When asked to be part of this inaugural re-launch of the St. Meyer and Hubbard newsletter, I'll be honest, I was intimidated. During my tenure in bank marketing, I would read the newsletter religiously and its contents were always beneficial with at least some "nugget" of knowledge that could help me that day. So, I say that as a thank you to Jack Hubbard and the team at St. Meyer and Hubbard for all that they do.
The question that was posed to me for this article was "What will be the most important 15 words in 2015 in digital marketing?" 15 words. So, my thoughts were do I throw a bunch of buzz words in there?…Or, maybe write something shocking? And, the resounding answer to both of those is No. The 15 words here shouldn't come as a surprise if you've ever read anything St. Meyer and Hubbard has written, but it may be shocking in digital terms.
Brands will need to care more, provide value, and "sell" less to create customer value.
It is the traditional sales mentality, both on- and off-line, for us to want to throw products in our customers' faces because that's what they want. Banks are the worst at it, too.
As a recovering bank marketer, I've seen this mentality before. "We'll just promote the product and they'll come." Or, "We'll write an article on our website and everyone will read it. Or, "If we just post it on Facebook, I know we'll open 100/1,000/10,000 new accounts."
That used to work, but social media, mobile, and the web have all changed the way we all consume information. And, it has also changed how much information is presented to us every day.
During the past 3 months, I've seen a number of crazy statistics:
These stats are astounding. So, what will consumers pay attention to in 2015?
Here's what I see the new year bringing:
One definition of marketing is this: to create and deliver value to the consumer. And, it's not possible to do either if you don't care about your customer. Every product and service that your institution sells should solve a problem for a business or a consumer. That also goes for every Facebook post, tweet, LinkedIn share and video your brand posts.
In 2015, marketers will push more for understanding their consumers and showing they care rather than promoting first, asking questions later.
One of the big issues digital marketing continues to help us define is customer service. A short decade ago, we were talking about online chat. Now, it's more.
If our 2015 mantra is going to be about caring for the consumer, then responding to questions rather than ignoring them is going to be a big part of that.
Consider McDonald's. Their failure to respond to the thousands of online comments, posts and videos about their food has forced them into a place that no brand wants to be in. Their current campaign, "Our Food. Your Questions." is their response, but it should have been done a long time ago.
Don't fall into the McDonald's trap and ignore your brand's online naysayers. Do you have a bad review on Google Local or Yelp? Do you have "trolls" who drive you crazy on Facebook? Editorial strategies for how to deal with these sorts of issues will be a big deal in 2015.
One of the hot promotional topics in marketing is content marketing. And, at its face, it sounds really simple. Provide good information in an easy to access format and people will read/watch/tweet it. But, it's more than that. At its heart, content marketing is about caring about your consumer in context of where they are.
To show that you care about your customers, brands in 2015 must dedicate the resources to provide information in context. Serving as a "content" source in a digital marketing channel (video, social, blog, etc.) can be very powerful. But, all of that content has to meet the customer where they are.
For some time, big brands have developed fun ways to promote their products via social media. Even traditional financial industry companies like Farmers Insurance are using fun ways to interact with consumers through humor or creative advertising.
2015 will be the year that more of the smaller financial institutions stop fearing digital marketing and make it fun. From the many banks and credit unions that I've talked to over the past few years, many believe that they need to promote products and services in everything they do.
But, the bottom line is this, no one goes into a relationship saying "I make $XX,XXX per year and my family typically has pretty cute kids. Want to get married?" And, if they do, does that make you want to marry them? I wouldn't think so. The same idea goes for creating relationships with consumers in social media.
I challenge all of this newsletter's readership to look back at your marketing efforts over the past year, put yourself in the shoes of your target, and simply ask yourself, "Did this [insert campaign or social media post] provide value?"
2015 will be the year where caring matters, value matters, and consumers will take notice.
Nick Kastner serves as marketing manager and instructor of digital marketing for the Mike Cottrell College of Business at the University of North Georgia (UNG). Prior to joining UNG in 2013, he served as an account director at Red Clay Interactive, a leading web design and marketing company based just outside of Atlanta. He has worked with a number of high-profile clients and has substantial experience in the financial industry. His specialties include strategic marketing planning and implementation, digital marketing, marketing automation and CRM. He is a graduate of Piedmont College with both a bachelor's of arts in marketing and an MBA in Managerial Leadership and is an honors graduate of the ABA School of Bank Marketing and Management where he was awarded the coveted ABA James H. Donnelly Award of Excellence.