It’s Not Too Soon: Time to Plan for 2020 and the Decade Ahead

It’s hard to believe, but 2020 is FAST approaching.  Not only is it time to start planning for next year, you should also be thinking about the decade of incredible change ahead. Here are six sales and marketing trends, challenges and opportunities we see coming in 2020 and beyond.

Trend: In-person interactions become popular again.

Only so much of life can be lived in a virtual bubble. When it comes to marketing and sales, the limit has been reached. In 2020 and the decade ahead, it will be time to get REAL again.

More and more marketers and sales pros will turn to trade shows and other live, in-person events to humanize their brands and interact with prospective customers.

Before you think live means exclusively personal, think again.

Personal sales interactions in the future will be supported by significant advancements in technology. Humans will become SUPERhuman.

  • Face and body scanning software will make it possible for sales reps to learn about prospective customers and their propensity to buy. The technology will analyze their postures and facial expressions and report on the attitudes — positive and negative — these physical factors represent.
  • Electronic badges will track the activities of trade show attendees and record them. The data will be used by marketers and salespeople to understand their interests, along with their interactions with competitors. This will help them better tailor their marketing pitches and sales conversations.
  • Activities such as games, quizzes, and videos will not only attract visitors to booths and entertain them, they’ll also gather valuable data that will help close more deals.

One emerging trade show technology that will definitely gain traction in 2020 and beyond is the use of business card scanning software. Mobile Locker is a leader in this area. All sales reps have to do is take pictures of the business cards of the people they meet. The software uploads the information on the cards to a database. At the same time, it searches the internet in real-time to provide reps with complete information about the people they interact with at trade shows. Imagine the power of knowing everything about prospects during your first conversation with them! It’s a game-changing tool that will advance selling at trade shows in the decade ahead.

Opportunity: Customization is taken to the ULTIMATE level.

Do you think marketers and salespeople offer customized experiences today? Wait until you see what’s coming in the years ahead!

Advances in artificial intelligence will make it possible for marketers to anticipate the needs and desires of consumers even before THEY’RE aware of them. It will recognize patterns in thinking and behavior that will predict what people will want to purchase in the days, weeks and months ahead.

Amazon and other sellers won’t show you the shoes you looked at online yesterday. They’ll introduce you the items you’ll want to buy tomorrow.

Opportunity: Marketing follows prospects everywhere.

Today, marketers use your television, computer, and smartphone to track your activities and deliver coordinated, yet somewhat rudimentary, marketing messages. Imagine taking it to the next level and having the messages served up virtually EVERYWHERE, including billboards, elevator screens, and in-store displays. Advanced tracking technology, databases, and GPS will make it possible — and delivery more sophisticated.

How will salespeople keep up? A cutting-edge sales enablement system, like the one offered by Mobile Locker, will keep reps connected to current marketing efforts and give them instant access to the tools they need to sell today, and decades in the future.

Challenge: Google limits search engine marketing…

Zero-click search results are becoming a “thing”. They’ll be even more so in the decade ahead.

You’ve probably experienced them. A zero-click search result is one where Google directly provides the answer to your search as an automated piece of information. It doesn’t come from a Google-referred outside source.

For example, if you search for the weather in your city, Google will provide you with an answer it creates on its own, not a link to a weather-related website. You have to scroll down to see Google ads and organic search results. Google is rapidly expanding the range of information it self-populates. According to recent estimates, almost two-thirds of Google searches now result in zero-click search results.

That means more and more keyword search results marketers depend on are becoming less and less available or accessible.

There is hope for marketers who depend on search to generate sales. Many of the automatic snippets come from websites that provide information deemed “top tier” by Google. Over the next decade, marketers will need to keep up with this evolution by providing the best and latest content on topics people care about. Or they’ll have to find other ways to build awareness and deliver marketing content.

Opportunity: …While a new search possibility emerges.

Virtual assistants like Alexa support many people’s lives. In the near future, they may run them.

As the artificial intelligence behind technology like Alexa, Siri, and Google Home expands, cutting-edge marketers should be on the lookout for new ways to exploit it.

As keyword possibilities dry up (as covered in the previous section), the new frontier for businesses will be branded advertising and messaging on smart speakers.

What could this look like? Imagine someone asking Alexa for a recipe. The top option that comes up is the one that includes the most branded ingredients from Google advertisers. It’s not all that different from Google ads. It’s simply another way of thinking about search marketing.

Trend: Chatbots become more human.

The written word won’t be going anywhere in 2020. Or beyond. How it’s delivered will.

People looking for information online are open to chat, if it feels like they’re communicating with humans, not machines. That’s something marketers and writers will have to know how to do in the future: Create chat experiences that are information-rich and also seem personal and real.

The next generation of chatbots will need to have personalities and points of view that support brands and deliver engaging and meaningful branded experiences to consumers.

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