Watch For These Marketing Trends In 2019

To maximize your marketing in the year ahead, it’s important to know how to connect with your audience in the ever-evolving marketing landscape. With new technologies and new behaviors impacting the effectiveness of your marketing, it pays to consider the past year’s patterns and note emerging trends.
Here, author Deep Patel shares some of the biggest marketing trends to keep an eye on in 2019.

A shifting marketing funnel. Instead of creating a marketing funnel that accepts anyone, move toward niche audiences. Contacting people and businesses who are interested in your products and services saves you money and time.

Content rises in importance. People crave phenomenal content. In the year ahead, think about how you can create articles or videos that inspire your audience, provoke their thoughts, appeal to their emotions, or excite them. Don’t just write a post to write it; craft a piece with a goal of getting readers to share and engage with it. When you do, you open the door for two-way communication, which ultimately helps you build trust.

AI’s growth continues. Artificial intelligence (AI) can help you target potential leads faster and can perform all kinds of tasks such as monitoring consumers’ online patterns. No matter how you choose to take advantage of AI in the year ahead, it’s smart to pay attention to how your audience reacts to it and whether your competitors use it.

An uptick in chatbots. In 2019, these AI helpers aren’t going anywhere. Grand View Research reports that the worldwide chatbot market will reach $1.25 billion by 2025, growing 24.3 percent annually. Plus, your customers likely want to use chatbots instead of calling someone or sending an e-mail. Nearly half (45 percent) of end users prefer using chatbots for customer service.

Consumers pay more attention to security. People want to know how businesses handle their information, so ensure that your company’s security is thorough. In an era of hacks, leaks and theft, make sure to discuss your security with customers. What are you doing to ensure the safest business experience?

Voice search gets louder. If you haven’t yet explored voice search, make 2019 the year to get ahead of the game by making sure you’re optimized for voice searches. Search Engine Land predicts voice-based commerce sales will soar to $40 billion by 2022.

Visual searches take off. Voice searches will be huge this year and so will visual searches thanks to new camera technology that allows people to find information about something simply by snapping a photo. To take advantage of visual searches, make sure you include Pinterest in your marketing efforts and optimize your website for SEO.

A greater focus on Gen Z. Members of the second-youngest generation crave authenticity and prefer socially responsible businesses. As they get older, their buying power increases. Make sure your marketing reflects what matters to this group to best connect with them in 2019.

Influencers become more personal. While celebrities used to dominate influencer marketing, consumers now lean toward their peers to decide what to buy. Instead of celebrity marketing, many brands are turning to real people (micro-influencers) because people trust individuals like them.

To win at marketing in the year ahead, don’t keep doing what you have always done. Keep an eye on emerging technologies, methods and patterns to maximize your marketing efforts.

Source: Deep Patel is the author of A Paperboy’s Fable: The 11 Principles of Success. The book was dubbed the No. 1 best business book in 2016 by Success Magazineand named the best book for entrepreneurs in 2016 by Entrepreneur Magazine.

What Leaders Should Know About the Rumor Mill

My company recently announced an organizational change. An entire department that used to report to one senior leader was told it would now report to a different senior leader. The funny thing is that when the change was announced, the reaction among employees was, “So what?”

The reason for the apathetic attitude? This rumor had already been circulating around the company for months, so by the time the actual move took place, people no longer had a reaction to it.

In her recent Forbes article, Dr. Carol Kinsey Goman, an expert body language coach, stated that 70 percent of communication that takes place within an organization comes through the grapevine, yet many senior leaders are unaware that it exists or how it operates. In this case, the “grapevine” is the informal and unsanctioned communication network found in every organization.

Goman interviewed more than 1,100 employees in a wide variety of companies and industries regarding the power of the grapevine.

1. Rumor trumps the actual source. Goman’s interviews revealed that if there were conflicting messages—one delivered during a speech from the company leader and another spread through the grapevine—more people (47 percent) would believe the grapevine, and only 42 percent would believe senior leadership. (The remaining 11 percent were undecided.)

