Seven Marketing Trends to Watch in 2022

Each year dawns with hopes of new opportunities and victory over existing business challenges. In this spirit, we look ahead at 2022 in terms of strategic marketing communications, with leading trends that could open new doors for, and break down impediments to, your business success.

1. Sustainable Branding for Long-Term Brand Equity

According to Forbes, more than 90 percent of CEOs said that sustainability, that is, successfully integrating environmental, economic and social issues into business operations, is fundamental for success. This phenomenon is expected to maintain momentum in 2022, as millennials continue to favor sustainable brands that promote social issues, apply sustainable manufacturing practices and, perhaps most importantly, exercise ethical business standards. Additionally, as reported in an earlier Forbes article, 81 percent of millennials expect companies to declare their corporate citizenship publicly. That makes it critical that companies say what they stand for and stand by those principles to assure positive consumer perception and brand identity.

2. The Power of Public Relations and Persuasive Content

Public relations will remain a cornerstone of brand creation and loyalty, when used to its fullest extent. While some people may equate PR with the occasional press release, it is far more. It begins with crafting messaging that will resonate with the right people in the right way, maintaining and building brand awareness. It goes on to propel a marketing plan built on persuasive content to create credibility, build relationships and educate consumers about your brand and show them how you stand out from your competition. Importantly, PR is about building a positive reputation for a brand that encourages consumers to trust – and choose – you. As such, it is an indispensable facet of marketing.

3. The Ins and Outs of Event Planning

They’re baaack! Live events are on the rebound, as consumers eager to end their isolation feel safer and more comfortable in group gatherings. As we’ve seen in our own outreach efforts for the City of Sarasota, St. Armands Circle and other clients, people of all ages will brave even bad weather to enjoy a good experience and the company of others. In the New Year, hybrid events also are expected to continue their growth, giving attendees the option of taking part in-person or virtually. In addition, as noted in Inc. magazine, we can expect to see more in-person events with a strong digital component and technologies such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality enabling an immersive experience for all participants.

4. Putting the Next Generation of Social Media to Work

Social media will continue to be a powerful marketing tool – but one that constantly must be monitored, both as to emerging opportunities (such as the currently hot Tik Tok video platform) and whether your brand is getting the most out of the ones you’ve chosen to use. It must be remembered that those platforms are not all the same nor do they reach the same people. As explained in Business News Daily, each platform has a mission, purpose and unique audience. So where should your brand be in 2022? Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? Snapchat? Pinterest? Reddit? Instagram? YouTube? Tik Tok? The answer(s) to that question could have profound impact on your consumer outreach.

5. CRM Becoming a Constant

The integration of customer relationship management (CRM) marketing is becoming the norm in business today. As a certified Salesforce partner, we understand how CRM is the leading technology for managing customer relationships across the entire customer lifecycle, spanning marketing, sales, digital commerce, and customer service interactions. It quickly is becoming an invaluable tool for connecting business silos, identifying and categorizing leads, enhancing customer support and attaining insights into improvement. CRM is the largest and fastest-growing enterprise application software category, and worldwide spending on CRM is expected to reach $114.4 billion by the year 2027. It increasingly is important that companies get onboard with this technology, leveraging its many uses for optimal operations.

6. Marketing for Hires

Like the proverbial cobber whose children have no shoes, companies can get so caught up in marketing their products/services that they fail to market themselves to their own employees and prospects. Being the company people want to work for is part of an overall employment marketing plan that assures targeting of the right candidates and enables careful presentation of a company’s strengths and image. Laying the groundwork for attaining, and keeping, the best involves judicious use of social media and quality copy that gets returned in a search. It’s its own art within the art of marketing and one every business should consider when developing their communications plans.

7. Audiences Large and Small

We wouldn’t be us if we didn’t encourage video. Over the years, we’ve given you stats on ever-shortening consumer attention spans and the increasing preference for video over text. Here’s a new one that can’t be ignored: In 2020, nine out of 10 viewers said that they wanted to see more videos from brands and businesses. Thus, it’s critical that video be integrated across all your platforms to assure comprehensive reach. At the other end of the spectrum, podcasts are an effective tool, enabling “hypertargeting” and creating value for listeners needing information and insights into specific issues and topics.

