What Lies Ahead In 2016? Human-focused Marketing

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Volume PR’s founder, president and CEO, Elizabeth Edwards, was featured in The Review as one of experts sharing their predictions for the year ahead in PR, marketing, and advertising. Get in gear for 2016 so you can create incredible campaigns, and reach your audiences in great new ways.

What’s Ahead for Advertising in 2016

Like all other publications, The Review wanted to take a look ahead at 2016 to find what is expected in the advertising, marketing and PR industry in Colorado. To do this, we invited several industry executives to give us their thoughts plus gathered a few opinions on the national level.

Contributing to the look ahead are Rob Bean, Burns Marketing, Jeffery Julin, MGA Communications, Pasquale Marranzino, Karsh Hagan and Elizabeth Edwards, Volume Public Relations. Rob Bean offered to expand on the Burns Marketing thoughts and provided a more detailed look. Following are everyone’s contributions.

Elizabeth Edwards, Volume Public Relations

As the U.S. economic recovery has accelerated, Colorado has made a name for itself as a boom-state success story — earning national media attention, becoming a top place to live and work, and attracting new residents and visitors in droves. The resulting business optimism across the state is expected to continue in 2016, with employment growth of more than 65,000 jobs and population growth of nearly 100,000 people anticipated in the coming 12 months.

All of this positive momentum will only enhance the existing “can do” attitude of Colorado business leaders in 2016. A recent US Bank survey of Colorado businesses found that small business owners across the state are the most optimistic in the nation. This confidence and optimism will lead to increased hiring, capital spending and entrepreneurial opportunity, as well as an increased need for accurate business intelligence to manage all this growth – what may certainly become Colorado business’ greatest challenge.

What will not change in 2016 is the pace and volume of the information businesses must manage across all marketing channels, including paid, unpaid and owned media. Current trends (expected to continue) will find greater competition for content eyeballs and an evolving need to refine and pinpoint messages with laser accuracy. Smart business leaders in Colorado will move toward a more human focus with their PR and marketing initiatives (and really, across their business) – dialing in the conscious and unconscious motivations of their audience to capture attention and ultimately convert eyeballs into customers. Companies with the foresight, knowledge and capability to harness these insights will see the greatest opportunity throughout Colorado in 2016.

As president and founder of Volume Public Relations, Elizabeth Edwards leads the nations premier communications agency delivering marketing, PR and corporate communication programs rooted in the principles of cognitive science.

Creating “More Awareness, More Customers, and More Results” is Volume Public Relation’s mantra, and Elizabeth and her team achieve this by implementing PR campaigns developed with scientific precision rather than just a marketing expert’s conjecture.

Jeffery Julin, MGA Communications

The Need to Connect

The need for people and communities to connect in America has never been greater. American’s level of concern and fear seems to grow every day. This will affect every part of our lives – from shopping at the mall, taking the kids to school, if and where you go to church, how and where you travel and ultimately the strength of our economy if consumers start pulling back further on shopping in actual stores.

The communications professionals has a huge challenge, but a tremendous opportunity to create positive discourse, help people find a sense of comfort and safety, begin to rebuild trust in fellow Americans with a wide variety of backgrounds and face an uncertain world with courage and goodwill.

Whether it’s communication efforts for various levels of government, business or communities; communications professionals will need to understand and respect various perspectives in order to develop communications efforts that create respectful discourse and bring people with divergent views closer together. Our positive interactions as citizens, consumers, believers and even voters will only happen with thoughtful affective communications and interaction.

Communications professionals can help Americans go about their lives in a manner that keeps our economy strong and again builds a sense of oneness as Americans.

Jeffrey Julin, APR, Fellow PRSA, President. Jeff is a reasoned professional whose ultimate goal with each client is to understand their “pain points” and devise communications solutions that address them. Jeff has more than 33 years in research-based programs that have included strategic planning, messaging, community engagement, branding and positioning, media relations, crisis communication, advertising, and employee communications. His clients have included The Colorado Trust, Colorado Division of Insurance, Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council, Noble Energy, Colorado Education Association, Shell Oil Co., Vaisala, Pfizer and McKenna Long & Aldridge LLC.

