Even ten years ago, no one could have predicted the speed and clutter of communications businesses face every day. As a result, every day it gets more and more difficult to get your marketing message out--let alone to the people you need to reach.
As the environment has changed, tactics have too. And if your business hasn't adapted, or is not prepared to, you're going to be left behind as your competitors (or others) do.
According to CEO of the predictive platform SimpleRelevance Erik Severinghaus, many companies fail to optimize messages in pivotal ways that would help them reach customers.
"Customers are inundated with messages through various channels, making it essential for a company to use its data to strategically reach out to customers if they want any chance of breaking through the noise of digital marketing," says Severinghaus. "Learn what your customers want, offer relevant content, and your marketing efforts will sharply increase in value."
But with all the options on the table today--paid media, social media, paid search, SEO, thought leadership, event marketing, cause marketing (to name just a few off the top of my head)--which are the winners? Or, even more importantly, what communications tools will be essential to breaking through in 2015?
Here are my top four predictions:
SEO--It may be too easy to start with the no-brainer answer. Search has been the non-optional tool for smart businesses for years now. But it's only going to get more and more important. Those businesses which can squeeze even the smallest advantage in search engine optimization will find a big return in their ability to find customers. Or, have customers find them. Either way.
As search engines become more complex and harder to game, the value of SEO experts will increase. But the question going forward may not be "Can I afford to engage an SEO expert?" to "Can I afford not to?"
Credibility--The explosion of communications has, naturally, exploded the number of places for businesses to communication. But they are not all equal. Getting your brand and businesses in 100 blogs which no one reads aren't worth nearly one mention in an outlet like the Wall St. Journal.
The company which can get their message in--or get covered by--major outlets which are known in business rooms will stay ahead of the pack. Take a quick scan of start-up websites and see how many list major media coverage prominently.
Getting coverage in major media outlets is a key strategy in any successful launch according to Emily Collins, CEO of Seedkicks, a crowdfunding platform for startups.
"We encourage clients to build relationships with relevant press, and then pitch an interesting story. Often times people don't do their research and reach out to press blindly. It may seem obvious but don't reach out to a food blogger when you are a tech startup."
Like SEO, cracking this nut may be enhanced by bringing in experts such as affordable public relations and media firms who keep relations with key reporters and can leverage those to help.
Content--Is content still king? Maybe. But even if it's not, content is still at least a member of the royal court of communications. To break through, your business will need to produce great quality content. Whether you put great content on your business site, a personal outlet such as LinkedIn, or a larger platform, doing at least one of those will continue to be important.
You can, like SEO and credibility, leverage resources to develop great content for your business. Or have a member of your leadership team do it. But however you produce it--make sure it's content that delivers real reader value.
"With specific and company focused content, your company can share its expert advice with targeted prospects and clients meeting their specific needs", says Elizabeth Dodson, Co-founder and CCO of HomeZada. "Leveraging resources both internal within your company and external to your company to help build this content will provide valuable data to help your audience educate themselves thereby creating more credibility for your brand."
Personal branding--We've all heard how entrepreneurs are rock stars. What individual business leaders do--at least in the business space--makes news. As that reality continues, building and keeping a personal brand, in addition to a business one, is important too.
"Taking advantage of the personal branding powerhouse called YouTube is a no-brainer decision for small business owners all across the globe due to the intrinsic power that videos have to engage and establish rapport with target audiences" says online video guru and founder of 'TotalVideoMastery' Brian Magnosi.
People and places change all the time and it's impossible to know what you'll be working on next year--or a decade from now. Therefore, make sure people like reporters, investors and other business leaders know you.
It's not inconsistent to have your business media team promote business leaders. Since people are covered on their own--in this case, press is press. And a good personal brand can elevate a business one. And vice versa. Going forward, the businesses which get this balance right will stay a step ahead.