Our SEJ Summit Chicago event was held on April 15th, and we were happy to have Dana Todd, of Dana Todd Consulting, presenting. She spoke about “The Future of Today” when it comes to combining your digital strategy and futurist technology.
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Without further adieu, here’s my interview with Dana.
1. One of the things I like best about our industry is that it is always changing. What is the one thing all brands should do to prepare for changes in digital marketing, even when we don’t know what those changes will be?
My presentation at the Summit was about precisely this topic. The three biggest changes coming down the pipe are connected autos, wearables, and “Internet of things” – all of which are somewhat related but differ in terms of how marketers should respond. However, there are some foundational elements that I see marketers ignoring year after year and it’s finally going to catch up to them.
For one thing, I still see brands that under-invest in SEO as an ongoing priority. They don’t seem to realize the fundamentals of SEO are also the fundamentals of having all your content set up in a way that is easily consumed not just by Google but also by GPS systems (location-based apps and car GPS) and non-text search (connected cars can be navigated by voice, smart devices make sense of surroundings).
Secondarily, brands can’t put off investing in a data strategy and means of putting data to work in connecting better to customers not just from an advertising perspective, but in terms of truly connecting in a two-way dialogue.
2. Like you, I also have a background in journalism, how do you find that informs your work as a marketer?
Being a journalist means you’re curious, and also that you dig into the facts until you have a pretty good sense of what’s going on. Being a data-driven marketer is the same, really. I also think journalistic training is great for being able to keep yourself at a high level of strategic thinking, with capacity to deep-dive on things to get up to speed quickly. It’s enabled me to stay current with digital changes since 1996!
3. Your SEJ Summit speech focused on the future, so speaking of journalism, I am curious: What is the top marketing trend you expect to emerge in the next 12 months?
As I mentioned earlier, there are three big ones: wearables, connected autos, and IOT. The two that are closest in terms of timing and opportunity are wearables and autos, but both aren’t necessarily the best match for all brands.
If you’re a brick and mortar business, the connected auto is truly going to be huge, but even national brands and CPG brand can participate here in a meaningful way. I think wearables aren’t going to be as big for all brands, or all people.
More Americans will be buying connected cars, as the pent-up demand for auto purchases during the recession starts to hit at the same time. It’s not an “if”－it’s a “when”.
4. You have been in the online marketing field for many years. What changes in our industry excited (or surprised, intrigued) you the most?
I was privileged to see so many bleeding-edge technologies and inventions coming about in the early days of the internet, it was almost like overload because something new was coming each day. “Shockwave” begat Flash; Cybercash micropayments begat PayPal; “push” technology begat behavioral targeting. The founding work for some of today’s sexy tech such as programmatic and personalized ads were actually developed in the 90s – they just didn’t have enough data and participating publishers to make it work that well until recently.
To be honest, it got a bit stagnant in the past decade as the economy impacted our ability to innovate and commercialize inventions. It was only in the past year that I’ve gotten excited again, about the tiny little connective tissues forming in IOT and connected autos. I think we’re opening up a whole new box of toys!
5. What is one of the biggest mistakes you see struggling businesses make?
Trying to be all things to all people, and lack of focus. Even experienced marketers get attention deficit, or invest randomly and then wonder why things fail. They under-invest in solid branding, great creative, and strategic thinking, and they over-invest in random channels without consistency or patience. Social media and all the various channels leads to fragmented budgets and thinking.
Focus, keep steady in your messaging and work in just a few main channels (and don’t pick the easy or shiny channels, pick the ones that are actually where your audience is). And, don’t discount non-digital marketing. We’re all still human, and we’re all still influenced by mass and direct marketing.
Thanks for the insight into how futurism can influence our marketing, Dana!
Don’t forget, you can request your free ticket for our London event, happening on May 12th at The Ham Yard. You can also come see us in Silicon Valley, NYC, and Atlanta later this year.
Featured Image: Sergey Nivens via Shutterstock