When asked what made him so successful, Wayne Gretzky answered, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”  This is a great analogy for success in business.

More than ever today, the key to business success is to get ahead of the trend. Do not look at other experts, markets, and trends to see where you should be.  Look to where those experts, markets, and trends need to be in the future.

Here at Aim, we have always embraced new ideas and try to see what new ideas will be in demand in the future.  When we are confident in where to position our business in the future, we position ourselves there now.  This takes a leap of faith.  But now more than ever, future successes will go to the companies that are willing to take that leap.

Here are five trends in marketing that may help you see where you need to be today to be in the right place in the future:

1.     Less reading and more graphic, video and audio advertising – More and more, people do not want to read. From our experience and observations, as well as trends that we have followed over many years, it is clear that if people are given a choice of watching a video or reading a newspaper article, they will watch the video.  YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world just behind Google.  If people have the opportunity to listen to a book in audio or read it, more will be listening.

So where should you be with you advertising for the future?  Obviously, less printed word and more pictures, video and audio.

2.     Continued growth of social networking – When people talk about social networking, we usually think of the Internet.  But social networking has always been around in the form of in-person events such as chamber of commerce mixers, trade shows, trade association events, and municipal associations to name just a few. What is changing is not just the way we socialize, but also the importance of socializing.  People today are more cautious about who they do business with and who they get to know.

3.     Use of social media – So what can you do to increase your social reach? First, determine how social networking fits into your business objective. What is more effective: social networking on the Internet or in person? Just about any business should at least have a presence on Facebook. But traditional retail may not find Facebook as effective as in-person events like expositions and in-person promotions. Entertainment-type businesses such as restaurants, amusement parks, or bowling centers may find Facebook very powerful.  Finally, do not confuse social media with other types of Internet marketing. (Collaborative networks such as Wikipedia, blogs and micro blogs such as Twitter, or content communities such as Flicker and YouTube.)  These types of web sites offer a wide variety of ways to market beyond the social aspect.  You can learn more about marketing with these types of Internet sites at our blog at adtalk101.com

4.     Web site design simplified – We believe the most successful web sites will be the ones that are the simplest to use and easiest to find what you are looking for quickly. That’s how Yahoo beat Lycos, Alta Vista and Info Seek. Remember them? Then Google came along and beat Yahoo. Why? Compared to Yahoo, Google loaded faster and was easier to use because it took less effort to figure out how to start searching.  While Google has a ton of good stuff behind the home page, their main search page has almost nothing on it except two buttons: Google Search and I’m Feeling Lucky. Then at the top there is a very simple and easy to understand menu.  With mobile being the single fastest growing segment in the world of digital marketing, busy web sites with everything on the home page including the kitchen sink just will not fly.

If your web site is cluttered, consider simplifying it.  While you want as much relevant content as possible on your site, don’t try to cram it into too few pages.

5.     Spend Less on advertising and more on making your product unique – There was a day when all it took to build a business or increase your existing business was to have a good product or service and buy some ads in the newspaper, radio or TV.  But like Seth Godin explains in his book Purple Cow, it is often cheaper to do something remarkable with your business than to be ordinary and grow your business with traditional advertising.  He offers many examples of businesses that did something remarkable with their product or business, which enabled them to grow their businesses with less advertising.  The reason he gives is a remarkable product or business idea can be grown through a core audience of loyal customers who will spread the word for you.  You’ve heard word of mouth is the best form of advertising.  That certainly is true if it spreads fast enough.  Today, if you create a remarkable product or business, with the help of the Internet, it can be much more economical to spend more on the product or business model and less on traditional advertising methods.

So if you have a business, what can you do to be remarkable?  Ideas that you probably would have rejected because of cost may make sense when you consider the power of the idea, and how little you will need to spend to get it take off. Forty years ago, Hertz, and then Avis, built huge businesses using traditional media. Then Enterprise did something that made the operation of their business more expensive than Hertz and Avis…but it was remarkable. Enterprise Picks You Up. With very little advertising compared to what Hertz and Avis spent 40 years earlier, Enterprise in a very short time grew to three times the size of Hertz, which used to be the number one car rental company in the country.

I hope these suggestions help you in the coming year.  Have a Great 2012.