Startup Marketing Smarts: Podcasts, visual storytelling will be hot trends in 2016

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What’s ahead for startup marketing in 2016? Which trends will impact your B2B startup?

In many cases, it will be more of the same: content marketing, social marketing and storytelling. If there is an underlying theme, it may be agility, flexibility and the ability to capitalize on opportunities to stand apart in an increasingly noisy world.

Yet there are some trends that will bubble up higher to the surface, whether your B2B firm is involved in marketing, social, tech, or software.

Here are some key trends to keep an eye on next year.

Visual storytelling

In 2015, storytelling established itself as the new, hot marketing trend. Suddenly, companies discovered they had to be creative, engaging and entertaining if they wanted to capture the attention of time-strapped clients.

In 2016, storytelling will remain important but it is evolving with the emergence of visual storytelling. A good example is cinemagraphs, which are photographs that feature small and repeated movement occurs. Toronto-based Flixel has become one of the leading cinemagraph players as its technology is being used by brands such as America’s Top Model and A&E.

Instagram is another visual storytelling vehicle being enthusiastically embraced by brands that recognize the power of photographs and videos to engage consumers. Another fast-growing player is Canva, which has levelled the playing field by making it easier and cheaper to create visual storytelling assets such as graphics and infographics.

Marketing automation

As brands look for ways to scale and drive efficiencies, marketing automation has become a must-have platform, particularly among medium and large sized companies. In 2016, more companies, including small businesses and startups, will embrace marketing automation.

In simple terms, marketing automation allows you do more with less. Don’t be surprised to see the emergence of low-cost marketing automation platforms to make it easier for startups to get on the bandwagon (Note: An inexpensive option is Hatchbuck)

Marketing automation will also move into new verticals beyond inbound and outbound marketing. Limelight (full disclosure: a client), for example, recently launched a marketing automation platform for live events such as trade shows, test drives and VIP events.

Podcasts

Just when it looked like podcasts looked antiquated, they have come roaring back to life. Their newfound sexiness may have to do with the popularity of podcasts such as Startup and Serial,, or it could be that forward-thinking businesses are looking for ways to be different and interesting.

Whatever the reason, podcasts are hot because they provide startups with the opportunity to tell stories to a captive audience. PostBeyond is a startup that has jumped on the podcast bandwagon. Check out one of its recent podcasts here.

Also, as Fast Company wrote, the payoff for advertisers is enormous—one survey of 300,000 podcast listeners found that 63 percent bought something a host had promoted on a show.

Personalized content marketing

It was not that long ago that firms were told they had to become publishers. As a result, a growing number of brands are creating content to point where the market is being overwhelmed.

This isn’t to suggest content marketing is losing its appeal. Instead, content will need to be personalized so it is relevant and topic to specific consumers. This personalization will be driven by data collection and aggregation, which will provide startups with in-depth insight into a consumer’s needs and interest.

Some other trends to watch in 2016 include data (yes, Big Data is getting bigger!), mobile and influencer marketing (keep an eye on Toronto-based Influitive, fast becoming a market leader) as startups look for different ways to capture the spotlight.

What do you see as the leading startup marketing trends in 2016?

Photo via Flickr, Creative Commons

 

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Mark Evans

Mark Evans

Mark Evans help startups and fast-growing companies tell better stories (aka marketing). His strength is delivering “foundational” strategic and tactical services, specifically core messaging, brand positioning, marketing strategies and content creation. Find him via his blog