Marketing Trends 2012

2012 has arrived and we are very excited! It is time to look at the challenges and opportunities ahead and start planning your marketing strategy for 2012, if you haven’t done so already.
Relationships are key

According to numerous marketing sources and we’d agree, the future of marketing lies in customer relationships. This is supported by the rise of social media, where consumers can engage with your brand at anytime. Gone are the days when companies could control external communications concerning their organisation. The power now resides with the consumer or client. Listening and responding to their needs is vital.

Traditional advertising is over

Your customer’s ability to identify whether what’s being promoted is something useful to them or just “advertising” has become infinitely more acute. According to Andrew Baird at Amazing Business, ignoring ads is at an all time high, so successful marketing relies on being shared online. Customers can then “like”, recommend and share their opinions through this medium.

Word of mouth marketing

Now more than ever, a consistent online presence is crucial to business success. Through conducting regular client surveys on behalf of our clients, TLC Business has persistently found that referrals, whether on or offline, are still a vital tool for sourcing a new service. The rise in social media activity has made it much easier for consumers to recommend or advise against a service and have their message shared far beyond their own social circles. This is further verified by the Buyersphere 2011 report on changing B2B buyer behavior, which identifies referrals as one of the most influential channels when appointing and sourcing a supplier.

Integrated on and offline

Alongside active consumer engagement, TLC Business emphasises the importance of  on and offline marketing convergence.  With all the noise about digital marketing, it is easy to forget that more traditional marketing methods can still be incredibly effective. Using both mediums together can result in greater returns on your marketing investment. Integral to successfully implementing this strategy is ensuring all your marketing efforts support each other, working in unison, rather than each independently in its own bubble. For successful integration, make sure online and offline business campaigns are consistent, coherent and in sync with each other.

QR codes

TLC Business’ Director, Josh Spencer, believes that 2012 will be the year QR codes finally realise their potential and become more widely used. For those that haven’t heard, QR is short for Quick Response. These barcodes are used to take a piece of information from an advertisement or product and transfer it to a mobile device. For small businesses, this code can be added to a wide variety of marketing material, including: stationery, adverts, promotional items, posters, stands etc. and direct users to a specific landing page. Using this tool means that information about your business can be accessed instantaneously and at any time. Crucially, it also gives businesses a fantastic way of measuring the effectiveness of a variety of marketing tools that previously would have proved difficult.

Don’t get lazy

Don’t rest on your laurels. What has worked in the past will not necessarily prove effective today. Make sure you adopt strategies that are up-to-date with today’s “switched on” consumers and exploit the latest improvements in marketing tools and technology. For businesses looking to grow their client base and improve customer relations, developing a well rounded and relevant marketing plan is essential. In today’s fast moving society, marketing strategies should be constantly evolving and changing; tools that were successful in 2011, may not be as effective in 2012.

Do your homework

The beginning of a new year also allows business owners the opportunity to diversify their marketing. Research shows that 57% of entrepreneurs interviewed said that marketing was their top priority this year. SMEs that want to continue to build their reputation in the marketplace in 2012 must be aware of consumer needs. Experimenting with different channels will enhance your opportunities, so what better time to try new approaches. Determine those channels that are most profitable and those that aren’t. The New Year marks a time for change, and small businesses are no exception. By refreshing your marketing strategy, you can breathe new life into your business and make 2012 a great your for your business.

We are looking forward to joining you on your journey!

Top Marketing Tips For January

  1. E-myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber. You may have heard us mention this great book in the past. E-Myth Revisited should be required reading for anyone thinking about starting a business or for those who have already taken that risky step.
  2. Having multiple social networking accounts online means having to individually update your profile picture on each network. Avatar Harmony helps you synchronise your profile pictures between Facebook and Twitter.
  3. Create your own QR code online. QR codes are a square matrix type barcode that hold encrypted information. They are widely used in marketing to provide an extremely easy way for end users to be directed to web content, initiate an SMS, and receive contact information as a Vcard and more.


A picture is worth a thousand words

Following on from our July marketing seminar, here is another top tip to more effective SME marketing. This month we highlight the growing trend in Quick Response (QR) codes.
Whilst the QR code debate rages on and we assess whether this is a passing fad or a marketing phenomenon, the last year has certainly proven that QR campaigns can work effectively for the larger brands. From Coca Cola to Tesco, more and more companies are adapting their marketing campaigns to take advantage of the latest technology and consumer engagement channels available.

So is it worthwhile for SMEs to jump on board the latest marketing bandwagon?

SMEs may feel that technology such as QR codes is best left to bigger firms, with more resources and a deeper understanding of how it works. However, with QR codes, this is simply not the case; they can benefit the marketing of organisations of all sizes.

A QR code is a marketing tool that can help drive consumers to specific content of your choosing, such as a landing pages on your website, contact details or competition entry forms.  QR codes are cheap and easy to generate online. All your prospect needs to access them is a smart phone. Studies from 2011 indicate that businesses were reluctant to introduce QR codes, with only 8% of businesses thinking that QR codes were worthwhile; however, in 2012 the numbers changed significantly, with 47% of businesses declaring that their brand would benefit from introducing QR codes into their marketing, due to the rise in smart phone adoption amongst consumers.

How can my business use QR codes?

QR codes are currently dominating the consumer market, from packaging, magazine adverts, bus stops and billboards, the list is endless.

Tesco in South Korea is a great example of a forward thinking QR campaigns. In order to help save time, Tesco found a clever way to bring the grocery store to the consumer. Tesco launched a QR code campaign that plastered enormous images of food items on to South Korean subway walls. These images came with a QR code and allowed consumers to scan individual food items to be loaded in their virtual shopping cart. Once they finished their checkout, their order was processed and delivered to the consumer’s doorstep.

If you were at the Olympics this year, you may have noticed that QR codes were sitting right at the centre of mobile engagement during the 2012 games, linking supporters to Olympic action, promotions, merchandise and information.

Before and throughout the Olympics, Southwest trains used QR codes to help their customers plan their journey in a timely fashion, so the passenger could avoid any confusion during the games.

QR codes are not just for the big players. QR campaigns can be used in various ways within an SME environment, from business cards and adverts to direct mail and merchandise.  QR codes are a cheap, effective addition to many marketing campaigns and can be used to increase the effectiveness and measurability of campaigns. Common ideas include:

“Scan this product to download a recipe straight to your phone”

“Scan to ‘Like’ us on Facebook and get 20% off this purchase!”

“Scan to enter our latest competition”

Like any marketing activity, it is essential to have a campaign strategy in place, offering something special or unique. You need to understand your target audience, have a clear objective in mind and most importantly, provide valuable information to encourage the user to interact with your brand.

Businesses should always measure the results from any marketing campaign, QR codes included.  Did your website receive more traffic? Did the campaign generate more sales, Twitter followers or ‘Likes’ on Facebook? Whilst trying out the latest marketing trend can be fun, ultimately the campaign needs to generate results for your business.

To create your free QR code today, click here.