Pasquale Marranzino, Co-CEO Karsh Hagan

The landscape in the advertising business continues to change.

The successful ad agency of the future will not be an ad agency at all, we will become marketing companies. In some ways we have to become tech companies and analytics companies. It’s all about technology now and how your specific communications fits into technology. We also will need to be “integrators” of communication. Clients want integration.

This means creating communications around brands that take into consideration the Internet, mobile, social media and traditional media in an integrated way. In today’s brave new media world it’s much more than the traditional television, radio, print, out-of-home vehicles. Content is king and content is related to all of the vehicles mentioned here and also includes the digital realm and social media.

At the end of the day, we are story-tellers, relating how these stories fit the brand and connecting the brand in an engaging fashion with the ultimate consumer.

The “advertising landscape” has become fractured with choices. How do reach a target who has control of what they watch (listen to, or read), when they want to watch and how they watch? In essence, you have to be willing to invest in many different channel vehicles based on data insights associated with a given target group.

Mobile now rules the day. There are more mobile devices than desk-top

computers. It’s about speed, brevity and connection points. In planning a campaign we used to start with the website. Now we start with mobile.

Whether you like it or not, your mobile device is telling people where you are. Your internet searches are telling people what you are doing and we can now formulate messaging more precisely that ever before. Big Data is quickly becoming insightful data and based on your profile, we can serve you customized communication. However, seldom can you rely on the Internet, for instance, to help craft your brand story. You still need a dose of a combination of vehicles, including traditional, all connected with your brand story.

Like every business, the agency business is continuing to be disrupted.

The good news is that agencies, while a little slow, have evolved and risen to the challenge. Smaller agencies are well positioned because they are more agile and able to move with more speed in a lot of cases.

Denver is hot right now. There is a really good vibe surrounding creativity, talent, entrepreneurship and an energy and enthusiasm that gives ad agencies a chance they be an important part of the overall scene. Even with a lot of constant change and the challenges that come with it, this is a good to be in the agency business!

Rob Bean, Senior Vice President of Marketing Strategy, Burns Marketing

Meet 2016, the year of sustainable marketing strategy

People have the marketing tools they need. They have access to all the techniques, channels, and analytics they could ever want. Plus some.

But they still – yes, still – lack the strategy. That’s why 2016 will be the year of putting today’s digital tools into practice in a strategic, sustainable way. It’s harder than you think.

First, a little background. Burns Marketing is a full-service agency that fulfills the needs of B2B marketing executives and directors in high-tech, life science, and large-association organizations. We recently completed a persona study of our direct agency buyers, and we discovered they’re all concerned, almost uniformly, about the complexity of putting all those techniques, channels, and analytics to use consistently.

Broadly speaking, marketing strategy and the need for quality content are the two- main concerns of our marketers coming into 2016, and these are the areas we hope to support them with the most. It’s not that they don’t know what to do, or even what the best practices are; their issues lie in assembling their bucketful of whizz-bang marketing tactics into a cohesive strategy, creating messaging and creative that matter to customers, empowering their teams to execute with precision, and generating campaign reporting that can actually steer decision-making.

The unfortunate reality is that, when marketers face this kind of complexity and urgency, their response is often a lack of investment in solid upfront thinking. That means they fall short in understanding their customers (content, buying needs, and cadence) and fail to develop and implement a plan to communicate to those specific pain points and needs. At Burns, we’re fans of using dogged research to inform a long-term, cohesive strategy; we also bear in mind some other basic blocking and tackling steps for shaping up a modern marketing plan. None of this is rocket science, but what all of these things require is patience and investment – seeing the process through so you can reap the reward.

