Marketing trends: What’s in this year

Cue the rush to grab the mic and share what is going to be cool in 2023. It gets a bit much; I know. But it’s great to start the year off by identifying what you want to aim for and what you’d dearly love to leave behind. This year, instead of following the marketing trends, I have gazed in the crystal ball and taken a punt.

This is what’s in for 2023 in relation to marketing trends 

Community Management

Now is the time for communities to come together, online and off. But I am not only talking about social media marketing. This is the time for the genuine community building activities.

a post-it note with what's hot written on it in front of a painting signifies australian marketing trendsWe’re facing an interesting year with community management and social media. People are over the platforms gaming the system and creating unsafe spaces. Plus, we’re all aware of the increasingly undeniable fade of Facebook and Elon Musk’s influence on Twitter. Add to that a change in how Australian influencers will work on a legal level, and it’s shaping up to be an interesting year indeed.

But if you think social media is dead, I have news for you. We deeply embedded social media in how we communicate with family, across the town, during a disaster, to support our creativity, as a discovery tool and in our marketing.

What will change is that we’ll go through a brief period of proliferation thanks to AI chat (featured below). But then it will reverse itself back with a “less is more” marketing trend.

Understanding the changing nature of social media means a greater focus on community management from a strategic, less commercial, less post-by-post approach.

I believe this is the year where communities will mature while social media that lacks depth will fade, especially in the business and marketing context. We’ll need to work harder to make a connection. But done well, the connections will promote more long-term loyalty.

The rise of the slow business movement

You cannot walk away from several years of natural disasters, Covid impacts, economic issues like contracting job markets and JobKeeper introducing people to concepts like UBI, and now inflation without recognising that something has to change on a business level.

The slow business movement is a solid contender in the race for the next business marketing trend.

Inflation will combine with the lessons we’re already learning from the so-called ‘great resignation’ and ‘quiet quitting’ to crystalise into what we already know; people want meaningful work and they care about where they spend their money. I don’t think we’re going to see the retraction of budgets and spending in the business world so much as a diversion of investment into worthwhile, intentional and foundation building activities. This will influence marketing trends because it will mean thoughtful advertising and marketing campaigns will win over large-scale visibility.

We’re back to word of mouth, street corner, considered marketing campaigns. And this is a positive development.

Inflation is forcing consumers to tighten their belts. After a brief panic bump, they will be more intentional in their spending. As a result, I believe businesses will need to consider their options and follow suit.

This is where the lessons of the slow food movement come in.

The slow food movement encourages us to grow our own food, look for heirloom seeds, take time to make passata for the cupboard, mend the cherished item, and think about waste of all kinds.

These are valuable principles for a family on a budget. They are also great when applied to business and marketing.

I believe the slow business movement will move from the fringe to the forefront by:

·        Creating a ‘less is more’ mentality with advertising spend and approaches to social media interactions

·        Consistency is key. Marketing needs to be reliable and solid. The benefits of the services and products we create have to speak for themselves without big claims and busy jazz hands. Focussing on longevity, relationship, customer service and belonging with a brand will be popular as a result

·        Looking at the long haul overstaying afloat. We’ve been through a big fight. Now is the time to stop putting one foot in front of the other and consider the big picture destination instead. And that means more strategy, longer cycles to pay offs, and more thoughtful approaches

·        Values shaping the culture. The whole ‘big resignation’ and ‘quiet quitting’ stuff isn’t happening in isolation. And it’s not about entitled people getting the taste for working from the couch. It’s about people realising that no amount of money, prestige or clicks creates a content, healthy and mentally healthy person. We want more than mindless jobs and production in our lives

·        A greater focus on work-life balance. Workplace flexibility, working from home, applying acumen and creativity to work are key to keeping talent

·        Best efforts over endless growth. We’ve seen with the large social media platforms and their massive layoffs that big is not beautiful. Just like the “get big fast” of the 90s start-up scene crashing, they’ve outgrown the “fail fast” mantra. Growth creates a set of problems and it’s ultimately an unsustainable measure of success. At some point, a business or market will contract. While we’re managing inflation, growth is rightly going to play second fiddle to the far more sustainable principles of consistency, consolidation and creating a sustainable business that’s here for longer.

