Companies face an interesting start to the 2009 calendar year. Many major organizations have recently elected to rescind or completely forgo forecasting their fourth-quarter 2008 and first and second quarters of 2009 due to highly uncertain conditions. Following are ten trends, observations and predictions for the coming year that all marketers should account for in their planning process to help navigate through the uncertain economic conditions.

Marketers apply lessons from the 2008 Presidential campaign. The millions of online-activated volunteers that supported the 2008 Presidential campaigns have come to expect a level of transparency, accessibility and community that most businesses have yet to attain. More marketers than ever will pursue digital and social media as a means to connect with customers.
Marketers will measure absolutely everything. A recent report on CNBC from a major marketer on their newfound need to “accurately measure the value of their sponsorship and advertising activities” highlights the “show me the money” approach that we should have had all along to our marketing spend. Return on Investment will be all that matters to marketers in 2009, and they’ll find more creative ways that ever to measure it.
Insurgent marketers will win big market share. Innovative underdog organizations thrive in economic downturns. In fact, some of the best companies of the last half-decade, like Google Netflix, Ryanair, and the University of Phoenix all surged following the dot-com bubble and the September 11 terrorist attacks. Marketers that take an insurgent or underdog position and innovate in 2009 will see strong growth during the recovery.
Customer data will be the most precious marketing resource.Rich customer data will allow marketers to learn, adapt and profit from their customer base in tough times. Successful marketers will develop an analysis competence and target customers with precise offers to sustain profitability.
Everyone becomes a marketer.Companies may struggle with how to control who says what to whom, but they will increasingly realize that the marketer muscle they need starts with their employees and loyal customers. Successful marketers will train everyone on the marketing tools they need to turn their front line into customer magnets.
Marketers focus on targeting. Marketing 101 teaches us that STP – segmenting, targeting and positioning are key to marketing success. In good times, marketers often broaden their segments and targets without rigorous discipline. Successful marketers in 2009 will dig deeper into their existing data to become more vertically focused and then target that type of customer horizontally across segments. Watch for the word “vertizontal” to appear.
Consumers expect feedback loops; companies respond. It’s been called “Feedback 3.0” by some of the trend watching think tanks. In 2009, consumers will get used to contributing their ideas for corporate improvement on sites like My Starbucks Idea ( and companies will seek to engage in those same conversations or risk alienating customers.
Mobile and location really begin to matter. The buzz on mobile phone marketing has been alive for some time, but with the iPhone and other smart phones that are GPS enabled and that support 3rd-party applications, be on the lookout for small business opportunities to add value with mobile applications and to benefit from the existing mobile apps. Update your particulars in places like Google Maps. Geo-locating mobile apps usually use free data sources like those to find your business.
Tactics will still lead before strategy.It sounds like blasphemy, but in a world where we’re inundated with so many ‘tactical’ options for taking our message to market, we’ll continue to see marketers infected with the ‘bright shiny object syndrome’ (BSOS) which has them chasing after yet another new, unproven tactical approach in the absence of strategy. Look for 2010 to be the year that ‘strategy’ makes a comeback!
B2B Marketers will increasingly seek a ‘thought leadership’ based approach. With the threat of constant price promotion, successful marketers will try to change the game and shift to an industry thought leadership position based on competencies and being useful to customers, rather than compete only on the price game. Get your leadership on board, because this will take work to execute.
It seems that marketing always finds itself in challenging times. If it’s not the economy, it’s competition, growth, product launches or something else. The most successful marketers keep a constant eye on trends and keep their ear to the ground to learn what’s new and afoot in the marketplace.