THE BLOG

Tips to Crank Up Marketing in '14

11/26/2013 10:50 am ET | Updated Jan 26, 2014

I saw my first "perfect gift for Dad" holiday commercial this week. For the man who has everything, you can buy "super-grip" pliers that serve a multitude of macho functions including, (this was my favorite) "safely hold materials when you weld and grind." Does it get manlier than that?

I figure if they can start advertising the holiday season before Thanksgiving (and, alas, even before Halloween), then we can begin discussing marketing for 2014 now. Here are a few things to think about as you plan for '14:

Publish or Perish
For years, we in the PR game have jockeyed for position to be sources for media outlets. But guess what? Due to the ongoing fragmentation of mainstream media, opportunities to "be quoted" are tougher and tougher to secure. Today, successful marketers have taken on the added role of publishers. We can't necessarily wait for media to come and cover us, so we have to develop our own content -- blogs, articles, videos, research -- and distribute it ourselves. How do you become a publisher? There are options: Write your own blog and distribute it to your contact list; write your own news in the form of press releases and send them out via a private wire service; create your own informational videos to publish on YouTube. Social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) offer other ways to publish -- either in a free or paid manner. And when you do secure the media hit, publish that too.

On the Road Again
According to a Pew Research Center study published in May, 63% of adult cell owners use their phones to go online, and 34% of cell internet users go online mostly using their phones -- not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer. Further, mobile web use is higher among minorities.

The stats tell the tale. If you are not prepared for mobile customers then you are missing out on a major opportunity; so you need to make sure your website is optimized for mobile. If you have the luxury of creating a new site in the near future, be sure to follow the web design approach known as Responsive Web Design. Such designs automatically resize your website based on the device used. So the site's copy and photos will look good and in proportion whether it is viewed on a desktop, phone, laptop or tablet. It will even re-size when you turn your tablet from portrait to landscape view.

If a redesign isn't in the cards, a number of third-party vendors can also help improve a site's mobile performance. Some hosting companies offer options and other "multi-screen vendors" can provide an effective fix. Google provides a list of these vendors here: http://www.google.com/think/multiscreen/vendors.html

If you have a retail business (all businesses, really), be certain that your address is easily found on your website and your phone number can be dialed with a tap from a mobile device. Many of your prospects don't pick up the Yellow Pages anymore. They grab the nearest internet-enabled device and let Google's fingers do the walking.

Content Needs to Hum Like a Bird
Have you heard of Hummingbird? The consensus on the street is that Google's new Hummingbird algorithm places greater emphasis on content rather than keywords. A recent article in Entrepreneur magazine explains it better than I can. Here's an excerpt: "Hummingbird was designed to focus on the meaning behind the words instead of just the words themselves. This allows webpages that match the meaning of a query to rank better than a page that matches just a few words."

Further: "This means adding more blog entries and pages to your website which help answer questions that your target audience is looking to have answered. Offering high-quality analysis and expertise on a specific topic makes for a great start to a successful content strategy."

What this tells me is that the days of creating keyword intensive pages are over. I also hear that appending content with your keywords now has less value. With each new update, Google is moving closer to its overall goal which (we sometimes forget) is to drive you to what you are looking for online - not what clever SEO guys want you to find.

What trends do you see for marketing in 2014? I'm interested, so let me know.