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  • Purnima Thakre

Winter is Coming for Marketers – Inbound 2016

Every time we hear a keynote address about marketing trends, it feels like someone is talking about the weather. The climate is always changing (usually for the worse), and yet people never seem to pay attention and keep doing the same old thing. But you can bet the 18,000 attendees at Inbound 2016, a recognized marketing conference organized by HubSpot last week in Boston, were paying attention to the latest industry weather forecast and taking note on how to avoid getting buried in the heavy snows of this coming winter.


Still using TV ads?

Entrepreneur and author Gary Vaynerchuk gave the first keynote of the conference on Tuesday evening. He started off by sharing a powerful insight regarding the technology and media shift from TV to smartphones: he asked everyone to raise their hands if “they either fast-forward the TV commercials or watch their favorite shows on ad-free platforms such as Netflix and HBO GO”–imagine what the effect was like when almost 10,000 hands went up in the room. And yet the total TV ad spending for 2015 was $80 billion in the US!


He went on to predict that many marketers will miss “the golden era of Facebook marketing,” which he highlighted as having the “ability to build enormous awareness.” And if there’s a marketer who has the credentials to make such a bold prediction, it’s Vaynerchuk. He recommended that marketers immediately start focusing on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat–which, despite being so well established, still far trail TV in terms of ad spending–before it becomes increasingly expensive in the next three years.

Try something called social media!

Vaynerchuk next revealed the “second best marketing arbitrage” (besides Facebook marketing): influencer marketing. According to his experience, this tactic provides a large amount of exposure and promotion for a relatively low price point. In just some quick searching, I already found a few platforms such as Famebit and IZEA that leverage social media influencers to promote your brand.


The exciting element of influencer marketing is that you can leverage someone else’s loyal audience while you build your own community. Many brands, however, use influencers as another advertising channel where someone gets paid for saying good things about your product. Lacking authenticity can hurt your campaign. Avoid this by developing partnerships that foster alignment and long-term cultural commitment. 

On Friday morning, towards the end of the conference, TV star Alec Baldwin shared one of the most brilliant marketing insights of the week:

Baldwin, who is the host of “Here’s the thing,” suggested that podcasting is a great way to reach audiences without the typical interruptive approach of other marketing channels.

Should you start podcasting now?

You may be excited to launch or advertise through a podcast now, especially when you read that “65% of listeners are likely to buy a product after hearing an ad in a podcast.” But before you just go spend your money on some random podcast, take a step back and think strategically. First, define a target audience, then find a niche podcast that is aligned with your brand personality, and make sure the connection is relevant to your product/service. You probably don’t want your SaaS product being advertised in an exotic gourmet food podcast.

Buckle up

A lot of us receive alerts about inclement weather on our cellphones–especially us Bostonians during the winter–so that we don’t get stuck in traffic during a blizzard or caught without a jacket outside when the temperature plummets.


Well, treat these trend alerts as the proof that a marketing storm is in the forecast, because those who don’t start to prepare now will face the consequences of poor planning within a year or two, or maybe sooner. Marketers can decide whether to pack their snow boots or freeze during this major industry shift where, as Vaynerchuk put it, “the smartphone is now the TV, and the TV is the now radio.”

If you went to Inbound 2016 or know about other trends shaping the marketing spectrum, I’d appreciate it if you shared any comments or insights below. I’d love to hear more about other ways to optimize marketing efforts and make sure my strategy is winter-proof.


Cover Photo Credits: Towneley Park, Burnley, UK by Paul Green

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