It was fun being on the panel recently for the Marketing Seminar Series hosted by the Chamber of Commerce for Entrepreneurs and Small Business. I think my fellow panelists and I painted a colorful picture of today’s marketing landscape and the trends that are impacting it. While the challenges that an entrepreneur faces – such as undeveloped marketing infrastructure, low awareness, and the budget restrictions that come with a start up and little historical data – are different from established organizations, the strategic issues are the same for both.

Despite all the tactical nuances, there are clearly three overriding trends that are driving marketing these days, no matter the size of your business.

1. Whatever Works. Successful advertisers are skipping conventional wisdom in favor of moving the needle any way they can. In this tough economy, necessity is again the mother of invention, in terms of media use, target audience engagement, even promotional offers heretofore unheard of (like free breakfast.) Even the great Cannes Film Festival gave out its first-ever coveted Lion for Effectiveness on June 25 in which the scoring was 25 points for strategy, 25 points for idea and 50 points for results.

2. Take a Back Seat. The consumer is in charge – of your brand, your message and your reputation. In concept, that was always true. But the myriad of avenues for communication and dialogue have now pushed advertisers completely out of the driver’s seat. The pressure is on to make our offerings so attractive, compelling and relevant, that the driver/consumer chooses us.

3. Buddy-up with other Brands. Sharing is perceived as sociable and smart. Collaborating rubs off the attributes of multiple partners onto each other, making the total greater than the sum of its parts – like Intel Inside. By carefully selecting brands that match and extend your own target audience’s beliefs, desires, aspirations, values and attitudes, you can strengthen your reach and impact. Today’s chatty, social, engaged consumers like brands in both the profit and non-profit sector that buddy up on their behalf.

Entrepreneurs and small businesses that are nimble and flexible will be able to embrace these and other trends more quickly than larger companies where change takes longer to accomplish. Many will become business giants – the Googles of 2015 and beyond. The marketing landscape is fertile ground for new ideas.

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