Idea shipping

If you look at all the years post a pandemic, there are accompanying creative waves. Art, music, innovation and business all find new ways to get their foothold.

It’s as though the world ships ideas and treating it like an experiment. Lo-Fi experiments are in because we can learn around corners quickly with little buy in. Business is maturing past the trial-by-fire that is pandemic living, moving beyond the necessity of learning to pivot well and often towards using the skills gained to circle back and consolidate.

This will influence marketing trends in that we’ll see less big splashy campaigns and advertising, and much more testing.

Even in large-scale companies, I think we’ll see many low resource, high-impact campaigns and products. And I think the businesses will influence this desire to reduce the impact of inflation while still capturing the curiosity and creativity of the audience.

AI and AI ramifications

With ChatGPT and Dall-e-2 dominating the conversation about written and visual content, we cannot ignore the changes AI will bring.

The ethics, whether search engines support it, the quality, and all the rest will have an impact not unlike the introduction of eBidding sites back in the noughties.

Will they become the replacement for actual freelance creatives and agencies? No, not across the board.

But AI has the potential to:

·        Cannibalise the low investment, low cost, no relationship end of the market. AI will hurt eBidding before it hits other areas, basically

·        Have a brief flirtation with the middle market, creating some issues with clients understanding the value of creative investment

·        Introduce issues with plagiarism, difficulties related to original content, and cause issues for arenas like education, science, medicine and academia that rely on strict guidelines to function

·        Make it easier for government and NFP to recycle their own content and produce plain-speaking works without big budgets in-house to reduce headcount or the hours dedicated to rewrites, expansions and upgrades. Consultants will likely do less production and more oversight and editing as a result

·        Shake up complacent industries that are churning out people pleasing work without pushing the creative envelope

·        Open us up to the original intent of AI more – which was not to replace people or their original work but to get them away from laborious, repetitive and mind-numbing work

Like anything in life, AI is a tool. It’s how the human holding the tool uses it that counts. How I view AI is a potential tool for reducing legwork labour in favour of creating space for more creativity. And considering the definition of what someone can automate safely depends on the business, AI’s true impact will probably be on an individual and industry-by-industry basis.

Better feedback

Along with the slower, more thoughtful take on business, I believe we’re going to work out how to give better feedback. Businesses are woefully out of practice with giving feedback. Criticism is often lacking in anything constructive. It’s vague, filled with too much individual taste, reflects a slew of emotional (but business) related reactions, and yet it influences how we work.

That’s too much to risk on Robert and Robyn’s in-house beef and point-scoring mentality.

As we learn how to communicate thoughtfully with audiences, I believe internal staff, freelancers and our customers will want to have better conversations. Part of that will mean understanding the why behind what we market and communicate. As well as opening the door to maturing our relationship with feedback and criticism.

People are sick of the seagull manager who comes into poo all over ideas before flying off. Projects are too important to strangle with office politics and the cult of personality these days. As a result, people will start putting the project first over people-pleasing or machinations.

This is the time to address issues with feedback and develop a proper plan that includes:

·        Consolidating feedback and providing useful criticism. It’s a revival of checking the relevance, intent, and ability to service commentary against the needs of the project with the constraints available

·        Project managers taking a proactive role and even challenging the feedback and criticism in relation to its value to an idea or project

·        Understanding the difference between actionable feedback and mere opinions. And focussing on what changes the game over what is cute or nice to have

·        Building safety within the organisation so that project-orientated voices have equal (or greater) importance to hierarchy

·        Asking “is this necessary?” more often when providing commentary so that ideas, projects don’t get crushed by unnecessary ideas or a lack of timely progress.

More on marketing trends

I could talk about the marketing trends of 2023 all day (trust me, it’s been known to happen!). But the best way to figure out what is happening is to get in there and figure out what works best for you and your business.

Need help with that? Check out my January newsletter on identifying marketing trends within your workplace. And if you want to go further, get in touch. I can help you with a strategy to see you move into 2023 with confidence.

Oh, and tune in for what’s out in 2023, too!

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

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