On Those "What Will Next Year Bring in our Industry?" Posts

Have you joined my incredibly non-annoying, once-in-a-while email newsletter?

It’s December, which means that if you’ve made even one public statement this year that included the words “marketing,” “advertising,” “social media,” or any variation thereof, you’re currently in the process of wading through 400 emails from bloggers, reporters and analysts, all asking “So what do you see coming up as the big thing in 2013?

It’s the same email you got last year, word for word, they’ve just did a global replace for “2012” with “2013.”

So here’s what I’ve told them all, and I’m happy to share with you. It’s not long, it’s not huge, and it’s actually not even a prediction. It’s more of a hope:

In 2013, I hope for the following things to happen:

1) I hope this will be the year we finally stop using the term “social media” in a vacuum, like social media alone is going to save the world. It won’t. It still won’t. How the hell don’t we know this yet? We’ve had over six years to figure this out. Social is (to repeat this once again,) just another facet of marketing. Another arrow in the quiver of your overall marketing plan. If you go in expecting miracles from Social Media and it’s not part of a much bigger marketing, advertising, branding, and communications plan as a whole that in the end is designed to generate revenue, you’re going to fail.

2) I hope this will be the year we finally stop calling every new thing “the next big thing.” Let’s be honest: Facebook was “the next big thing” three years ago, and I don’t think they’re even close to reaching their full potential. I believe that if management there plays their cards right, they can virtually OWN mobile advertising. It’s a big “if,” but a decent amount of the signs currently point to “yes.” Of course, that just as easily might not happen, but at least Facebook has the power to attempt to be the “next big thing.” The majority of “next big things” don’t have the chops to back it up. The next big thing happens when it happens. It can’t just be summoned by saying it, like Beetlejuice. Stop trying to force that label onto every start-up with a finished iPhone app and a half-done Android app. It hurts the industry.

3) I hope 2013 will finally be the year we’re able to convince every company and client with a web presence that if they don’t spend the year perfecting their MOBILE web presence, they’ll lose over half their customers by 2014.

4) I hope 2013 will be the year where we finally understand that email SPAM isn’t OK under any circumstance, and we shouldn’t even THINK about mobile SPAM. May 2013 be the year of the true opt-in across all delivery platforms, where we finally see that, in this one specific case, asking for permission first IS better than doing it and apologizing later.

5) I hope 2013 will finally be the year that we put our collective brainpower together and come up a better digital video advertising format than the 30-second pre-roll. We know it’s annoying, we hate it ourselves, yet we continue to prevent millions of pieces of content from being seen on a daily basis, because consumers close the window five seconds into the ad, 25 seconds before the content has even loaded.

6) As a continuation of #5, may 2013 be the year that our industry truly understands that the consumer attention span drops by an order of magnitude each year. If businesses don’t start marketing to the premise of “super-short attention span theater,” and use the occasional longer content sparingly and when it truly works, (i.e., Red Bull’s “Stratos”, which was as much a commercial as it was a scientific breakthrough, AND a multiple world record setting event,) they’ll fail with video. Ask for more attention only when you truly have something to blow people away, and let the rest be a few awesome seconds of diversion. (And God help me if this video link below of the Stratos project contains a 30-second pre-roll…)

7) I hope 2013 is the year that marketers finally realize that it’s not about asking customers to share how great you are with their networks, but rather, creating amazing experiences for each customer so they’ll want to promote the business on their own. May 2013 be the year all of us finally get that in the end, customers love only two things: Gloating when a company goes out of their way to do something beyond typical for them, and complaining when they’re treated like crap. Treat your customers simply one level above crap in 2013, and they’ll do all your PR for you in 2014 and beyond.

8) Finally, I ask this yet again, for the fifth year in a row: May this be the year that companies, brands, agencies, consultants, communicators, authors, journalists, content creators, designers, programmers, and everyone else involved in marketing, communications, and customer service actually spend as much, if not more time listening to their audience, than they do talking at them. If I hope for nothing else from this list, it’s that.

Did I miss any? Let me know below.

Happy last month of 2012, my friends.

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