Key Marketing Trends for 2012: Part Two
Written by Robert Passikoff
Last month, in our July issue, we brought you the first six of Robert Passikoff’s 12 key marketing trends for 2012. Now, we present you with the final six. These trends will have direct consequences to the success or failure of your branding, engagement and marketing efforts this year.
7. Mobilized Money
Handheld technology and smarter-and-smarter smartphones will increase opportunity for more mobile monetary transactions. Brands that do not facilitate small screen transactions will find consumers hanging up on them. Watch for increased credit card and promotional outreach, especially if the brand can customize the small screen experience.
8. Real-Time Branding
As brands like Amazon and Zappos taught, and consumers learned—fragmented lifestyles and increased expectations could be better serviced by the near-instantaneous availability of products (and their return). Consumers will expect brands to respond with the click of a “Send” key, no matter in which category they compete.
9. Innovation is Sincerest Flattery
Given increased consumer expectations and decreased brand differentiation, brands will need to understand what really drives their categories and where to innovate against consumer pain points. Zappos sells shoes—but their brand equity lies primarily in the emotional driver of “service” and how they quickly they process both delivery and returns. Consumer irritation is erased by innovative, painless, free delivery.
Creative response to consumer expectation will become de rigueur for brand leaders. But the brand party many of us attended before the economy called the police has left a hangover that is not going away any time soon. Sure, Apple sells phones and mp3 players, but they leverage engagement and loyalty—not by delivering “communication” or “entertainment,” but by delivering products that are beautifully, creatively and organically designed. Look for a desire for the coolness of beauty—whether a graceful delivery system or a gorgeous product—to escalate.
Increased consumer desire for simplicity is a strong trend as complexity pushes on people. Look for smaller, higher-quality products and ease-of-service delivery methods. This will result in the convergence of complex services and products into simple, expectation-exceeding solutions, but only if brands know where to look in their own categories for the "wow" button to press.
12. You Need to Be Aware That Engagement is Not a Fad
Engagement is the way empowered consumers do business today, period. Marketers can and should plan with engagement methods like the right platform, program, message or experience, but out-dated awareness models will continue to be ineffective and there should be only one objective for these engagement methods: Brand Engagement.
Accommodating these trends will require a change in the ways companies measure, manage and market their brands. And, yes—change is often a scary proposition, but the key is focused changes, which are always easier to make when you have the consumer telling you exactly where to focus.
Dark Wolf: accelerating security for USAF
As a small company whose biggest customers are the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, Dark Wolf Solutions (Dark Wolf) is a triple-threat, specializing in Cybersecurity, Software and DevOps, and Management Solutions. Dark Wolf secures and tests cloud platforms, develops and deploys applications, and offers consultancy services performing system engineering, system integration, and mission support.
The break for Dark Wolf came when the Department of Defense decided to explore software factories. Rick Tossavainen, Dark Wolf’s CEO, thinks it was an inspired path for the DoD to take. “It was a really great decision,” he says, “Let’s pull our people together as part of this digital transformation and recreate what Silicon Valley startup firms typically have. Let’s get into commercial facilities where we have open windows and big whiteboards and just promote ideation and collaboration. And it creates this collaborative environment where people start creating things much more rapidly than before.”
It has been, Tossavainen says, “amazing to watch” and has energized the Federal Contracting Sector with an influx of new talent and improved working environments that foster creativity and innovative ways of approaching traditional problems.
“We originally started working with the US Air Force about three years ago. The problem was at the time you could develop all the software you wanted but you couldn’t get it into production – you had to go through the traditional assessment and authorization process. I talked to Lauren Knausenberger and she told me about Kessel Run and what eventually came out of this was the DoD’s first continuous ATO [Authority To Operate].”
The secret to Dark Wolf’s success – and its partnerships with USAF and Space Force – lies in a client-first attitude. “We’re not looking to maximise revenue,” Tossavainen explains. “We tell all of our employees, if you’re ever faced with an issue and you don’t know how to resolve it, and one solution is better for the customer and the second is better for Dark Wolf, you always do number one. We’ve just got to take care of our customers, and I look for other partners that want to do that. And let’s work together so that we can bring them the best answer we can.”
Rapid releases and constant evolution of software are common themes among USAF’s partners. Like many firms operating in the commercial and public sector spaces, Dark Wolf leads with a DevSecOps approach.
“Failure is tolerated,” says Tossavainen. “If it’s not going the right way in three months, let’s adjust. Let’s rapidly change course. And you can tell really quickly if something’s going to be successful or not, because they’re doing deployments multiple times a day – to the customer.”