Marketing in 2013 According to ASAE

This article originally appeared in the January 2013 edition of the Marketing GPS Newsletter.

The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE)’s Annual Technology Conference in Washington, DC last month highlighted three emerging marketing trends for 2013.

  • Social: According to keynote speaker Brian Solis, author of The End of Business as Usual, leveraging “the Connected Generation” (or “Generation C”) means joining it.
  • Mobile: Competing for attention now means delivering platform-specific contextual relevance.
  • Big Data: As content explodes, analyzing large data sets may be the most important engine for productivity and differentiation in 2013 and beyond.


Brian Solis’ introductory remarks included a YouTube video with now over 4 million views depicting a frustrated baby trying to zoom and pinch on a magazine, eventually dismissing it as a “broken iPad.” He made the case that this is iconic of Generation C, which is losing (or, in the case of its youngest members, never really had) a conception of what it’s like to be unconnected. This is a sea change, so it’s ironic that, as ASAE CIO Reggie Henry noted, “Our budgets are set as if we believe everything is just business as usual.”

Brian Solis went further: Not only do we need infrastructure to deliver anytime/anywhere, instant and relevant information, but we, as organizations and as individuals, need to be as connected as the audience we seek. He’s right.

Too many employees at too many organizations consider messaging, and social media in particular, to be someone else’s responsibility: The Communication Department’s, the vendor’s, the floor admin’s. “It couldn’t be mine,” they reason, “because I’m too busy and lack the expertise,” as if anyone on staff at all would have foresight, time and expertise in a field so new and growing so quickly.

Social media is best done shared, and if you’ve never used your organization’s Facebook page in the context of others, you can never really know how relevant it is or isn’t. If it’s not relevant, it doesn’t warrant attention, you lose your audience, and your “audiences of audiences.” Then Generation C tosses you away like a magazine. (And this is not something they’ll simply outgrow—in fact, many members of Generation C are elderly, one of the fastest growing social demographics.)

Generation C members of all ages, according to The End of Business as Usual, are judiciously earning and spending social capital, trading privacy for engagement and personalization, and, in the process, becoming influencers, tastemakers and market makers. Such a level of connectivity requires constant sifting. If you’re not relevant, you’re noise.


The emerging mobile marketing trend as identified by ASAE’s Technology Conference is related: It’s not enough to simply have relevant content, but relevant delivery as well. Brian Solis argues that content no longer reigns because “context is now king.” To be truly relevant, content—once sufficient in itself as a destination (e.g., of web searches)—must now be delivered to audience members in a manner appropriate to their situations. The best technology to deliver this contextual relevance that fits the recipient’s circumstances is a mobile platform.

Bob Farrace, Director of Communications for the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and I spoke in detail about this aspect of mobile marketing. Specifically, mobile phone users spend more than 80% of their time on apps. One-size-fits-all mobile friendly sites, let alone mobile-unfriendlysites, are simply not as contextually relevant.

Associations are realizing this: According to “US Associations’ Use of Mobile Applications in 2012: Benchmarks and Practices,” One Orange Feather’s survey (conducted in mid-2012), 22% of the 250 participating associations had a mobile app. The average amount of their current IT budget that associations had allocated to mobile apps was 13%, with more than half (55%) to include app development in their next budget. (If you would like to learn more about association app spending from our ASAE Tech presentation “Navigating the Politics of the Mobile App,” just reply to this email, and we’ll send it to you.)

Big Data

So with more and more organizations joining Generation C to deliver contextually relevant content to their audiences of audiences, the volume of content is skyrocketing: The same volume of content created in all of 2002 is now created every week. Enter Big Data, the science of mining all that content for useful information.

Many attendees agreed that this may be one of the biggest changes in 2013, with many more marketing resources diverted to software and database expertise just to make marketing decisions. The good news, though, is that these more expensive decisions should be better. Brian Solis quoted a Gartner study that technology spend by CMOs is set to outpace that of CIOs by 2017. We marketers must now brush up on our math skills, and some database engineering classes wouldn’t hurt either.

But, first, we need to anticipate some of these changes, or even that there will be some changes. We must realize that this affects content plans, platform development, budgets, social habits, hiring and training, so let’s think this through carefully. After all, as Brian Solis warned, “Blockbuster didn’t reallymismanage itself; it just didn’t check its assumptions.”

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About NSI Partners

A digital marketing company with almost two decades of experience, NSI Partners helps clients achieve robust results in search marketing, social media, and other digital marketing spaces.

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