-based outreach beats tedious texts. In the days before smartphones, text outreach was effective enough. However, visual content is far more powerful. Consider shifting your efforts to image-sharing platforms and initiatives. Try incorporating a firm video that shows your team’s passion. People love to see teams full of enthusiasm and passion and, a lot of times, firms who showcase their professional talent with visual content (images, video, etc) tend to receive more traffic and engagement.
- Integration is the key. Catering to the mobile audience doesn’t mean you neglect your traditional and digital audiences. Fuse your efforts together so the client’s experience with you feels fluid, whether you reach them through mobile, social media, your website, print ads or other avenues. Being flexible and willing to make the changes to more effectively reach your clients as their interests continue to evolve and change will allow your firm’s brand to continue to flourish.
- Specific categories win over cross-category generalities. To engage smarter clients, you must be smarter about marketing certain values to specific categories rather than trying to please everyone all the time.
- Marketing is more personal. Clients expect and even crave customized services and experiences. To show new clients that you deliver such prized commodities, engage them with personalized messaging and outreach. Try developing a fictional character for your client personas, giving them a name, a job title and even a picture. When you clearly define your client personas, you will be able to personalize your messaging and positioning to more effectively address their specific needs.
- Success goes beyond outreach to emotional engagement and brand differentiation. With bigger and better channels to reach your clients, the question must shift from, "should I be here?" to "what should I do, now that I’m here?" The idea is to capture and maintain their attention. In some ways, it is like dating. When you look at each channel, think about how you can appeal to audiences with your confidence, intelligence and ability to entertain. Instead of coming on strong (traditional approach), start thinking about ways you can attract clients to your firm’s brand without the hard sell. Think about how you can nurture a relationship.
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