Foghound Sounds Off For 2007

Communications strategy firm Foghound today released its second annual “Hound Trends,” identifying 10 marketing trends predicted to heat up in 2007, and grading its 2006 predictions.

1. Virtual worlds explode and get branded. While Second Life continues to boom, companies will offer more manageable and intimate virtual worlds, like CokeStudios. Private branded virtual worlds not only appeal to people who are overwhelmed by Second Life expanse, but give marketers a new way to connect directly with customers and capture new types of customer data and insights.

2. More “Jon Stewartizing” of marketing and PR: Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” has changed how people consume TV news, getting more from smart comedians on the Comedy Central than the establishment networks’ news broadcasters. Look for more companies to “Jon Stewartize” their Web content, sales meetings, PR programs, similar to what IBM did when it released its hilarious fake mainframe sales training videos on YouTube.

3. More marketing mash-ups: Look for more companies to create interesting mash-ups, combining content from multiple sources to create new types of experiences and services. See Business Week’s article, “Mix, Match and Mutate,” for a quick overview, and check out the Sun Labs Snapp Radio mash-up of Radio Paradise, and Flickr.

4. Service innovation trumps product innovation: While innovation has focused on product innovation, more and more companies will begin looking at how to innovate services because service has such an influence on customer preference and loyalty. Service innovation firms, like Peer Insight, will become more influential than product innovation specialists.

5. Business intelligence shakes loose its shackles: Business intelligence, while valuable, has been confined to analyzing structured data. New technologies that can analyze unstructured data – like call center notes, blog postings, email exchanges – opens up valuable new insights, making it easier to pinpoint opinion leaders, categorize emerging issues and assess attitudes and sentiments towards brands and companies. Keep an eye on this new breed of BI companies like ClaraBridge.

6. Blogger fatigue escalates: More people will tire of reading so many blogs, and will narrow down their daily reading and posting. In fact, The Gallup Poll recently signaled the turn, reporting that blog readership slowed down in 2006 after five years of strong growth.

7. Marketing geeks got some respect. The science side marketers get more respect – and become much more in demand, filling the underserved market need for professionals steeped both in business strategy and business modeling, predictive technologies and analytics.

8. Web 2.0 over-hypes: mania over digital marketing and communications goes into over-drive with shades of hype all over again, including the good, the bad and the ugly. Social networking, blogs, communities become more relevant and valuable, but beware that they’re not for every business.

9. Face-to-face meetings back in style: While more people meet up in virtual words and connect via blogs, even more people will opt for face-to-face conversations, meetings and conferences. According to the National Business Travel Association, 67.7 percent of corporate travel managers expect business travel to be up in 2007.

10. “Interactive” departments go away, folding into mainstream marketing, as marketers now see “e” as core to marketing and not “new media and marketing.”

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