Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future. The current world is not a place where you predict and undertake the works. Now everything is changing very quickly and fast. Specially predicting about consumers is a petty difficult task, and involves lot of uncertainties. For marketers there is a challenging year ahead and they have to adopt the following trends and challenges to overcome this.

1 – Value is the king.

Still the globe is suffering with recession. Since the customers are more prices sensitive these days they will look only for value more than the brand even before. So marketers should think about delivering maximum value to the customers.

2- Brand differentiation is the key

Now customers are overloaded with many choices. Products, services, communication are confusing the customers with overloaded information. The great success depends for marketers on how they are going to differentiate their brand with competitors. Value additions, excellent service quality and features are going to be the key factors to retain customers.

3- Growing customer expectations

These days’ brands are barely keeping up with customer expectations. Every day customers come across new innovations and look for more from their favorite brands. Smart marketers need to identify all the expectation of their customers and capitalize on the unmet needs. The brands which identify the unmet needs of the customers are going to be the survivors in the hard economic time.

4- Old tricks don’t work/won’t work anymore.They’re talking to each other before talking to the brand

Just sending them with attractive promotional messages, e-mails, newsletters are not going to work well when compared to past gone days. Rather than getting attracted to firm communication people are going to believe their peer groups. They first communicate with their peer group and then with the brand. So social networking is going to be a key marketing tactics to be used or to be considered by marketers.

5 – Market space goes more online

The online market place tends to grow than before. People find better deals online. It’s time for organizations to think about proper online marketing strategies. What are the important stuffs a firm needs to consider in the online market place?

– Facebook will replace the personal e-mail – it has been now used widely and had become a verb as well. Like people say “I Googled” now they tend to say “I Facebooked”.
– Fewer registrations for web sites. Because of larger number of players in the competitive online market place, people find it difficult to remember their password and other information. So Facebook Connect and OpenID becoming popular where people use to register or signup for sites with one username and password.
– Disruption vs. Continuity – The social networking is continuing to grow faster and companies are investing and starting up online communities to build their business and market their product.
– PPC might phase-out and SEO will play a role. Because of recession, companies try to reduce spending on Google and concentrate their effort on search engine optimization. But still social network advertising might grow.
– Analytics is the best way to track your visitor behavior and site activities.

6 – Customer engagement will be the pin point
Continuous touch and engagement with the customers will be a step up the ladder. Just sticking in one sales point is no longer sustainable for a firm.

7 – Emergence of mobile commerce

Though the mobile penetration is increasing, but it has not yet delivered the promise. Only recently mobiles use has been extended to payment for goods and services. Now it’s time for markets to think about mobile marketing in the coming year.

So what are the challenges they face? Now marketers must balance and mange various pressures by increasing consumer engagement, value, differentiate, demonstrate performance, leverage all information and analysis and developing innovative and sustainable strategies. It seems still marketers are trying to adopt a long term sustainable model. Now apart from the above mentioned factors they face following challenges as well.

1- Marketers are less confident about the future.
2- Many marketers are fighting the crisis with low budget
3- The crisis makes the marketers to rethink about the media budget

It is now clear marketers are restricted with financial position. Sustainably positioning marketing as key value adding department in the long term is going to be the major task for marketers. They have to

* Differentiate the strategies based on the green arguments which will only prove highly effective for firms those who adopted it in their corporate strategy, and business model and company culture.
* Convince top management about the marketing budget, because today the size of the marketing budget is the first one challenged by others.
* Marketers need to use performance management tools to track, manage and predict the financial return.
* Analytical skills have now become the paramount important to marketers. Making complex decisions are going to be based on generating relevant insights from the marketing data.