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What Have We Learned?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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At the end of a course, session, lecture, semester, or year, every person should take some time to reflect on their journey. We should all think about the knowledge we had at the beginning, and evaluate how it has changed. Have our thoughts and opinions been challenged? Have our opinions changed, or reinforced? What new things did we add to our arsenal?

As marketing professionals, we should be doing this more than yearly. Yes, the landscape on which we do business changes constantly. Yet as society dictates, the end-of-year assessment is not escaped.

We have learned several things, and we would like to share. Feel free to add your thoughts too.

1. The Fragmented Future

We wrote about this a lot in 2013, and we think this will be one of the most important- though unsexy- themes in 2014. With mobile increasing, more social communities are developing and are making mass marketing teechniques nearly obsolete. With fragmented (or highly segmented) markets, information can be more specific- creating an extremely loyal fan base but high barriers of entry for competitors, and high learning curves for new customers. As marketing professionals, we should all be interested to see how this turns out.

2. Power of Mom

The year of 2013 was big for mom. Agencies, writers, and marketers really went after mom this year. Even so, according to M2Moms.com, 73% feel that advertisers still are unaware of how it is to be a mom. That says a lot. 

3. Big Data- Eh.

This year was the year of Big Data- predictive modeling, improving customer tracking online and mobile, and trying to interpret the findings were all the rage. But how useful is Big Data if we don't know how to use it?  Case in point- see #2. If we are collecting terabytes of data from moms, why are we reaching only 27% of them? Creativity and good research still reigns supreme. Big Data can help, but we learned that it cannot serve as a viable substitute.

4. Industry Consolidation

The Publicis-Omnicom merger is one of the biggest mergers our industry will see. With that behemoth looming, the industry will shift in order to remain competitive. Groups like WPP and Havas have already begun growing their ranks. Indie shops are positioning themselves as the lean, mean, agile machines they have always been, but are getting louder. Will all this work? Maybe. As much as we have heard that bigger isn't always better, the powers-that-be seem to think quite differently. It seems that when we talk resources versus creativity, resources win outright. We are in no position to tell you if that's a good thing or not. But we guess that it is easier to be creative when you have resources. Then again, there must be a reason why we aren't seeing that happen.

5. Greater Need for Good Marketing

To sum it all up, not only do we need to continue sharpening our craft, but we need to recruit more talent into the industry. We need writers. We need thinkers. We need risk-takers. Hopefully those thinkers are risk-takers who can write well. Let's hold those practitioners doing poor marketing work accountable. Let's examine how the 4A's, the AMA, and the ANA can grow some teeth. As marketing professionals, we need to grow more affection for the industry. Let's keep the chastisement in-house. This year made it apparent that things need to change. Don't get us wrong, things are going to change either way; but let's act, rather than react.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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