There you have it, the latest insights and revelations as we looking to the year ahead. Be assured there will be more as the year progresses, and we keep you informed and up to date with each. Happy New Year from our team to you and yours!

Today, there are many techniques for getting visitors to your website. Unfortunately, it takes more than a long-tail keyword to make them stay.

That, of course, is what you want. You want to capture their attention long enough to make your case – and convince them to choose you over your competitors.

And that’s where persuasive content in the form of thought leadership comes in, turning a plea of “trust us” into reasons why they should.

Persuasive content has been proven over and over to be a key step in both meaningful prospect engagement and the creation of long-term relationships, as companies provide valuable information to and about their markets and establish themselves as go-to experts in their fields.

Following are just a few ways you can use the knowledge you already possess, the expertise you already have and the success you’ve already achieved to generate leads and grow your business exponentially.

Case Studies

Case studies are more than testimonials (Tom: “They’re great!” Dick: “The best!” Harry: “No. 1!”), they are detailed explanations of how you helped others with needs much like those of the prospects reading it. They are the who, what, where, when, why and how of the application of your product or service, with the kicker of actual reported results.

This type of persuasive content helps prospects see themselves in a context they understand. They tell a story of interest to the reader and impart credibility that builds trust and confidence that choosing to work with you is a good decision. It is a solid example, not merely a promise. The more case studies you have, it follows, the louder the message that you understand the challenges of your target market and know how to address them.

Do they work? Yep. In fact, a recent Demand Gen Report showed case studies to be the most potent force in traditional persuasive marketing, with 79 percent of business-to-business companies reported leveraging them to research their buying decisions.

White Papers

Coming in as No. 2 on the marketing hit parade in that Demand Gen Report was white papers, with 71 percent of prospects using them to research potential purchases. The icing on this cake is that, if the topic and copy is really compelling, about three-quarters of respondents said they would share personal and company data in exchange for an opportunity to download it.

Basically, a white paper is a research report that highlights a specific issue and shows how it can be solved. It is intended to educate the reader, breaking down a complex issue and presenting the issuing organization’s viewpoint on it, while only tangentially referencing how that organization’s product or service can address that issue. It’s a bit of a high-wire act, as the right balance is needed to create and maintain credibility while making a strong case for a specific solution.

A good white paper is authoritative, informational, well researched, well documented and professionally written and presented. It also is reader-focused and heavy on the benefits of taking the path it lays out. And, yes, it can very persuasive.


Infographics are soundbites solidified. They enable people to easily digest information through the creative use of charts, statistics and visual data. When done well, they grab attention and make key information memorable. Evidence also exists that infographics are more likely to be shared than text-based content.

Infographics take advantage of the fact that about 65 percent of us are visual learners, learning and remembering best through visual communication. They can even be fun to read, way more entertaining than a statistical report. They also can give the reader options, allowing them to click through if they want more data on a certain point, which can guide your communications strategy.

Integrating your knowledge of what’s most important to your market with eye-grabbing design, you can give prospects information they need and quicken their journey to decision making.


Speaking of visual impact, video is said by many to be the most persuasive form of thought leadership and content marketing overall. When both succinct and effective, video can instruct, elicit emotion or elevate understanding within the attention span of the average consumer. Its movement grabs attention and good copy can keep it there, steering viewers to the next step in the decision-making process.

In the business world, according to Forbes research, nearly 60 percent of senior executives say they would rather watch a video than read text. And, while wit and creativity can play a role, the C-suite is, and always will be, focused on solving problems and meeting goals. Thus, a video should give them a quick insight into just that.

We live in a world of innumerable options and sensory overload, and it’s getting more difficult for the ordinary business without benefit of billions to be heard. Persuasive content is, without a doubt, the best and most economical way to amplify the volume, using information you already have to show your value and stand out among the competition.

At Next-Mark, we have collaborated with leading brands throughout the US and internationally in developing substantive content that not only provides a thought leadership platform but moves the needle in measurable business results. Contact us today to get started at 941.544.2765 or at

We’ve written in the past about strategic messaging, how it lays the groundwork for all business communications and how it can prepare you to respond to any situation.

And, boy, do we have a situation.

