At this time of year there are many articles of predictions, so I thought why be any different?
1. The need for boards to be digital
Social media has changed the world, it's changed society and it's changed the way we do business.
Boards need to start asking questions about digital, such as:-
1. How much revenue do we make from our efforts on social media?
2. Who are out top 10 revenue earners from social media in the business?
3. Why is social media still reporting into marketing when it is a boardroom issue?
4. Where is the social media strategy created by and sanction by the Board?
5. How much budget is allocated to making sure our team(s) have social media skills?
2. RevOps will grow in dominance
The pandemic has shown that we have to find every deal we can win and then win every deal we find. We have to be out there in the world of digital and working together as a team.
Revenue Operations (RevOps), which is you didn't know is putting all revenue generating departments under one strategy and leadership. Marketing, business development, lead generation, SDRs, BDRs, AEs, sales people, account managers, renewals, customer success, etc.
Ford have a production line, everybody has a role and responsibility, somebody fitted the engine and somebody else fitted the gearbox, everybody worked in their own silo, and a car came out the end.
Where as in formula one (F1), the people, and they all work in a team. They all work for the good of the team with their own roles and responsibilities, but they all work in synch. No silos, it's about teamwork. Both have an outcome, but F1 is a high performance outcome, this is RevOps.
RevOps is interlinked with the board of a digital business and that boards insistence to inspect the revenue generation from process. From initial desire building to revenue and renewal. As sales isn't the end it is often the start, how can a business make sure everybody knows their part and is working for a single business strategy?
3. Marketing will become front and centre again
In the past, the place to work was the marketing department, it was cool and it was sexy. Over the last 10 years, marketing seems to have been demoted to the "colouring-in department".
We have seem over the last 5 years a reduction in the output from the traditional marketing campaigns, such as events, advertising, cold calling and email marketing. Many businesses during the Covid19 pandemic have cut this budget as they just don't see the return.
Once there was a time if you spent $10,000 on advertising or an event, you know what return you would get, now nobody is sure and in fact, nobody is sure you actually get a return.
Marketing, need to embrace digital, and I don't mean digital marketing as in sending out emails.
Marketing needs to embrace the power that social media provides to them. This means that marketing need to change the way they work, but by changing the way they work, they can become the business darlings again. How to do this, let's move to the next prediction.
4. Brands are commodities
We have seen how over the last few years, brands have become commodities, people don't listen to what a brand says and nobody believes it. Of course, you might have a "star" brand that you have an affinity with, but I'm talking about the vast majority of brands and companies. You have a guttering company in west London, what differentiates you? Sorry but nothing.
Your buyers and customers are interested in people and experiences.
Marketing need to understand that their role now is to build a digital bridge between the people in the company and their prospect and customers. They also need to be empowering people, it could be salespeople, or in a digital organisation, it could be empowering a wide variety of people, teams and disciplines to build those digital bridges.
Marketing need to be empowering people, from the day they join the company, activating new starters to be authentic and be able to build these digital bridges and have conversations on social.
Marketing, need to understand what needs to happen so the business is found, for example they will be responsible for the website, also the keywords they they want to be famous for. This will have a Google search engine optimization (SEO) objective as well as a search from a social media prospective. Now more people search on social than they do Google see article and research here.
With digital comes new measures, no longer do marketing need to chase (MQLs) marketing qualified leads, digital is "on" or "off". Marketing can now measure the lead generation flow.
From the number of connections people are making in a week, to the number of articles or posts they publish to the amount of engagement they get. Following on, the number of conversations a salesperson has can be measured and this can be tracked from desire building with a prospect to a closed deal.
Marketing can be measured from start to finish and they team need to rise up and grasp this.
This will put them front and centre with the chief financial officer (CFO) and the chief executive officer (CEO). By providing a new set of data, that can give the business visibility exactly how the company is trading, by leading the quarterly business review process (QBRs) this will place marketing back front and centre. This will make marketing the place to be and will make marketing sexy again.
5. Continual improvement - people and process
If we look at accountancy, you need to have a degree to be an accountant, you need to have past additional qualifications, then once you are qualified you have to keep up with regular training to keep that qualification.
With sales, anybody can walk into the business and be a salesperson and there is no requirement to get continued training. RevOps is the time that sales needs to come alongside other parts of the business and realise that continued learning is a benefit to the revenue part of the business.
