6. Expose yourself: Win the crowd with honesty
The emergence of several "tell all" consumer-created sites signals the arrival of a new era of honesty and transparency, especially for brands targeting those under 35. Sites like fmylife.com, textsfromlastnight.com, and MyParentsJoinedFacebook.com reflect a generation willing to bare and share all without the least trepidation.
Even the emergence of "Untag Mondays" speaks to the socially acceptable norm of posting embarrassing content that one might not want a parent or employer to see. Marketers that share this sense of honesty, that admit mistakes and address shortcomings in real-time, will find a youthful army of comrades willing to do their bidding. As Comcast discovered, this kind of honesty can even transform a PR nightmare like ComcastMustDie.com into an industry-leading customer service, like its Comcast Cares Twitter pages.
7. Hold the presses: Major comebacks are possible
Though a 50-percent decline in ad pages certifies 2009 as the worst year in print's history, don't write it off as a viable media channel just yet. More than 80 percent of U.S. consumers still subscribe to at least one magazine and 83 percent believe newspapers are still relevant, according to MediaPost.
Experimenting with video in print publications like Entertainment Weekly is but one of the ways certain magazine segments will hold onto their targets and satisfy advertisers. Fashion magazines and enthusiast publications continue to offer a visual showcase that is far superior to what most online magazines can serve up. Models, both human and auto, simply look prettier in print.
And while Procter & Gamble shut down its 72-year-old TV soap opera Guiding Light in 2009, it is cranking up the presses with a custom-published glossy, Rouge, that it expects to reach a whopping 11 million North American households in 2010.
8. Go to the video: Separate from the pack
The emergence of viral video rankings in 2009 reflected the mainstreaming of this approach to audience engagement.
While everyone and their branded brother aspired to cut through with a viral hit, surprisingly few found an audience. In 2010, marketers will undoubtedly crank out more of the same, while a savvy few will worry less about mass reach and focus more on grassroots appeal, providing content that their core targets really want. B2B marketers in particular will find that using informative videos that transform the complicated into the comprehensible, like Commoncraft's Plain English videos, will generate quality leads from grateful prospects.
9. Mobile media: Catching up at last
Despite all the hype by this author and others, less than a third of marketers had a budget for mobile in 2009. In 2010, smartphone penetration should rise to at least 25 percent (from 17 percent in Q2 '09), making it a lot easier to deliver a rich mobile experience worthy of consumer attention. The blending of mobile and social apps like Facebook, Loop'd, and Twitter has also created a new openness toward this medium.
Given the desirable demographics (18- to 34-year-olds with household incomes of more than $75,000) of smartphone owners, marketers should, at the very least, give strong consideration to creating a mobile friendly website, thus allowing prospects to engage whenever and wherever they happen to be.
10. Be positive: Attitude is everything
While honesty is a worthy friend to marketers, don't forget that almost no one wants to date a Debbie Downer. A recent Adweek/Harris poll found "relatively little enthusiasm and lots of indifference for ads that refer to the downturn." Even if the economy is slow to recover in 2010, find the silver lining for your customers and prospects with both words and actions. Like the athletes whose positive outlooks and superior skills propel them to victory, so too can marketers find success with an upbeat message and an unimpeachable value proposition.
Go for the gold in 2010
While 2009 hasn't been much fun for most marketers, there are many reasons to be optimistic about the approaching year. There are more ways than ever to engage with consumers and a new willingness from consumers to engage with brands. Marketers are showing a renewed desire to listen to their customers and offer "marketing as service" that favors the dissemination of meaningful value over disruptive messaging.
To borrow the words of the President after Chicago's disappointing Olympic bid this year, "Although I wish that we had come back with better news, I could not be prouder."
Drew Neisser is CEO and founder of Renegade.
On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.
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