COVID-19 and its ramifications have changed almost everything about consumerism, causing massive shifts in customers’ buying habits, needs and priorities. The battlefield for attention also has shifted, with businesses worrying less about getting through the noise of their competitors and more about penetrating the mind of consumers in survival mode.

So, you may ask, how can a strategic messaging plan created in better days guide your communications in the face of an unprecedented, unanticipated and volatile worldwide event?

You might be surprised.

First, the strategic message planning process enables companies to establish who they are and what they want to represent. For all the clients we’ve helped in this journey, we’re proud to say, this has included some sort of giving back and caring about their customers and communities. This solid basis for empathy – perhaps the most treasured form of communication at this time – can direct what a company does in the face of this crisis and how it does it. Whether it’s using a 3D printer to make masks (as one of our clients has) or simply reaching out to say “we care” to reducing prices or donating money to organizing individuals in a related cause, a company can follow through in the way that reinforces their brand promise.

Next, as strategic messaging contains an internal aspect, it’s important to keep in touch with your employees, reinforcing what they already knew and being transparent in your dealings with them. How you treat them in this time is a reflection of who you are and extends beyond your walls to impact corporate image.

Strategic message planning also looks at ways in which organizations can disseminate their messages, deciding on the best ones for the right times and campaigns. With access to a variety of vehicles already in place, businesses can shift emphasis as needed. Obviously, now is not the time to invest in billboard advertising, but it is the time, for instance, to capture eyes through your social media platforms and online sponsorships.

As a company’s messaging captures its “voice,” organizations can build on that for consistency in image and communications. If you’re a serious venture bent on problem solving, keep it up and, if possible, applying it to the current situation. If you’re known to be a bit whimsical, feel-good messages can reinforce your brand while helping to ease anxiety.

Finally, strategic messaging is the fuel of crisis communications, providing guidance for outreach to all your constituencies – from employees to investors – already knowing how they prefer to be reached and what resonates with them.

When your company is ready to center itself with a strategic messaging process or protect itself with a crisis communications plan, we’ll be here to help.

Until then, stay safe and stay in touch with those who matter to you.

Roughly 90 percent of U.S. businesses reportedly use social media as a marketing tool. That number is a testament to the power of online outreach and the opportunities it can provide to grow sales. As we head into 2020, those opportunities no doubt will grow themselves, as technology continues to evolve at an astonishing pace and in possibly bewildering array. Following are some of the related trends we believe you can expect to see in the New Year.

  1. Content Continues Its Reign . . .

. . . and high quality is expected. Remember that no one knows what you do better than you, so use that knowledge not only to inform but to assist your prospects and customers. The more content, the better, as you make it easier for search engines to find you and your relevant information.

  1. Internal Communication Strengthens

Businesses will take a fresh look at an under-used weapon – their own employees – by aligning and engaging them with corporate goals and plans, using digital tools to create an atmosphere that spurs productivity, team work and mutual pursuit of excellence.

  1. Brands Take a Stand

This election year is expected to see more brands weigh in on issues that impact their brand purpose and audiences, as noted in Forbes. “Research has shown that trust among government is down, and more people are looking to their workplace and brands that emulate their personality and beliefs to drive change. For brands, it’s an opportunity to demonstrate their cultural relevance.”

  1. Customer Experience Drives Sales

The customer experience is predicted to become the leading brand differentiator in 2020 taking  Customer Relationship Marketing to a new level of necessity. “Consumers agree, according to a 2019 Salesforce survey. In it, 84% of respondents ranked the importance of experience at the same level as products or services.”

  1. Companies Get Personal

Most leading marketers agree that 2020 is going to see an explosion in personalized marketing, reaching out to consumers tired of the generic and the irrelevant. We saw this coming, in a recent survey 90 percent of consumer participants said they would be more likely to give their business to a company that offered them a personalized experience.

  1. Surveys Get Shorter, “Smarter”

Tired of tedious, and often clunky surveys, consumers will drive companies to create “micro surveys” as quick pop-ups on phones or websites if they are to succeed in information gathering in the next decade. The most sophisticated research eventually will incorporate artificial intelligence in the data collection process and lay the foundation for real-time, “conversational” marketing.

  1. Going with the Pros

It’s taken awhile, but business leaders are acknowledging that digital marketing is its own animal and needs a plan and strategy. Rather, digital marketing needs to be driven by people who know what they’re doing on each and every relevant platform available – while always looking for the next.