At my last corporate role, we had 7 salespeople that always did 20% of their number and I did some analysis on what these a-players did versus the b-players and one of those things was all of the sales people that continued to over achieve always did a training course every quarter. All the b-players said they didn't have time.
In all high-performance companies, they all have the culture to continually improve as a business. How can we as a business improve our efficiency and effectiveness? How can we make sure that we are leading in our vertical and markets? Is there a way we can increase margins? Can we do more for less? Can we increase the customer experience by reducing our costs?
By asking these questions, this will means that boards will be driving to social media for sales. It stands to reason, you have to run a pilot.
6. The terminology of business will change
As digital and social media usage accelerates, some people says that social selling at some point will be called, selling. As that will be the way we sell.
These changes, means there will be a change in the lexicon of business, here are some terms that are becoming popular.
How the c-suite will be influencers - The first thing you think about when you hear the word "influencer" is the Kardashian family. If you think about what a business wants, they want their audience to know them for something. It could be technical expertise, it could be operational, it could be commercial, but you want to be known as experts and you wouldn't it great if your clients knew this too?
Most business are rubbish as social, sorry to say that, but it's true. That does mean that for your business there is an opportunity to take that digital space and be recognised by your clients, future clients, employees and future employees.
As we have talked about before, the modern buyer is not interested in brands, they want relationships with people. That means a company can activate it's employees to rise up and take control of the digital chat and digital share of voice.
Business leaders now need to want their people to be the lead digital influencer in your market or sector and getting the commercial credit for that. But why would I want to be an influencer? As a managing director or a CEO of a business, in a digital world not only do you have responsibility for driving the bottom line, you are also the CEO of a media company (see my next point) and you are the chief influencer of this
7. Every company is a media company
As a business, we need content, here is a great example, of a blog written by a CEO.
As I talked about in 3. above, marketing need to start the process of empowering their team(s) to create content on social media. Not just sales but across the whole of the business.
But it won't be on brand I hear you shout?
No it won't be a boring brochure that nobody reads. The responsibility of marketing is to provide guard rails.
I can show you many examples of people who are empowered on social, who create great engagement (and therefore business) to the business. What you read paints a wonderful picture of the business, it's culture and what a great company it is. That is on brand.
8. It's video Jim, but not as you know it
In every predictions article over the last few years, video has been raised as something that will take over the world. The trouble with these predictions is that the assumption is that "interruption" and "broadcast" is the way that video will be delivered.
Nobody wants to be interrupted. One of our clients, ran a campaign, not sponsored by us, I should say. They hired a video company, wrote a script and got the senior VP to make 100 videos, where he "introduced the company". Along the lines of "Hi, I'm Robert and I work for X company and we do this ..." All professionally made. And the result? Of the 100 that were sent 2 were opened. Apart from that nothing. Zilch.
Video works where you are giving the viewer, insight or educate them or even entertain them.
If you are looking for innovation in video then look no further than Eric Doyle's, "The Big Live Breakfast Burrito..!". This is a morning show, every, Thursday, at 07:45 to 09:00 AM UK time and it's like a "zoo radio" format. But the power is incredible. It provides the team with reach and visibility, it creates communities amongst the listeners, more importantly it generates leads, conversations and closed business. Eric calls it "networking for the 21st century"
9. Employees and salespeople will become influencers
People often talk about "influencer marketing" and the picture that is painted is one of a B2C influencer like Kim Kardashian or a B2B influencer like Brian Solis. In fact everybody has influence, anybody who has given advice about a car to buy or a film to watch at the cinema or a restaurant to go to, has influence.
Businesses are seeing this as a way to take a companies influence and share that into the companies they want to influence (sell to). We have always done this in sales, we used to collect business cards, but in the modern world of digital. We can, as salespeople influence the whole of our territory and influencers within our vertical or market. We've always done this, but digital allows us to do this at scale. We just need activation / permission from our business and for us to be trained in such a methodology.
10. Cookies will force us to think differently about advertising
Apple's iOS 14 update which is allowing people to decide if they are targeted by ads is shaking up the world of advertising. It comes as a shock to nobody, apart from people who work in advertising, that nobody likes being targeted by ads, and given a choice people always choose not to see advertising.
Brian said “We believe technology should protect users’ fundamental right to privacy, and that means giving users tools to understand which apps and websites may be sharing their data with other companies for advertising or advertising measurement purposes, as well as the tools to revoke permission for this tracking.”
Put it like that, it just proves that advertisers are using tracking data and as a brand we should not want to be part of that.
