Millennial business leaders in small to medium sized businesses are redefining the advertising industry with a streamlined digital-first paradigm for marketing, while crises loom in the halls of Madison Avenue and the marketing trade at large. Traditional marketing leadership teams, infrastructures, budgets and “best practices” are still anchored in a non-digital history where marketers control a singular message through top-down broadcast advertising.
The industry is acutely aware of the disruption that a digital first world presents but they are struggling to adjust in the face of the paralyzing innovator’s dilemma and rapid market change. Legacy value chains, massive budgets, and jobs at stake. But turning a blind eye doesn’t make the dilemma go away, it just delays the pain.Millennials are 84% more likely to use social media than invest in print advertising Click To Tweet
In order to better understand small and medium sized businesses’ (SMBs) current marketing strategies, We surveyed 500 U.S. based small and medium sized businesses about their digital, mobile, and video marketing strategies and tactics. We hope that these insights spark a dialogue and help create a road-tested guide for the mass crossing of the digital divide and the future of marketing as a whole. Below are of our key findings:
1. DIGITAL FIRST STRATEGY AND SHARE OF MARKETING SPEND
Millennials at small and medium sized businesses begin (and often end) with digital strategy and expand from there, businesses of every size must do the same. Video marketing should be the most important part of the marketing strategy.
Takeaway: In order to successfully cross the digital divide, businesses of any size need to put digital and mobile media at the core of their strategy rather than treating it as an extension. Small and medium sized businesses led by millennials do just that and are finding scalable and sustainable ways to deploy growing digital media and video marketing budgets.
2. INTEGRATING THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY: FROM BRAND AWARENESS TO PURCHASE
Business leaders need to embrace the fact that social media is no longer an extension of the traditional marketing strategy, but instead has become the substrate from which all marketing strategies should be conceived of and disseminated.
Legacy business of all sizes frame the marketing discipline through a dated lens. Often there are inefficient departmental silos and budgets across the marketing function that artificially separate one interconnected discipline. By contrast, millennials at small and medium sized businesses look at the entire customer journey through a unified lens or one integrated discipline, turning a system of fragmented consumer touch points into a holistic map. Unlike more traditional predecessors, millennials drive the entire marketing funnel from awareness, lead generation, revenue, creation and engagement via digital channels, with a focus on social media. It’s not surprising that ALL small and medium sized businesses rely on social to drive both brand awareness & revenue.
Takeaway: We are at an inflection point where digital marketing is not just A channel, but it’s THE channel, led by social media and social video. According to eMarketer, 2016 will be the first year in history that digital media ad spending surpasses television ad spending. Beyond ad spending, digital marketing and social media have gone from an extension of traditional marketing strategy to the underpinning of all marketing efforts including, earned, owned and paid media. This transition is being led by millennials who instinctively start with digital and social video. In order to efficiently and effectively unlock massive legacy budgets, larger and older companies need to do the same.
3. FAILING FAST IS THE CODE FOR SUCCESS
Brand building needs to be treated as a horizontally integrated marketing discipline and part of the customer journey. Marketing strategy and execution has to be fluid to allow for conversation, customer preference, and ROI performance.
Best in class legacy marketing calls for a well defined and creatively expressed, but rigid brand system and an annual marketing plan that is equally as rigid. In contrast to long-winded planning and creative cycles and monolithic ad campaigns, millennials are agile. They have adopted Silicon Valley’s “failing fast” mantra as the core to doing business and the best way to build products, brands, and marketing campaigns. For example, millennials are far more likely to test different versions of their digital advertising as part of their social and video marketing strategy.
TAKEAWAY: In a highly fragmented and level playing field, brand building is more important than ever, but it can’t be treated as an annual process with a pillar of one-way messaging. It needs to be an integrated and fluid part of all marketing disciplines. Whether you are brand building, performance marketing or providing thought leadership through content creation the customer journey is decidedly a digital and mobile one. Digital creative design should be guided by brand positioning and guidelines, but treated as a two-way conversation informed by testing for customer preference, performance and ROI.
4. THE VIDEO MARKETING REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED
Video marketing sits between TV and digital performance marketing. Millennials understand the power of this new hybrid media and unlike their predecessors who are hobbled by the perception of cost, their concern is with time – millennials want to be able to create variations quickly, in order to communicate effectively and efficiently with multiple audiences and segments.
Within digital marketing trends, the conversation around video marketing is particularly hot. There are massive offline marketing budgets that now need a place to go as the next generation of consumers cut the TV cord and disappear into the melee of digital media. The challenge is that consumer adoption of social video across formats has exploded in terms of form, function and scale, but the marketing industry at large has not caught up. Millennials however, live in a world in which they expect social video to come in many shapes and sizes, across platforms and formats. A culture where social video is a form of social conversation and not just a broadcast medium and where personalization, creative iteration and ROI rule the day. For millennials, video marketing is a hybrid medium that sits somewhere between TV and display advertising, combining the flexibility and efficiency of performance marketing with the culture of social video.
Takeaway: Millennials and digitally native small and medium sized businesses understand that video marketing is a resegmentation of traditional channels, which combines properties of social culture, TV advertising, and digital performance marketing. They understand the power of video marketing through the use of story and the efficiency of performance marketing. There are new rules of engagement that marketers can not afford to ignore. Those who do so are missing out on the biggest marketing innovation since the invention of the internet and the television combined.
Millennials inherently understand the changes afoot in marketing. As such, small and medium sized businesses led by millennials, are defining a new world order that is digitally native, social-first and driven by social video. They see a clearly defined and unified customer journey across a highly fragmented landscape and build marketing teams and strategy aligned with the customer experience. Millennials understand that growing both a brand and a business requires them to invite the consumer into the process, engaging in conversations that are driven via social video and measured digital media. Businesses of all sizes look to the digitally native millennial marketer for a roadmap to unlock billions in legacy marketing budgets that were historically allocated to print and TV.
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