2. Put it in writing. Goman found that putting something in writing tends to give the content more validity. When she asked if people were more likely to believe an official newsletter (online or print) versus the rumor mill, most respondents (51 percent) favored the newsletter, with only 40 percent placing more faith in the grapevine.

3. Direct supervisors were the most trusted sources of information. Due to the more personal relationship that exists between employee and supervisor, it wasn’t surprising that 74 percent said they would believe their boss. Still, many stipulated that it would depend on the quality of that relationship.

4. Certain situations escalate the rumor mill. In her interviews, Goman discovered there were some conditions when you should expect the rumor mill to kick into high gear: These conditions include:

  • When formal communication is lacking
  • When the situation is ambiguous or uncertain (as in times of major change)
  • When there is no sanctioned channel for venting
  • When there is a culture of silos and internal competition
  • When the communicator’s body language (gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice) contradicts his/her verbal message
  • When there is a heavy-handed attempt by management to kill the grapevine

5. Multiple sources of truth. In Goman’s study, 57 percent believed the rumor mill was accurate, but what tends to happen most often in the workplace is that people believe a “blend” of what they hear, rather than making a clear choice between more formal communication and the grapevine.

Companies are a combination of formal hierarchy and informal networks, but most communication strategies consider only the formal organization. While we will always need authentic speeches from senior leaders, for example, it’s just as important to understand the power and influence from the complex web of social interactions and informal networks within our organizations. Identify the most influential people who operate within it and listen to the information being communicated by them.

Source: Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D., is an international speaker and a body language coach who helps politicians, business executives and sales teams align their verbal and nonverbal messages for greater impact and professional success.

Get Your Day Back By Saying No

Yep, it happened again this morning. My coffee was hot. I had my task list laid out for the day, and I was ready to seize the day. Then the distractions started.

A coworker walked into my office with a “quick question” that turned into a 30-minute discussion. Then, I got a call to join a meeting that was in progress, because they needed my feedback. I had no sooner arrived back at my desk when I received an e-mail asking for more detailed instructions on a project I was roped into the week before. I looked up and it was noon. I hadn’t even started on task No. 1 for the day.

Here, we’re sharing insights about time management from Mike Schultz, president of RAIN Group a sales training organization. Schultz hears similar stories from clients across the country. In order to help employees get their days back and become more productive, he offers insight into four things you should decline on a regular basis.

Prune your priorities. The adage goes, if you have 12 priorities, you have none. Schultz notes that many leaders not only have too many priorities, but they also often don’t have the right priorities. He suggests that leaders who want to lower the number of priorities and focus on the right ones ask themselves which ones they’re excited about. His mantra for this: “If it’s not a gung-ho, it’s a no.” Select five key priorities you need to focus on for the day, and work from there.

Turn down the noise. Office and remote workers alike are being bombarded daily with requests that take their time. If you are being called into too many office meetings, ask the meeting planners in advance about the meeting agenda and how you can be helpful. If the planner only needs you for five minutes out of the 60-minute meeting, arrange for when you can join the meeting to provide that update and leave immediately afterwards. You’ve just saved yourself 55 minutes.

Keep a “to-don’t” list. Most leaders know what they want to accomplish and keep a to-do list to manage their time. But what about a list of what you need toavoid to stay focused. Keep a list of tasks that you should not be doing right now and keep it nearby your to-do list. For instance, you know that a presentation is due next week, but it isn’t high priority today, like the other tasks you need to complete. Write down that this presentation should not be a part of your day (just for today) and keep the to—don’t list as a reminder to stop yourself from working on that project—at least until the high-priority tasks have been completed. There will be a time when working on this project is a mandatory task.

Say no to your bad work habits. Bad habits are to blame for sabotaging time, no matter what the vice is. Do you check e-mail so often that it distracts you from your workload? Do you reach for your phone every time you hear it buzz? Do you check your fantasy football team every hour to make sure none of your players have reported an injury that will prevent him from playing? Well, it’s time to put those behaviors to an end—if you’re aiming to be more productive, that is. Even if these distractions only appear momentarily, they’re still absorbing precious time in your workday that could be used to complete tasks.