Add to that the impact of ad fraud and there is a heady mix of change. CMOs are using this as a springboard to stop the constant payment for adverts where the response is dodgey to say the least and shifting to using social media. If you want your mind blown about Ad Fraud check out Augustine Fou on Linkedin here.
11. You need to start thinking about Sustainability in your everyday work life
I'm writing this, while Cop26 is ongoing in Glasgow. I have also just read Michelle Cavill's new book "Sustainable Marketing - how to drive profits with purpose". It's clear to me that people are going to take "green" into account when they are selling or marketing. Green will also be a competitive advantage.
James Watt the CEO of Brewdog recently posted on LinkedIn how an agency had got a meeting with him.
"I always get bombarded with pitches. But this one from Norris Media is worth sharing because it is exceptional.
They sent me 23 grams of charcoal (which is almost 100% pure carbon) and this 23 grams represent the amount of carbon a Facebook advert generates for every 500 impressions it recieves.
What an incredibly thought provoking thing to send: absolutely everything we do has a carbon impact - even digital advertising.
Norris Media also mentioned that they are the first agency to measure and reduce the carbon impact of digital advertsing and we will of course be in touch about working together.
And bonus points for the handwritten letter too!"
Spelling mistakes are his own.
12. People still won't accept the Metaverse as a thing... yet
I recently had a keynote speaker slot at the B2B Marketing ABM conference, I like to spend the day at conferences when I speak as it's a great time to meet with people and discuss subjects. I asked the question of a number of people
"wouldn't be great if you could have a conversation on LinkedIn and then agree to have a virtual meeting? Not on Zoom but in a virtual office?" The answer to that was "yes".
I said, you do realise you will need to put some VR Goggles on. At that point, people responded that the answer was "no". There is going to need to be some VR killer App before people take it seriously.
In this article in Adweek it mentions that the wearables market will be worth $128 billion by 2028.
13. Marketers cannot be a TikTok denier any longer
TikTok has taken the world by storm, and surprised by many of us as there has been video sharing sites before that never took off. The problem that Brands (and often marketers) have with TikTok is that it places a disingenuous world of social media marketing, front and centre. Why?
You go to TikTok because you want to, no longer can marketers interrupt us with adverts.
TikTok videos are all about the people and not the brand, yes, there are some brands on there, but it's the exception not the rule.
Anybody can be a content creator, you don't have to be a creative in a design agency, marketing agency or a marketing department. It's punk.
When the punk music started, it was people with ideas and talent that became famous, you didn't need to study music for years.
14. Artificial Intelligence won't save us
There has been a lot of talk about Artificial intelligence and how it is going to save us, at the moment I have been underwhelmed with the responses. As I write this most AI developed and for sale is nothing more than automation, there is nothing wrong with getting a machine to do a job we find boring, but automation will only take you so far.
On Monday an Australian company asked me to submit a proposal to transform their salespeople and said could I supply some typical results from a customer that we could expect to make by using social selling. I supplied the results and he came back and said, what automation tool are you using. I pointed out we didn't use any form of automation, we have a methodology and if you follow that you will get this level of results. He still does not believe me.
The problem with automation on social media is this. Social media is based on repaposity. There are so many million people on LinkedIn, some of those are buyers and some of those are sellers. We turn up and play our roles, the sellers will try and sell and the buyers will be there to buy.
If I decide to not turn up and send a robot, then the buyer will do the same. At that point there is no repaposity and the whole thing falls down.
15. The future of Digital Marketing is a combination of digital AND human
“The future of Digital Marketing is a combination of digital AND human. Brands should be present everywhere and relevant while consumers are looking for information or interacting online (at their time, in the form they prefer) It's also about patience: it will take longer to build relationships. But we'll better understand customers and have better results over time.”
When people say things to you, so often you hear something else. That is why many jobs end in one of those situations were the employee says "but you promised if I did this, you would give me this pay rise or promotion". What the employee heard the employee say maybe two different things.
For example, a boss may say "if you work hard you will get a promotion", the difference being that that what the company owner means by working hard and what the employee means by working hard are two very different things.
The same goes for personalisation.
When we hear that word, we think of somebody treating me as an individual, but actually personalisation as treating me like I'm a group of 10, 100 or 100 people.
That's the difference between personalisation and being human. Personalisation could mean I am an email in a group of thousands, where as social media allows you to build a one-to-one relationship with a person. That's what it takes to be human today.