Marketing Trends Every CMO Should Know

Insider tips on integrated marketing trends from The Halo Group’s chief of strategy

It’s no secret that marketing trends have drastically changed over the past few years. Technology fundamentally impacts how brands and their audiences communicate, not just online but across all channels. With the marketing landscape constantly evolving, it’s a challenge for marketing pros to keep up with the latest trends.

So what should every senior marketing executive and CMO be keeping an eye on over the next year? Mark Sutter, Chief Strategic Officer here at The Halo Group, gives you his insider tips on the latest marketing trends:


What are some things every senior marketing executive or CMO should be keeping an eye on over the next year?

Integration is rearing its ugly head again. After years of marketers bringing tactics in-house and fragmenting marketing tasks through multiple agencies, many CMOs will be trying to reel in all of their communication activities to get better control of their brand experience. With the increase in the ways your content is delivered, consumed, and most importantly, interacts across platforms and screens, understanding how all of your communications connect is critical to creating a coherent brand story for more a sophisticated consumer.


How does a brand stay credible with its consumers?

Utility. Consumers are busy. They have high expectations. Brands need to focus more on providing valuable content than communicating the “message” and disrupting lives. Whether you share their interests, support their goals, solve a problem, simplify decision-making or provide entertaining content to share, consumers expect some help getting through their crazy life. Make it your purpose to serve. And keep it fresh, unexpected, and personal.


How can agencies help marketers better demonstrate performance?

Working with marketers to establish a framework for meaningful metrics. CMOs are increasingly being saddled with more responsibilities and greater accountability. And c-suite expectations are growing. We spend a significant amount of time working with our clients to articulate goals, establish metrics and helping tie them to business performance. Aligning business metrics such as sales with external marketing activity like advertising across the customer journey is critical to demonstrating success in the boardroom, and securing budget in an increasingly competitive corporate financial environment. The only way to get more money is to prove that the money had moved cases.


What are some marketing technology trends you see for 2014?

Mobile will begin to bridge the digital and physical world. The biggest thing at CES this year was wearable technology, particularly fitness technology like Fitbit and Jawbone. The IDC predicts that by 2020 consumer data collected from wearables devices like Jawbone or Fitbit, will drive five percent of sales from the Global 1,000. Here at Halo we just introduced a Jawbone Fitness Challenge to our employees. The company offered staff a free Jawbone and is helping staff set and incent personal goals. Integrating mobile applications to improve our health is just another example of the fundamental shift in how personal technology will help brands connect with customers to help them achieve their goals. Mobile is marketing’s new weapon.


Which senior marketing executive or CMO do you admire most? Why?

There’s a lot of people doing really exciting things out there. I saw Beth Comstock, GE’s CMO speak at the ANA Masters of Marketing conference and was very impressed with the incredible impact she’s had on GE’s turnaround. Using grassroots events and digital owned moments (e.g., #6SecondScience, GE Garages) to create brand content for specific audiences like engineers, technologists and tinkerers, she has demonstrated not only an understanding of how to use social media, and particularly content marketing, as a core storytelling strategy but actually used it to help the company channel its business strategy. She noted that GE gets +30% better returns through content marketing strategies that get the right content to the right audiences. It is more challenging for mid-sized brands with more limited budgets to realize the same opportunities. My advice? Start small. Try it. Test it. Adapt it. Market it.


What are some top global marketing trends for 2014?

All companies are now global. But all marketing is local. With global digital assets all brands need to understand how to position their brands globally and bring local insights to make them relevant locally.


So, will 2014 be the year of the digital marketing strategy?

As marketers seek to find more powerful ways to engage more demanding consumers, content marketing, SEO, and social media will come together as a strategic toolkit with mobile at the center. Forbes estimates that by 2017, 87% of all connected device sales, which includes desktop PCs and laptops – will be made on smartphones and tablets. Search engines look to return only the most relevant content, social shares will increase search rankings. Understanding how your digital strategy can build relationships across content platforms and disciplines and drive sales will be important.


How do you stay fresh and on top of what’s new?

It’s a trade secret. Always push yourself out of your comfort zone. I try to visit, watch, listen to, read, surf, or generally interact with a “new” experience or idea every week to stir my creative soul. This keeps my perspective fresh and helps me keep a pulse and my mind open to new possibilities. Last week I started tracking myself with a wearable technology that monitors how many steps I take, hours I sleep and carbs I burn. This week I’m off to Rome for a global test run.


How do you look beyond your client’s competitors—and their customers—for inspiration and insights around what’s next?

I find innovation is rarely inspired by your own category. Like all insights seeing the human journey in a new light is critical to challenging your assumptions. Some categories are far and away more sophisticated and others are innovating in traditional connection points. 

Subscribe to our email newsletter for marketing insights and Halo news.