Source: Mike Shultz is the director of the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research and president of RAIN Group, a global sales training and performance improvement company.

Promotional Food Tips & Trends

If you make your money selling food, should you give it away as a promo product? The connection seems like a natural fit, but the reality is that the food service industry looks first to apparel and hard goods when it comes to their promotional needs.

Still, don’t discount food as a powerful gift, especially as suppliers offer the capability to integrate it into a kitted package. Mosinee, WI-based Maple Ridge Farms (asi/68680) has added logoed mugs, beach bags, towels, tumblers, cheese boards and office accessories to its food baskets from suppliers that distributors already trust. “The great thing for our distributor partners is they get to utilize those same supplier relationships and pair it together with our food gifts,” says Jodie Schillinger, director of customer care for Maple Ridge Farms. “Suppliers are trying to be more agile in competing with e-commerce. We’re competing with insta-click and ship. We need to ask ourselves, what are you doing to disrupt it back?”

As far as food trends, Schillinger says spice-infused foods and candies are popular now, echoing the National Restaurant Association report that saw ethnic spices come in at number 10 on its Top 20 Food Trends list for 2018 and number two on its Condiments and Accouterments forecast. Sea salt is also on-trend, Schillinger says: Maple Ridge Farms’ sea salt chocolate caramels – a “rookie product just a few years ago,” she adds – is now its bestselling chocolate.

Wood is also trending, she says, in the form of crates to hold food and cutting boards inside food-gift baskets.

Will Smith’s Top Video Tips

Video is a great way to market your business. According to Vidyard, 70 percent of marketers say that video creates more conversions than any other type of content. However, as effective as video is at marketing products and services, it is increasingly difficult to be noticed—especially in a world where more content is uploaded to YouTube in 30-days than was created during the first 30 years of television.

Actor Will Smith knows a thing or two about building an audience. When he posts a new video on YouTube, he attracts four million viewers. Smith recently spoke at Advertising Week about strategies marketers could use to build their own video audiences. Today, we’ll share these fun and effective video tips from the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

Be flexible. When Smith was making Fresh Prince in the 1980s, the show stuck to a rigid formula. In today’s climate, where reviews of shows and videos are released instantaneously, a rigid plan can do more harm than good. “You have to be paying attention,” he told his audience.

Be deliberate. Focus on quality over quantity. “The quality of the storytelling leads the engagement and then how much you’ll be able to carry people along with you,” Smith said. People are not going to be interested in viewing content that is not captivating, or does not have a message to communicate. But if a company films a commercial that tells the story of a product in a particularly interesting way, it may catch your attention.

Be daring. “I know if I post something on Saturday night with me dancing, it’ll be my biggest post for the week,” Smith said, emphasizing that the biggest wins happen when you venture outside of your conference zone. (But don’t go too overboard, as it may turn off customers.)

Be human. “The question is ‘How do my products, and how do my services, improve lives?'” Smith said. Reading the comments can help to gauge how people are receiving the content. “Staying in touch with people and not in touch with numbers and products has been really helpful for me over the past year.” Humans build relationships; computers do not. Stay in touch with the people in your network, even if the topics of conversation include non-business-related issues.

Be authentic. According to Smith, “Authenticity is going to be at the center of being able to create and succeed with this next generation.”

Source: Krystle Davis is a senior manager for Forbes BrandVoice.

Why Rituals Matter To Your Success

In business, rituals play an important role. The famous business and life coach, Tim Ferris often talks about his five morning rituals: he makes his bed, meditates for 10 to 20 minutes, does at five to 10 reps of a light exercise followed by some strong tea and finally, he finishes his routine by journaling for five to 10 minutes.

Since we are creatures of habit, rituals can set the intention and tone of our day. Like running through scales, rituals can be mindless ways to clear our minds and allow us to listen to ourselves.

Michael Hyatt, CEO of Michael Hyatt & Company, a leadership development firm, says that there are five benefits to rituals, which we’ll explain here.

