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The Herman Trend Alert: Marketing’s Horizon

When companies make a brand promise, their customers are going to want to see proof. No longer will marketers be able to get away with delivering generic brand promises. Author Kate Colbert advises them to make brand promises “as specific and meaningful as possible.”

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Herman Trend Alerts are written by Joyce Gioia, a strategic business futurist, Certified Management Consultant, author, and professional speaker. Archived editions are posted at http://www.hermangroup.com/archive.html

Recently, we enjoyed spending time with Kate Colbert, the brilliant young author of the new book “Think Like a Marketer: How a Shift in Mindset can change Everything for your Business.” Each of the chapters in the book ends with a “prediction for the future.” This Herman Trend Alert will highlight a handful of those forecasts and her wisdom.

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Consumers will require proof of companies’ brand promises

When companies make a brand promise, their customers are going to want to see proof. No longer will marketers be able to get away with delivering generic brand promises. Colbert advises them to make brand promises “as specific and meaningful as possible.” She also predicts that “brand stories will get shorter and more poignant, and will be told with more images, sound, motion, and fewer words.”

Smart Monetization

How many times do we feel “nickel and dimed” by travel companies with fees and little charges that seem to add up fast? In the future wise business leaders will be more “strategic and subtle” about how and when to charge, so their customers never feel “up-sold” or over-charged. In fact, our subscriptions may be paid by companies perhaps similar to the business model for trade magazines. Expect marketers to get more creative in their business models possibly offering “tiered and customized products and services with a full range of price points.”

Try it; you may like it

The Law of Reciprocity is alive and well. Smart business leaders know that sampling works. Savvy business leaders and marketers will constantly reinvent the concept of sampling. Colbert predicts creative new couponing ideas will leverage social connections (one sample for you, one for you to share with a friend). Most of us have enjoyed BOGO (Buy-One-Get-One-Free) opportunities; Colbert sees that application for business authors and other different types of marketers. She also talks about the ability to “test drive” heavy equipment at the Caterpillar dirt playground.

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We also are seeing the importance of the test drive in online education. Every major distance learning program offers these sample mini courses to give learners an opportunity to experience their “product” before they commit to taking online classes. Says Colbert, “Nobody buys sight unseen anymore; nobody trusts marketers.” The beauty of this experience sampling is the ability of the customer to try the product before purchase.

The Marketing Funnel will persist

Finally, Colbert believes multiple tiered pricing is important to serving consumers. By having a reasonably priced entry-level product from which to upsell, marketers may engage customers at the lowest level, then later upgrade them to products with more benefits.

Marketing’s Innovative Future

We agree with Colbert that the most successful marketers are the ones who will be creative and innovative in activating new ideas and implementing new ways to add value for consumers.

To order Kate Colbert’s groundbreaking book, click here.

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