Accordingly, here are some of the most important areas we’ll be working with our customers on in the coming year:

Setting goals that mean something. By starting with the end in mind and knowing your KPIs in advance, you’ll be positioned to better understand the performance you receive from the effort.

Defining core messages that move people. Knowing what you really want to get across – and what’s extraneous detail – will help you cut through the chaff and deliver your hardest-hitting messaging.

Always, always asking “What’s in it for them?” You must be able to say why your customers and prospects care about your company and your solution. It’s not about you. It’s about them.

Keep pushing the flywheel. Ask yourself which other teams and channels can help you build momentum and spread your message. You shouldn’t expect to move that mountain alone.

Address your audience how they want to be addressed. Differentiated content isn’t just a new feature – it’s a huge value-add in a marketing context that is filled with digital noise. Pivoting toward the right audience in the right way, at the right time, and using the right voice has never been so important.

Focus on what’s next. Don’t forget that every campaign should have a long-term plan, and legs to go with it. Stay on top of what you hope to communicate next, when, and in what format. Don’t fall behind.

Another important piece here? Count your victories. Modern marketing can feel like being in the middle of a blizzard. But don’t lose sight of the gains you’re making or lose faith in your ability to manage the storm. Pick good partners and keep your head down.

We’re all marching through it together.

About Burns Marketing

Burns Marketing is a technology-driven powerhouse of creative goodness. A full-service agency with offices in Denver, Northern Colorado, and London, we help brands generate demand for their products and services, which is what we’ve been doing since 1972 for companies such as Seagate, Citrix, HP, Comverge, Freightliner/ATBS, Arapahoe Libraries, MGMA, MHI Global, and many others. Read more of our story atBurnsMarketing.com or call 970.203.9656 for more information.

About Rob Bean

Developing digital standouts one relationship at a time. Rob regularly consults with agency clients to help them leverage their digital marketing investments and create digital experiences that people act on. He’s passionate about optimizing user experience and increasing end customer engagement. Rob specializes in content strategy, customer experience mapping, community development, and content management system integration. He has been part of the digital team at Burns Marketing since 1997, and helps lead the agency’s overall vision.


Items gleaned from various industry newsletters include:

• Mobile will continue to become most important for marketers

• Programmatic Media buying will become more the norm

• Content marketing will be critical to success

• Ad blockers will continue to be a problem for advertisers

• Advertisers must be more creative and targeted in presenting their message to insure customers want to receive the message

• Digital marketing will continue to take budget share from traditional media though traditional media will still be important in the marketing mix

• Native advertising will continue to grow, particularly in mobile, but will draw regulators attention requiring clear disclosure to insure disclosure to prevent consumers being mislead.

WalletHub released its 10 Financial Predictions for 2016 based in part on conversations with a panel of leading economics and finance experts.

1. U.S. GDP Growth Will Be Roughly 2.4%, Lagging the Worldwide Average of Roughly 3%

2. The U.S. Will Approach “Full Employment”

3. The S&P 500 Will End The Year At 2,188

4. U.S. Auto Sales Will Flirt With 18 Million

5. Oil Prices Will Post A Modest Rebound

6. The Fed Will Raise Rates Once In 2016, Bringing Its Median Target Rate to 0.625%

7. The Housing Market Will Be Marked By Slowed Growth, Higher Costs

8. Credit Availability Will Contract As Interest Rates & Defaults Rise

9. Medical Records Will Become An Increasingly Attractive Target For Identity Thieves Relative To Credit Info

Fannie & Freddie Will Say Farewell To FICO
For the full report, including a complete Q&A with those experts, please visit: https://wallethub.com/blog/2016-predictions/18005/

Click here for the complete article on The Review.

Picture of Elizabeth Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards is the founder of Volume PR, Engagement Science Lab, and creator of The Frequency of Understanding; an international movement to combining behavioral science and neuroscience with communication strategies to accelerate understanding and change.

About Elizabeth & Volume PR

Volume PR

Communication. Conversation. Conversion.