Future Marketing: 5 Trends that Will Define 2016

Funny thing about the future: Just when you think you can put off worrying about it, bam!, it’s here. So, it is with marketing your practice. After all, 2016 will be here before you know it and, make no mistake, it promises to be a year defined by change. Doctors who understand those changes — and respond accordingly — will be well-positioned for both 2016 and beyond.

Good content is no longer good enough

“Good content” has long been the gold standard of content marketing but the sheer volume of data that crosses the Internet every day means much of it goes unseen. With so many people publishing so many articles, updates, and blog posts, standing out from the crowd will increasingly require a two-step process. First, your content needs to be more interesting and more relevant than everybody else’s and, second, you need to work on distributing it as widely as possible. In this video, Rand Fishkin of Moz.com explains Why Good Unique Content Needs to Die and how to produce content that rises above it.

Snackable Content Will Attract Time-pressed Consumers

It may sound counter-intuitive to the above trend but the reality is that today’s information seeker tends to pursue her initial online research in quick hits — on the bus to work, during her lunch hour, etc. — rather than in long, extended sessions. No doubt she’ll eventually want to delve deeper, reading longer articles and reviews from other patients, etc.; at that point, she’s more likely to follow up with those sources who satisfied her hunger for information earlier in her journey.

Convenience Will Become a High Priority

From Amazon’s 1-Click Ordering to the Buy buttons that are popping up on the major social networks, instant gratification is increasingly the order of the day. Along the way, such tools are also shortening the path from research to purchase and while no one is going to “buy” a facelift or tummy tuck by clicking a button, their expectations of convenience are becoming the norm. Incorporating self-scheduling features into your online marketing, for example, appeals to like-minded aesthetic consumers and can serve as a key differentiator from competitors who require them to call or email.

New media platforms will grab more attention

Despite the seemingly lukewarm interest in the Apple watch and other wearable devices, new technologies are poised to break out in 2016. From podcasting and live-video streaming to the impending debut of Oculus Rift’s virtual-reality headsets, each new development represents another way for people to consume the content they want while avoiding unwanted messages. At this point, it’s way too early to predict how such technologies might be used for marketing; until then, their adoption will make it that much harder to reach people (underscoring, yet again, the need to produce truly compelling content).

Promoting practice values will become more important

With so many choices at their disposal, more people are looking to patronize businesses that share their values. Millennials, in particular, factor a brand’s core values into their purchase decisions — think Toms Shoes, Whole Foods, and the like — so sharing yours is likely to bring benefits. The healthcare marketers at Smith & Jones refer to this as Return on Community, or ROC, and doctors who demonstrate it are likely to see a better ROI, as well.

Considered in aggregate, the above trends represent a continuum from updating longstanding ideas to science fiction-like scenarios. Along the way, they provide insights as to what potential are looking for and how you can adapt your marketing efforts to demonstrate that you’re the one to provide it. As the folks at Smith & Jones put it,

In 2016, aim to make patients’ lives easier, and they’ll reward you for it.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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