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Welcoming a New Decade Where Marketers Control the Message

As 2009 gives way to a new year, many organizations are jump starting their plans to hit the ground running in the first year of the new decade. While traditional marketing vehicles still remain critical for promoting a company’s products and services, this past year saw the rise of Web 2.0 technologies, and the explosion of social communities like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. In 2010, as companies small and large extended their global reach and strive for competitive success, they’ll need to continue embracing social media and new tools for communicating with prospects, suspects, customers, analysts and influencers. To reach a widespread and diverse audience, creative social marketing will prevail! To sharpen your marketing focus, capture mind share and generate leads, here’s what you need to know for the upcoming year:

No one can afford to be "dabbling" in social media anymore. Whether it’s Twitter, LinkedIn or Ning, everyone needs to have social media as part of the marketing mix. Move it out of the "experimental" column and into the regular marketing mix and start demanding metrics and ROI.

Process will take center stage. More channels, greater precision in messaging and a more open approach to customer and stakeholder conversations all mean more work – and more opportunities. While creativity still matters in marketing, good old fashioned project and process management -- the ability to respond consistently and appropriately to a wide range of situations and opportunities -- is at the core of program management today.

Brand ownership matters more than ever. There's a pervasive thought attendant to the growth of social media in marketing: Customers "control" your brand, and your role is simply to follow their lead. This isn't just wrong; it's a quick way to destroy years or even decades of brand value. Companies need to be proactive in communicating their key messages and look for ways to preserve their core brand identity and values while expanding and adapting to fit new opportunities. Henry Ford had it right when he purportedly said: "If we asked customers what they wanted, they would have said faster horses."

Global marketing gets granular. Social media and word-of-mouth marketing has put global-reach messaging in the power of the small to medium enterprise market. Embracing these platforms can help organizations reach a number of influencers and buyers across borders. Although communication consistency is a key, organizations need to be sensitive to different cultural nuances in how their messages are perceived, particularly as they communicate across social media channels.

Smarter decisions will be supported by analytics. Marketing efforts need to be measurable, innovative and sustainable. Understand what you want to track – number of followers, a specific campaign or Web site traffic – and add more tools to your inventory to track social media metrics.

The first decade of the century saw economic recession, accelerated corporate global expansion, the rise of smart communications from GPS technology to texting and social networking and a sea change in how we work as more people work remotely. There’s no doubt the next decade will bring rise to faster communication with more applications driving new relationships and more opportunities to connect.

As we say goodbye to 2009 and welcome 2010, marketers are fully empowered to control the message as social media changes the game from raising brand awareness to empowering organizations to communicate directly with customers to drive sales acceleration. At The Devon Group, we’ve incorporated social media into our marketing strategy since its inception and keep our fingers on the pulse of new trends to help our clients create, collaborate and communicate. If you’re interested in supporting your 2010 plans with marketing best practices that get results, contact me.

To our blog followers, we wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. See you in 2010.