  1. Thoughtful Outreach

Now, more than ever, it’s not enough to just post on a regular schedule. Each piece of outreach should be developed to inspire conversations, establish your place in existing ones and create meaningful relationships.

We no doubt will be talking more in-depth about these and other digital trends in the New Year, as they continue to alter marketing in our ongoing digital age. Until then, we’re here to take on the task or answer any questions you might have as 2020 looms with unprecedented outreach opportunities. Wishing you continued success in the new year!


We once engaged with a new client whose leaders were among the most enthusiastic and involved professionals we’d ever seen. They were revved up about their company’s abilities, its accomplishments and its future, and eager to tell us why. Thus, our strategic messaging sessions with them produced marketing communications gold.

Funny thing, though. Very few nuggets of that gold could be found in their existing marketing outreach. Pretty much none.

The reason was obvious. As a challenger brand in a competitive market, they had positioned themselves to align with their peers, saying what those companies said and what they thought they were expected to say. Given their success, it obviously worked. But, given that success, it was now time to step away from the crowd, showing their unique niches, abilities and personality.

This involved a new strategic plan and a strategic messaging architecture to support it. We were happy to help with the latter, creating a foundation for a cohesive image, compelling content, a strong voice in the marketplace and consistency in all interactions – with employees, prospects, customers, investors and partners.

There are various types of strategic messaging frameworks, some simple, some extremely complicated. Some plans are created internally; others rely on outside consultants for a fresh, unbiased view. All, however, should incorporate the following:

  • A value statement that lays out organizational priorities and core beliefs.
  • A positioning statement that puts the “why” in “why us.”
  • The target audiences to be reached.
  • How the organization meets those audiences’ needs, solves their problems or improves their lives.
  • Primary and secondary messaging to keep the proverbial horse in front of the proverbial cart.

There are entire books written on the subject, but, simply put: Messaging can have more of an impact than almost anything else in business. When driven by strategy, it also can be a source of rejuvenation and a springboard for advancement in the marketplace.

Let us know if you’re ready to jump on that trampoline. It can be fun and exhilarating, as well as meaningful.

If there’s one form of business communication that has stood the test of time and made an easy transition into the Digital Age, it’s the newsletter. In a world ruled by new technologies, it may be hard to imagine how it has survived as a content distribution channel. Yet, it remains a content marketer’s favorite medium and serves as a key tool in your digital marketing arsenal.
Not convinced? Below we have put together five reasons you should consider joining the successful businesses that have used their expertise and thoughtful content to make valuable connections with clients and prospects through the power of the email newsletter.
1. That ROI Thing
 Email marketing is the absolute easiest, fastest and cheapest way to get your organization in front of people who matter. One study, in fact, found that for every $1 spent on email marketing, $44 is made in return, Email Newsletters pull their weight in this type of cost-effective outreach by being able to address issues, solve problems and educate, creating a community of readers and building trust.
2. Elite Positioning
With the right information in it, a digital newsletter can position you as the thought leader among like businesses or within an industry. You become the authority readers go to source when they have questions or are seeking solutions. And, significantly, you’re the one they refer to friends, family and others. Once you get someone on your list, you’re already preaching to the choir – to people open to building a relationship with you.
3. Long Engagements
Statistics show how that email newsletter readers spend 80-percent more time on its host site – a significant commitment in this day and age. And, once your digital newsletter is opened and read, the user may just stick around to see what else is there. Links within the newsletter also build on the interest you’ve created, by redirecting readers to other site sections and adding weight to your value story.
4. Identity Heft
Digital communication is hands down the timelier format for news, updates and announcements. Email newsletters, by virtue of their ease and immediacy, enable you to speak to your target audience about who you are now, with up-to-date insight into what is happening with your organization, brand identity, values and philosophy.
5. It Isn’t Over When It’s Over
Once you’ve sold a consumer something or provided a needed service, you’ve completed more than just a transaction. You’ve shown that your marketing has worked, and you have gotten to know the individual a little better. Digital analytics offered by some email marketing platforms can also help you further hone and customize your newsletter so you may zero in on the appropriate target audience.
These points represent just some of the many “whys” of adding digital newsletters to your marketing mix. As for the “hows,” you’ll need strong, compelling, on-brand content written in a professional, yet personal, way. The document should be visually compelling, as well, without being overdone. There are other fine points of technology and tracking, but, all in all, your digital newsletter can be the best – and fastest – way to build relationships, your brand and your business.