First, Hyatt points out that the whole point of the ritual is as much mental as physical. He uses the game of golf as an example. He has a set of rituals, or steps, he goes through every time he approaches the tee box. He says, “I’m not just fine-tuning my stroke, I’m also conditioning my mind for the best possible shot. By dropping into the groove, I get out of my own way.”

Hyatt points out five benefits of optimized rituals:

  1. Help put you in a mental and physical groove for high performance, whatever you’re doing. You’re lined up for the workday with far fewer distractions.
  2. Allow you to perform at a predictably high level. The routine leaves less to chance, so you can focus on performing your best.
  3. Stop you from overthinking, so you’re not constantly engineering and reengineering your entire performance. This frees you up not to worry about whether you can perform but helps you focus on simply how best to do so.
  4. Allow you to upgrade your performance because you’ve broken apart the individual steps. Now, you can focus on tweaking them individually.
  5. Give you a sense of purpose and confidence. By working your ritual, you set your mind and body at ease and take control of what you can control.

That’s why even the most seasoned musicians run their scales before performing. So what are your rituals?

Source: Michael Hyatt is the founder and CEO of Michael Hyatt & Company, a leadership development firm specializing in transformative live events, workshops, and digital and physical planning tools. Formerly chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Hyatt is also a New York TimesWall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of several books, including Living Forward and Platform.

Top Three Things Employers Look For In Job Candidates

In a recent article, Forbes author Shelcy Joseph interviewed Michael Fraccaro, chief human resources officer at MasterCard. She asked him to share what he looks for in a potential hire. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we’ll share what he had to say.

Skills and culture fit. “We’re looking for people who can demonstrate the skills needed for the job they’re applying for—but, equally, if not more important, are people whose motivation and attitude fit with our culture. Candidates should definitely look into those aspects of the company beforehand. Just as you might check Yelp before trying a new restaurant, research the kind of work environment and culture you’re applying to. You can use resources like Glassdoor, Fishbowl, YouTube and other social sites to get an idea of what a company is like from the inside.”

Personality.“In the interview process, candidates who demonstrate grit, curiosity, optimism, a global mindset and a knack for problem-solving tend to make a positive impression. We also value people who are good at building relationships and have a healthy outlook about work-life balance. Being able to speak simply is also important. We deal in a very technical space, but we need to be able to translate what we do so people of all backgrounds can understand. Sharing stories and giving relatable examples are two good ways to make a complex subject simple and engaging. This shows not only that you know your content, but that you’re also able to help people connect with a topic they may not be familiar with. This is a kind of leadership that people at all levels of an organization can demonstrate.”

Agility. “Remember also that how you get things done is just as important as what you’ve done. Employers today take into account how you operate and make decisions in addition to what you’ve delivered. In this fast-paced, increasingly unpredictable world, we’re sometimes faced with new or never-before-seen circumstances. In those instances, it’s important for a company to be confident in the personal qualities such as integrity, fairness and decency that will guide an employee’s responses in situations that can’t be known in advance. They want to be confident that the choices you’ll make will be in line with the company’s values. Personal principles and intentions matter. Be prepared to reflect those in your responses during an interview.”

Fraccaro’s best advice to job candidates: “Be yourself and ask good, thoughtful questions. At Mastercard, as in probably most places, we want people who will bring their hearts and minds and authentic selves to work.”

Source: Shelcy V. Joseph is a contributor to Forbes. She is also the founder of millennial career website A Millennial’s Guide to Life and event series NYCxClothes & Friends. She loves telling stories that move and inspire people to explore their full potential and live their best life.

How Marketing Can Regain Control

Traditionally, marketing has been associated with the four P’s – price, placement, promotion and product. However, if you were to look at a typical business-to-business marketing organization today, this function is being diluted.

For example, marketing doesn’t typically own the product anymore; that’s the responsibility of product strategy or product development teams. And, in some larger companies, there’s typically an entire team that manages pricing as well.

Another area that has shifted is demand generation. With customer relationship management technology, the customer funnel is now controlled by sales. This new structure could mean more dilution of marketing responsibilities and a one-step-removed approach from revenue-generating activity.

