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Google “New Year’s resolutions.” Seriously, try it. Guess how many results turn up. Over 24 million. Nearing the conclusion of each year, we are all conditioned to think the same way – the New Year is upon us, and there is no better time to start making the resolutions that are going to change my life and change myself in the coming year. Hogwash.

Changing your life, and for the purposes of this blog – your marketing efforts, isn’t about making woolly, half-hearted decisions. That’s not what truly confident people, or marketers for that matter, do. Instead, make confident choices based on what really matters to you, and jump in with both feet.

The following 2017 marketing checklist is intended to empower you with ideas you can use to fully realize marketing’s potential to deepen customer connections, grow brand value, and fuel strategic growth. Not to be confused with expired gym memberships, “as seen on TV” product gimmicks, and wildly unsuccessful self-improvement rituals lying dead in your New Year’s resolutions graveyard. Let’s dive in and look at how you can meet the challenges marketers face today and rise to the occasion, providing experiences that exceed customer expectations.

The best place to start is by identifying your goals.

Think thoroughly about the big picture and what will drive results — where you are now, what’s happening around you, what you want to achieve, and how you could get there. Next, begin to prioritize your goals, focusing on those that will have the greatest impact. You might focus on tried-and-true practices while including one or two leading-edge tactics.

Experiment with new technology.

Forward-thinking brands are starting to incorporate virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) into their marketing planning. VR is being strategically used as a tactic to demonstrate product attributes (Samsung Gear VR), immerse users in branded entertainment experiences (Game of Thrones), and add a new, more immersive and exhilarating dimension to traditional print story-telling (The New York Times). It is estimated that revenue from sales of VR content and equipment will exceed $21.8 billion by 2020.

Invest in customer experience.

Leading marketers should pursue a holistic view of the customer journey that radically shifts the customer experience. Think about more sophisticated ways to use email and website personalization, and then imagine how extending this experience into the advertising and in-store worlds could result in much stronger experiences.

Build a stronger, more unified content strategy.

Despite more brands embracing content marketing in recent years, nearly half (47%) lack a defined content strategy. The top performing (5%) of all branded content grabs 90% of total consumer engagement online. With few pieces of content funneling the majority of audience engagement, it’s time to focus on quality, objectives, and measurable KPIs.

Become better storytellers.

Stories are up to 22x more memorable than facts or figures alone. Our brains are hardwired to respond to narratives built on authentic characters, tension, and emotion. Make sure your team can tell meaningful stories that are relevant to users on an individual level. Seek to inspire, educate, and entertain.

Understand Big Data using artificial intelligence.

With the digital world’s size doubling every two years (thank you Gordon Moore), more devices mean more data. As this data grows, brands need more power to sort through it, glean customer insights, and apply it to their marketing strategies. Banks, health care providers, retailers, tech startups, and many other industries are already using AI and cognitive computer solutions. In fact, cognitive computing marketing revenue is expected to reach $13.7 billion by 2020.

Shift from a mobile strategy to an engagement strategy.

Now that the first decade of the “modern mobile experience” is coming to a close, we need to acknowledge that mobile devices are simply an essential vehicle through which the customer experience takes place. Make it a priority to integrate your technologies, processes, and teams so the actions customers take on mobile are tied to your internal systems (CRM, marketing automation). The opposite is also true — your customers’ online and offline behavior need to inform your mobile campaigns.

2017 holds a lot of uncertainty for marketers – the climate has changed dramatically since the time you began reading this blog. Today’s consumers are in control. They expect brands to inform, entertain, and provide a platform for them. Not only that—they expect it when, where, and how they want it. The good news, though, is that technological innovations are opening up incredible new opportunities for marketers to evolve their strategies and employ smarter tactics to better connect with consumers.

Stay vigilant.

 



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