3 things I learned about marketing in 2009

Ahh, the yearly round-up. Something about the coming New Years bash makes everyone sit down and write up summaries of 2009 and predictions for 2010. Reflection is always a good thing to start with before launching into another year, so I sat down to think over a few things I learned about marketing and social media in 2009. Here are my thoughts:

1) Measurement is essential, and really hard.

We blog about the importance of measurement frequently, and tell all of our clients how important measurement is to the success of their marketing and social media efforts. But despite the use of myriad tools and the delivery of hundreds of reports, measurement remains a hurdle. Not because we don’t have a lot of metrics and measurements in place or because the numbers are hard to calculate, but because the overall results, despite measurement, can often be a more qualitative sense of success then a quantitative and proven win. Brand perception, awareness and accessibility are not, at the end of the day, easily measured in strict numbers. So while we feel our work has helped clients make great strides, it is often hard to prove that in black and white without a shadow of a doubt. Marketing has always had this hard to pin down side, but with all the numbers that ARE available now, it is harder to say that in fact there really are some things we still can’t measure.

2) Personal branding is time consuming but very effective.

This observation comes both from personal experience and observation as well as from a good degree of reading and writing about personal branding and reputation management throughout 2009. Good personal branding involves work across many online channels as well as a lot of in-person efforts. By the time you factor in blogging regularly, keeping up with twitter, updating your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, attending Tweet-ups and other local networking events, applying for and preparing for speaking engagements, hosting networking events and following up with contacts, your personal branding efforts can quickly become a full time job. Managing your time effectively so as to allow time for these efforts is essential though, as a good faith effort in all these areas can decidedly pay off. There is no doubt that if you’re looking for work or clients and you spend time each week working on your personal brand, that you won’t at least make some lasting and great contacts who will help you develop professionally.

3) The age barrier to social media adoption is basically gone.

For the last few years, social media and online tools as well as mobile technology have all been discussed as they relate to the younger generations. But in my experience this year, I would argue that is no longer the case. Baby boomers and even the 60-75 year-old crowd is adopting social media in droves, using mobile devices to connect and networking in places like LinkedIn and Facebook more than the teen group early adopters. While their full understanding of how each tool works may not be at quite the level of early adopters, they are using these technologies as much as younger people. This is an essential fact to know for 2010, as marketers consider what tools and technologies to address, don’t assume that the older age groups are still lagging behind.

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  • Anya,

    Great post. I was especially drawn to #1 - measurement. I have been working in direct marketing for longer than I care to admit but 2009 was definitely a year where everyone wanted to measure everything.

    The problem was the result was analysis paralysis - too much data, not enough planning on what questions needed to be answered and what data was necessary to answer those questions. There were too many meetings that turned into debates over the findings because no agreed up front.

    Hopefully in 2010 there will be some conversation beforehand, as well as agreement on [a] what are we trying to answer, [b] how will we act based on the answers (if there is no actionable findings, why invest the time to gather, analyze and recommend?), and [c] what information is acceptable in order to answer the questions (data sources as well as data points).

    Best wishes for 2010!
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