What can B2B marketing leaders do to guard against the watering down of their departments?  We share these steps from Debbie Qaqish, a principal partner and chief strategy officer at The Pedowitz Group.

A New Mindset. Your mindset is the collection of thoughts and beliefs that shape your behavior and habits. How do you think about marketing? What do you believe is marketing’s role?

There are two beliefs about marketing that shape today’s successful B2B marketer. First, B2B marketing is a revenue- and growth-driver of the organization. Next, B2B marketing is enabled by technology.

In companies where marketing is a revenue- and growth-driver, marketing isn’t facing dilution. Marketing in these organizations is actually acquiring more responsibilities. This realization is often the most difficult step because not just marketing, but sales, finance and the executive team may have to change as well. In organizations where marketing is diluted, marketing is often viewed as a “pens and mugs” and “activity-based” department. Once the right mindset is established, it can then be supported by the right skill set and the right tool set.

A New Skill Set. More attention is being paid to new technology than training marketers to acquire new skill sets, creating more opportunities for marketing to be diluted.

For example, imagine a large company where the marketing team is not viewed as very technical or analytical. That may have happened because when the marketing ops group was formed, it fell under the IT department. This is often a mistake as marketing ops is not an IT function. Had marketing acquired the right mindset and skill set, it could have owned marketing operations.

A New Tool Set. The concept of marketing automation today is typically not a problem, although some B2B marketers still operate without marketing automation. The issue today is that most marketing teams have too much technology; they don’t know how to optimize the tools they have. Determining what to buy, how to integrate and what to capture becomes a highly technical and analytical role within the company. For this reason, it’s common for marketing to borrow this capability from other parts of the organization — especially around analytics. This is a big mistake. If you want to own all of your potential, you need to have this capability entirely in marketing. Not doing so sets up more potential dilution and eliminates new responsibilities.

The Plus In The Equation. Positively, marketing is now impacting customer engagement. Marketing is beginning to lead the pivot away from product -focused to customer -focused companies by creating optimal customer experiences at every stage of the lifecycle. Customer engagement is an exciting set of new responsibilities for marketing, but marketing teams that are highly diluted will never get the chance to lead and participate. As the role of marketing continues to evolve, marketers must also evolve and become customer-focused change agents, accountable for revenue. As a modern marketer, you must guard against dilution by understanding these changes, challenges and possibilities. Then, take proactive measures to get your mindset, skill set and tool set in alignment.

Source: Debbie Qaqish is principal partner and chief strategy officer of The Pedowitz Group. She manages global client relationships and leads the firm’s thought leadership initiatives. She has been helping B2B companies drive revenue growth for over 35 years.

How To Stay Balanced And Be Heard

For many of us, a large portion of our time is spent at work; in fact, the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. It’s safe to say a job can make a huge impact on your quality of life.

However, how would you rate the quality of your conversations at work? How well do you know the colleagues with whom you interact on a daily basis? With so much of our time spent at work, it is important to foster an engaged and supportive workplace, and bring meaningful conversations into the office.

In a 2017 study on Global Human Capital Trends, Deloitte found that rather than focusing narrowly on employee engagement and culture, organizations need to develop an integrated focus on the entire employee experience, from the work environment to management practices to supporting functions.

Today, we share advice from business blogger Muir Keir to help businesses positively influence the entire employee experience.

Leaving “balance” undefined. The term ‘work-life balance’ is a regular topic of discussion in modern workplaces. Various strategies are put in place toencourage employees to achieve a work-life balance. However, the distinct line between work and home is no longer clear-cut, and our leisure time is regularly infiltrated by work, because of our own expectations or those of others. With today’s ability to access email and text messages 24/7, it’s easy for this spillover to take place.

The first step companies can take is to recognize that balance is unique to each individual. There is no “one-size-fits-all” concept. Perhaps we can help our teams achieve true balance in their lives by first accepting that the term is entirely subjective or even undefinable. Perhaps we can empower our employees by declaring that as managers we are comfortable that employees create this for themselves.

