Looking ahead, we wanted to know which new technologies will have the biggest impact on marketers in 2012. So Associate Editor Judith Aquino polled some of our trusted sources for their favorite picks and came up with a short list in her cover story, "5 Hot Marketing Trends" (page 20). What's so exciting is that there's a lot of potential with these new tools, and we've only just begun using them.
According to the story, mobile marketing will move beyond simple check-in capabilities from companies such as Foursquare. One industry analyst expects retailers to take advantage of geolocation services and mobile marketing features to actively trigger marketing programs and offers in real time. An example of this would be sending offers to someone's mobile device while that person is at a nearby competitor.
Another analyst finds the next evolution of QR codes—branded dial codes—to be "even more interesting than standard QR codes." He gives an example of how the NFL is using branded dial codes, which are QR codes that can be accessed via a handheld keyboard for those who don't have a camera on their phone. While this approach isn't as sexy as some of the other new technologies—it's essentially retrofitting a new communication strategy for older devices—it enables marketers to reach a much wider audience.
You might already be familiar with some of the new communication channels your customers prefer to use. However, as a marketer, that's not enough. Marketers must also know how to effectively use those channels. According to one industry consultant in the cover story, "using new tools to push the same traditional marketing message is 'just a fast way to get people not to listen to you.'"
Additionally, while social media can inflict tremendous harm on a brand overnight (see the feature story "Don't Let a Crisis Destroy Your Image," CRM, November 2011), there are plenty of opportunities to leverage social media in a positive way. But to be successful, marketers must brush up on their viral or word-of-mouth marketing strategies. Old marketing strategies are no longer appropriate. (For that matter, neither is the old definition of CRM—see the column "Redefining CRM" on page 13.) When using these new tools to reach out to customers, marketers must have a new mindset and skill set to effectively influence them. For some great tips on how to turn today's highly connected and empowered consumers into brand advocates, see "Dominating Your Market by 'Easifying' the Customer Decision Cycle" (page 24), which is an excerpt from the book The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing, by George Silverman. This excerpt will help demystify viral marketing for your organization.
While planning for the year ahead, feel free to mark your calendar for the CRM Evolution conference (August 13–15, 2012) at the New York Marriott Marquis. It is a great venue to meet some of the most sought-after industry consultants, analysts, and vendors. If you have a great topic that you would like to present at the conference, you can pitch it here (http://bit.ly/ugUwkk). The deadline for entries is February 3, 2012. I hope to see you there, and I wish you much success in the coming year.