Technology opens up new marketing channels

More than half of all searches for information originate on a mobile device, a historical first that occurred in the last half of 2013, and that is dramatically altering the way marketers connect with their target consumers.

Today’s smart designers are designing for mobile ahead of all other platforms “because mobile is the prevailing form of interaction,” said Steve Laughlin, chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based advertising, marketing and public relations firm Laughlin Constable.

The mass migration of consumers to mobile platforms to collect information, compare price points, book appointments and track orders, among other tasks, has created an urgent need for businesses, both B2B and B2C, to ensure their technology assets are up to speed with people’s expectations, Laughlin said.

“Companies have to become more proficient in their use of technology because consumers are becoming more reliant on technology to gather information,” said Laughlin, who was a featured panelist at the Northern Trust Economic Trends Breakfast presented by BizTimes Media on Jan. 17.

Other rapidly changing technologies, such as social media and website capabilities, are also significantly impacting the way marketers and companies can communicate with their customers. The tightknit relationship between technology and marketing has mutual benefits, Laughlin said.

“Technology and marketing are driving, I think, both sides of the equation,” he said. “One is good for the other.”

With this surge of reliance on technology comes an increased need for businesses to be diligent in managing their content, ensuring it is reader-friendly, up to date and eye-catching, since customers can access it from practically anywhere, anytime.

Companies’ business models also need to be responsive to technology, Laughlin said. He points to industry giants Google, Amazon and Netflix as thought leaders that have leveraged innovations in technology to spark new business opportunities and drive growth.

Netflix has evolved from screening films and programs to creating and broadcasting its own content.

“Once people have you in their digital space, they’re going to look for more ways to serve you and keep you there,” Laughlin said.

Looking at 2014 trends in marketing and technology, Laughlin anticipates a “year of opposing forces.”

While more and more big data will be readily available, people still yearn for personal privacy, he said. And as consumers pressure companies to lower their prices, provide greater value and work more efficiently, wealth generated in the markets is creating an unprecedented demand for premium goods.

Opposing forces are also evident in competing brands as large, household name companies and chains share market space with smaller, independent companies offering unique products and services.

As big companies continue to scale up, some consumers are seeking smaller, more experiential products and services, which opens up room for emerging entrepreneurs, Laughlin said.

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