This means giving employees some autonomy in terms of hours they work and where they work to achieve their personally defined balance, which leads to flexibility.

Engaging through flexibility. Like balance, flexibility is innately personal and strongly valued. Flexibility in the workplace is key not only to increasing employee satisfaction, but also to fostering someone’s unique approach to completing a job to the best of their ability which, in return, results in increased productivity.

An example of flexibility is with the industry giant, Philips. This company developed and implemented employee leave policies that by default enable flexibility at work, including parental leave, grandparent leave, purchased leave and domestic violence leave available to all staff. Building on personalized support, the company also focus on employees transitioning through different stages of their career, including offering detailed career transition planning for those considering their path to retirement.

Creating a forum to be heard. Paramount to ensuring that employers stimulate meaningful conversation is to provide a forum where employees can be heard. Employees face unique personal challenges throughout their careers, and they should be supported to manage these in their own way. This is why many companies now have an employee assistance program (EAP), offering an extensive range of support services to all staff, as well as formal quarterly employee engagement surveys which allows everyone to have a say in how they feel about the organization.

That step of being heard simply starts with a personal question to an employee: How are you doing today and how can I make today a better day for you?

Source: Muir Keir is general manager of personal health at Philips Australia and New Zealand.

How To Plan Now For The Next 10 Years

Business author Rich Allen says that running a successful business requires a clear idea of where you want your business to be 10 years from now. It means having your own North Star that not only inspires you, but inspires your team as well. Essentially, if you want to get somewhere and you want people to follow you there, you have to visualize it first; you can’t be a leader without vision.

While that seems like obvious advice, the problem is, most of us are too busy tackling the everyday challenges to sit back and look at what we’re doing and where we want to be. Buried under the daily pressures of running a business, most small-business owners can barely think six months ahead, let alone 10 years.

Here, we are sharing Allen’s four simple steps to picture your business a decade in the future, and chart the best course to get there.

1. Start with the mountaintop. Imagine your business 10 years from now. Write down all the particulars you can of what your business looks like. There are no right or wrong answers here. The point is to focus on your vision of your business in the future: where you want to go, and what you want it to look like. Don’t worry about whether it will actually turn out this way.

Think about:

  • How many team members you’ll have
  • What locations you’ll have
  • What products and services you offer
  • How your business is structured
  • What your ideal customer or client looks like
  • What kind of volume you’re doing

 

2. Back up five years. Once you have the 10-year vision in writing, back up halfway. In five years, where do you need to be in order to be on track to hit that 10-year point? Cover the same details, and write them down. For instance:

  • How many people are on your team?
  • Do you have half the locations as in 10 years?
  • Are you offering the same products as services as now, or the same as in 10 years?
  • Have you found your ideal customers yet?
  • Are you doing half the volume you’re doing in 10 years?
  • Are you still going into work every day? What’s your own life like in five years?

 

3. Back up two more years. Now that you have your five-year vision, take it back to the three-year version of your business. Ask the same questions, and think about whether or not your three-year vision backs up your five-year vision: are you on the right course? Where do you have to be in here years in order to achieve your five-year goals?

4. Back up to next year. Finally, flip the script entirely: You need to take a sharp look at the next year—and now you have a 10-year perspective to do it in. So ask yourself: where do I need to be next year to be on track to reach my three-year vision? Use the same criteria, and make sure it’s as specific as possible.

By starting at the top and working your way back, you’ve already set up your goalposts. And with a very specific outline of your one-year, three-year, five-year and 10-year vision, you can start to create a plan and structure for your business that will get you to each benchmark. The truth is, if you just go on about your daily activities and hope you’ll one day end up where you want to be, changes are, it won’t happen. Instead, plan out where you want to be and use a vision to guide you.

Source: Rich Allen helps create businesses with solid foundations, unique marketplace positions, reputable processes, high-performance team and a visionary leader. Prior to becoming an advisor, he was vice president of human resources for Texas Instruments, then division president/COO with Pella Corporation. His new book is The Ultimate Business Tune Up: A Simple Yet Powerful Business Model That Will Transform the Lives of Small Business Owners.