For years, we’ve been trumpeting the value of “content marketing,” that is, the consistent generation and distribution of content that customers and prospects find relevant and useful. During that time, we’ve seen a number of companies attempt to hop on the content bandwagon – only to fall off again when they missed the mark.

Whether your organization is on the sidelines or leading the parade, here are some trends we’re seeing that you may wish to consider as you create and/or tweak your strategic marketing plan for 2018.

  • Real writing. By that we mean the products of professional writers. Companies that staff or outsource content creation by trained professionals will have a leg up. Not only will they have better content, but it will be generated more quickly by people accustomed to deadlines and adept at story telling.
  • Real thought. For instance, one of the marketing flavors of the day is the infographic. Ostensibly a vehicle for disseminating complex information in an understandable form, many of this ilk appear to so cluttered that it requires an advanced engineering degree to sort out. It’s not enough to have content – in any form – it must be content created with the reader in mind and promoted in the right way to the right audience(s).
  • Real time. There are two factors at work here. First, it appears that organizations are creating content less on a hard schedule – “We need a blog every Friday!” – and more when they have something worthwhile to say. This is a good thing. Just as with press releases, less can be so much more. The second factor involves the growth of livestreaming of video. Look for more as, according to a widely reported survey, more than 80 percent of respondents said they would rather watch a live video from a brand than read a blog.
  • Real accountability. Whether you take our advice of employing professional writers or not, make sure someone is in charge of your content creation, blogging, social media, etc. That person should have the long view of your goals and assure that all supporting documentation moves those goals along.
  • Real commitment. Content marketing is only as powerful as the effort behind it. For instance, what comes to mind when you’re on a company’s web site and discover it hasn’t posted a blog, a press release, a white paper, etc. in months? Or there’s no original content, just pass-alongs of someone else’s thinking? Not exactly confidence inspiring, is it? The point is that, as with any worthwhile endeavor, you must be in it to win it.

Content marketing is not to be taken lightly. It requires purpose, planning and follow-through. Though the journey takes time and energy, however, the destination promises significant rewards.

Let us know if we can help you get there.

A recent study, “The Science of Social Video: Turning Views into Value,” by the Vanson Bourne international research firm has a lot to say about a hot topic – the impact of social video on commerce.

We’ve been promoting videos for our clients – social and otherwise – for some time now, and reports such as this only solidify our commitment to the medium. If you are still on the fence for your organization, however, here are a few findings that led Vanson Bourne to conclude that “social video is driving significant brand interactions.”

  • Nearly 80 percent of consumers surveyed reported engaging with brands on social media, such as YouTube and Facebook.
  • Three in four respondents linked social video viewing to purchasing decisions.
  • Consumers surveyed reported spending an average of six hours per week watching video content on social media networks alone, and 67 percent said that this amount has increased in the past 12 months.
  • Americans emerged as the most likely to watch ‘how-to’ videos.

In addition, nearly 80 percent of respondents agreed that video the easiest way is to get to know a brand online.

We belief that’s the crux, as that’s what marketing today is all about – creating relationships and encouraging ongoing conversations. Pictures merely sweeten (and can hasten) the deal.

Still, as in most media, competition is fierce and only the strong will prosper. A video is only as good as the message it conveys, the emotions it creates and the results it drives. Thus, the incredible marketing opportunity afforded by social video could be quickly diminished by poor quality.

If social video is, indeed, a part of your marketing plan (and we believe that, in many cases, it should be), it requires a special skill set to get it right. Getting it wrong can get it noticed and shared, but not in the way an organization had hoped.

These are exciting times for an exciting media outlet. If we’ve piqued your interest, give us a buzz to learn more. We would be happy to discuss whether social video is right for your business, your product and your goals and how we can help you get started.

Just as the shoemaker’s child goes barefoot, marketing agencies sometimes forget to employ the same customer experience tactics for themselves that they do for their clients. That is, they get so wrapped up in the work that they forget to build the relationship. Then, at the end of the project or contract, while the client may walk away happy – he or she may also walk away forever.

