2009 Marketing Predictions

Annually I try and predict what the new year will bring in terms of marketing. I base my insights on lots of things, and I believe I am more often right than wrong. So, here’s what I think 2009 has in store:
1.) Retail will falter, except low end providers like Wal-Mart and Dollar Tree ( when I started in this game in the 80′s everyone was crying retails’ death and it came back strong). Others will lose margin to survive.
2.) Healthcare, Education, Government and Utilities will grow and be viable. So will software providers who can prove increased productivity with their products. ( consider marketing to these groups)
3.) B-to-B marketers will become much better at measurable marketing. The ones that do will prosper, grow and end up buying their competitors.
4.) Non-profits will find it harder to raise funds from newer donors, but will prosper if they “mine” their current donor files correctly.
5.) There will be even more interest in emerging media:Social Media, E-mail, Blogs, YouTube, Microblogs, Pod & Videocasts and TV-like commercials produced specifically for the web and key segments will flourish.
6.) Mobile marketing will NOT take off in North America.
7.) PR, and the ability to track it, will be more critical than ever — especially in the emerging channels.
8.) Story-selling will emerge as a key marketing discipline that, combined with the right offer, to the right audience at the correct time will work very profitably.
9.) Direct Marketing thinking will become critical to an organization’s marketing success.

I have more, but that’s a good start.

Finally, marketing accountability and a shift from large to mid-sized ad agencies will rule the day. (Yes, I am biased as I own one). If you can’t measure the right metrics, you will fail. If you can and can learn, you can market smarter and will gain market share (really).

Grant A. Johnson
Johnson Direct LLC


  1. An interesting list Grant.

    Your number 9 comment conjures memories coming out of working in this industry since the mid 70′s.

    You said: “Direct Marketing thinking will become critical to an organization’s marketing success.“

    Who would have believed it has taken all of these years for CMOs and company leaders to recognize the power of direct marketing thinking?

    But I wonder if we are really there?

    In the past, we tended to confuse the clear divide between objectives and key marketing strategies. For example, awareness building and branding were perceived as the objectives rather than strategies.

    Awareness building and brand advertising are not goals but rather optional strategies for accomplishing the goal. And that goal is to increase profitability, sales and market share. These key strategies were conceived to achieve given objectives. Period.

    By making these strategies goals, many companies lost their way spending billions on wasted advertising expenditures. Corporate America automatically assumed that the goal of increasing sales would come automatically with high awareness levels. And branders believed that brand building consisted only of the advertising message rather than the soul and the sum of the activities of the organization.

    Great brands and great awareness advertising do not automatically guarantee corporate sales objectives on their own. Somewhere along the way, companies must figure out how to move product.

    These conditions have existed for several generations, yet direct marketing did not get the attention it deserved. What has really changed?

    I see much greater acceptance of the direct marketing discipline than I did 20 years ago. But the old ways die hard. Companies must open their minds to the untapped potential of the direct marketing approach.

  2. Many thanks for your insights – I always value your predictions and guidance. Can you please be more specific about #8, story-telling. Do you see that in terms of all channels?

  3. Hi Ted,

    Thanks for an insightful reply per usual. As for #9, I think the big difference this year will be the combination of a poor economy, lack of consumer confidence and companies still needing to sell their products and services. This leads to more marketing spend being shifted from traditional channels to emerging media, which, I believe, are direct response in nature because they can be tracked and thus measured. This, coupled with marketing now being a P&L function, and those marketing executives who want to keep their jobs understanding such, will need to rely on direct marketing thinking. It would be even better if it were mandated from the C-level suites. Time will tell, but as you know, the internet has shifted marketing thinking more toward direct marketing (at least for great companies like Amazon) and has made many more advertising and marketing professional take note of its power.

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