'Be prepared' - is the main advice for 2011 from The Marketing Eye

  • The Stock market has a Santa ride to a year-end high, interest rates remain low, inflation is above target, but not a major cause for concern, and manufacturing and exports are picking up.

    So, what is there to worry about?

    Well potentially, quite a lot. Expect an early adjustment to the stock market as soon as trading re-commences next week, interest rates will rise before the year is out and fuel will be more than 130p per litre by the time most of you read this. Hopefully, we won't have to add a series of strikes or, worse still, another General Election, to the obstacles we have to overcome during the year.

    But this doesn't mean gloom and despondency.

    Far from it. One of the first laws of good marketing practice is to understand your environment and if we go into the year suitably prepared for what is to come, we will have nothing to fear. As an old riding instructor once said: "There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad kit".

    2010 was a significant one for The Marketing Eye. We doubled our headcount, launched a PR business and consolidated our reputation in event management. While it looks as though we will miss our stretching turnover target by a small margin, we will still achieve 50% growth - no mean achievement in a culture where, historically, the first reaction to any sign of difficulty has been to cut the marketing budget.

    We are very grateful to new clients and old for the trust they have placed in us and consider ourselves fortunate to have clients that see marketing and The Marketing Eye as part of the solution, not part of the problem.

    To look back on earlier posts is always amusing and, fortunately, I seem to have avoided any grave embarrassment with my predictions for 2010.

    Marketing budgets were indeed hard won and major projects were either cancelled or heavily diluted. The focus on ROI was sharp - as it always should be.

    Businesses in the UK made good progress with social media. Twitter moved on from 'toe-in-the-water' dabbling to an accepted way of engaging with a community that continues to grow exponentially. The non-believers, however, remain abundant. The art is to be discerning with who you follow and to build your profile with a relevant audience. Note the use of the word 'relevant' here.

    Facebook fan pages have come a long way, with personalised Facebook URL's now being common place in promotional material. The Marketing Eye is using Facebook for short news items - a rolling commentary on what is happening in the business - and finding a good fit for it within our overall communications strategy.

    The marketing soothsayers are out in force with their predictions for 2011. Picking our way through them, our 'Big 5' tips are:

    • Wake up to the reality of the 2012 Olympics. There will be more sport related references in marketing and sport sponsorship will become fashionable and effective. Lawyers will no doubt be busy advising on and defending against breaches of Olympic copyright.

    • Make sure your website is fully accessible on mobile browsers. There will be an explosion in mobile marketing and if your website is not accessible on a smartphone, make sure it is by the end of the year. Mobile is another reason to join in with Twitter and Facebook as these are easily and regularly accessed via smartphone apps.

    • Rein back on content generation. People are not reading reams of content online: instead, it is bite sized bulletins that can be consumed in downtime on smartphones that are needed. Be discerning in what you produce and who you send it to. - and don't forget to use PR to gain coverage in printed publications, radio and TV.

    • Don't get too excited by geo-location networks. 4Square and its compatriots are touted as the 'next big thing', but have all the signs of being a fad. There will surely be a backlash against revealing personal locations as people realise they are only of benefit to advertisers.

    • View marketing automation with healthy suspicion. Marketing automation gained ground as a buzzword in 2010, particularly in the US. Marketers must, of course, make use of all the technology at their disposal to increase the frequency and relevance of their communications. We sense, however, the same whiff of panacea as was promised by CRM systems in the 1990's. Any system is only as good as the information that is put into it and the people that access it. Marketing silver bullets will remain works of fiction. There will never be any substitute for an integrated and sustained programme of activity across a variety of media.
    As well as paying heed to the foregoing, our 'be prepared' kit for 2011 will include even greater focus on client service to ensure we retain and reward the clients that we have; a new emphasis on making a contribution to the community in which we work, financial prudence to make sure we remain masters of our own destiny and a relentless commitment to building brand awareness in our core target markets.

    On which note, may we wish you all a happy, successful and marketing led 2011.

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