That’s because the work is not enough.

Clients expect you to do good work when they hire you. Unfortunately, they may think anyone they hire can do the same caliber of work, so it doesn’t really matter whom they choose.

That’s why you have to make yourself the obvious choice, every time and all the time.

Often, it boils down to adherence to the Four Cs: Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Commitment. And, while it may seem simple, their navigation actually is about as easy as a tightrope walk.

Communication is more than just keeping in touch. It is an ongoing process of give and take, but giving and taking in a way that is non-disruptive for both your organization and the client. That’s why a front-loaded system works best; that is, a strategic look at what already is being said and the goals of, and agreement on, new messaging. This reduces the need for meetings and constant wheel re-invention, enabling all to spend their time more productively and in a less stressful way. How does this create a strong relationship? With this approach, you become the archivist – the person/group that already has the informational foundation from which to launch more, and new, campaigns.

Collaboration, while easy to define, is definitely not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Some clients are more hands-on; others are more than happy to let you take the wheel. It all comes down to each client’s specific rhythms and comfort zones. It also ties in with what some call a concierge strategy, which focuses on providing exemplary service, advice and guidance to meet a wide variety of immediate needs. In marketing, however, it also involves taking the time to listen and understand the client’s long-term goals, marrying that with any episodic requests or one-off projects in order to promote a cohesive marketing effort. The best collaborations fall into the middle of the extremes, based on the mutual trust and respect that form the foundation for productive interactions.

Creativity, of course, is key – but not just for creativity’s sake. It is a sad fact that some agencies can get so caught up in the dazzle that they forget the message. The point is to make the client stand out in its market and industry, but in a good way and a way that builds and maintains momentum. We all have commercials we love but we couldn’t name the sponsor if our lives depended upon it. That’s why it is so important to help clients develop creative strategies that align with their business goals and generate a sustainable conversation about their brands.

Commitment, on the other hand, is one area in which it’s all right to be a little self-centered, nurturing a passion to do your best work at all times and pride that will allow you to do no less. This may sound like a no-brainer and it is – in the most literal way.

That’s because true commitment is a product of the heart, truly caring about the client’s future and being proud to do your part.

Like any strong relationship, the creation of an exceptional client experience builds up over time and requires concerted effort. And, as in any relationship worth pursuing, it requires regular tune-ups to keep it strong and never taking the connection for granted. In marketing, that means assuring the client stays on course but not on automatic pilot, engendering the confidence and loyalty that keeps the bond strong.

A recent New York Times article, “More Wretched News for Newspapers as Advertising Woes Drive Anxiety,” took me back to my days as a print journalist, when a certain editor, to keep us humble, would say, “Remember, you’re just filling the white space around the ads.”

He was right. At least at that time, studies showed that people, when presented with multiple publishers, subscribed to the newspaper whose ads reflected their local shopping patterns. For some of those people, nothing we ever wrote would be as important as a dollar-off coupon for ground beef.

But I digress.

The issue here is the bleak future of newspapers as they continue to be drained of the lifeblood that is print advertising and the question it raises, that is, where are those ads going? The answer, you may have guessed, is at your fingertips – on your phone and personal devices.

As reported in AdAge, the latest local ad revenue forecast from BIA/Kelsey indicates that revenue from local-focused online ads will exceed that of traditional ads aimed at local audiences by 2018. This “digital transformation,” statistics show, is taking place across the nation and “risks sidelining traditional print ads.” It also isn’t helping the television industry, as a new report by eMarketer projects that U.S. digital ad sales will surpass traditional TV for the first time by the end of this year.

The bright side for advertisers is that the emergence of digital outreach widens, rather than narrows their opportunities, offering new ways to win new customers.

Still, danger lurks, as every type of advertising – from sandwich boards to emails to the most sophisticated digital ad – requires a different type of knowledge and expertise to create and execute correctly, and most all campaigns require a mix of media. Further, when initiating digital outreach, which can far exceed any publication’s circulation or TV’s program viewership, advertisers pretty much have to get it right the first time.

In other words, it’s not for amateurs.

If you’re interested in initiating or transforming your own advertising, let’s start a conversation. We’d be happy to share our insights and help you share your word.