Melbourne-based brand consultant Luke Lazarus has made a name for himself in Australia’s southeastern coast and abroad, proving his expertise managing marketing and growth for businesses around the globe in his two decades of experience building successful brand partnerships. A graduate of Melbourne Business School, Luke Lazarus earned an executive MBA at only 24 years old, creating and selling four successful firms before his 33rd birthday. Now, almost ten years later, Lazarus spends his time as a consultant with new or declining businesses, identifying issues and delivering value to jolt or regain momentum, specifically in marketing endeavors necessary to growth and overall success.
Lazarus cites his greatest strength as a consultant as his ability to identify and market emerging brands and businesses, and his keen eye in prioritizing budgets in these parameters proves him a valuable asset for any emerging business looking for guidance in the startup phase. Luke Lazarus knows that business leaders need partners — especially in the developmental stages of a startup — able to bring this outlook that shapes marketing strategy while identifying, defining and addressing the issues vital to the success of each individual brand.
As we approach the third decade of the new millennium, the way we market to consumers and share content has changed drastically, evolving more in the last 5 years than it ever did in the 50 before. The shift in the digital marketing landscape that encompasses social media, PPC, SEO, and content marketing is profound and ever-changing, while new trends are constantly evolving in the marketplace. Luke Lazarus has made it his mission as a startup consultant to stay at the forefront of emerging marketing trends in order to prove his worth and deliver the best possible results for his growing number of clients, believing that strong brand stories lead to brand recognition and overall success. In building these stories, Lazarus has found somewhat of a niche — a unique ability to craft emotional messaging for new and emerging businesses to define the product and set it apart in the marketplace. Lazarus helps his clients craft messaging that saturates the entire operation with a sense of purpose. For example — Lazarus has often alluded to a company that specializes in building decks: this is not just about supplying new materials for building decks, but it’s more about changing people’s lives, giving them the freedom to spend more time with family in the beautiful outdoors on a new deck all the while investing in their future by way of property value and quality of life. In creating these emotional connections with both stakeholders and customers, Lazarus has become the go-to guy for emerging brands looking to better their own stories, but it’s only by using the right marketing tools for each specific brand that this messaging can come across to the right folks in the right place at the right time.
Once the narrative is laid out, marketing plans begin. Lazarus helps identify the budget and the tools needed to market to the right demographic — but the old days of print, radio, and TV are surely out the door, and a new set of marketing standards lead the industry.
Lazarus defines his strengths as a startup consultant with a few time-honored steps as keys to getting a business started or bringing a startup back on track, helping business leaders define or redefine their plans and projections:
- 1. Business Plans — for any startup, launching or restructuring a new product starts with defining the vision, limitations and financial models. The key to a winning business plan is outlining a product story that can be told very simply to investors, to partners, to employees and customers. “If your product or brand is synonymous with its story, you’ve set the foundation for success,” says Lazarus. Keeping the story simple and flexible allows for growth inside business plans, and Lazarus’ clients can attest to his unique ability to quickly pinpoint the heart of a winning brand or product story.
- 2. Investor Presentations — Lazarus has taken his consultancy to the boardroom for dozens of startup clients, identifying the needs for financial support and linking those needs to compelling, personal brand stories that resonate with these early audiences. With millions of dollars in startup seed money gained through investor presentations in his tenure in consultancy, Luke Lazarus is a proven asset, developing the perfect blend of industry savvy with easy-to-understand, relatable storytelling.
- 3. Market Research Insights — Lazarus helps his clients by identifying segmented markets and customer influence points before launching, citing his strengths on the ever-growing presence of eCommerce as it relates to scalable business models. Using specific primary and secondary research models, Lazarus can help startups to establish buyer personas and analyze the competition.
- 4. Go-to-Market Plans — compiling a coordinated and cost-effective strategy for taking a product or service to market requires a thorough outline for organized sales and marketing programs. Lazarus helps his clients by setting timelines and budgets, outlining the project lifecycle from conception to market strategy.
- 5. Financial Projections — projecting profitability and monitoring the management of cash flow throughout a project is a key component to a startup’s success. Aligning these metrics with the visions outlined in your initial plans ensures consistency and transparency while giving leaders and investors a clear picture of future success.
- 6. Operational Improvement — Lazarus’ own tenure at the helm of multiple startups make him uniquely qualified to assess and diagnose issues centered around business development. By prioritizing these issues and offering key metrics to progress, Lazarus helps startups thrive in new directions, positioning for growth and stability.
Within these steps, Lazarus notes that the meat is in the middle — research on investors and market demographics finalize the brand image and dictate the types of marketing necessary for the business. The consultant has also noted that one of his favorite publications is Start with Why by Simon Sinek: “Sinek looks at the two ways that we’re able to influence human behavior: either through manipulation or through inspiration, arguing that inspiration is more powerful and sustainable. Starting projects with a sense of purpose and figuring out how to answer the ‘WHY?’ first and foremost really forces a business to tell its story.” To create this story, Lazarus says brands need to invest in tried-and-true marketing tactics while also embracing new and emerging trends.
New trends in an ever-evolving marketplace can no longer be ignored. Marketing that worked for a company in 2010 may no longer be best practice in 2019, and detailed market research and target demographics will define where businesses should allocate their budgets. Recognizing the newest trends is the easiest way to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s new and what’s next, and to gain an advantage in a changing marketplace is the only way to stay afloat with any longevity. Lazarus urges new clients to take advantage of these trends before their competitors do — here are the prized consultant’s top 10 emerging trends for marketing brands come 2020:
1. Instagram is Still on Top for 2020: IGTV
As of 2019, Instagram has officially taken over social media. With over 1 Billion active users worldwide, the app owned and operated by Facebook has quickly become a HUGE platform for businesses, using business pages and the new emerging trend of “influencer advertising” to reach new buyers. With great numbers comes great opportunity, and the latest rollout from the IG team is another way brands can take advantage of the ever-growing marketplace. Introduced in June 2018, IGTV is both a standalone app and an in-app feature supported by Instagram that promotes longform video content, rivaling other channels like YouTube while offering the unique feature of vertical video — mimicking the way we use phones in our daily lives and already seeing major use with brands and influencers across the globe.
Instagram has built IGTV to rival and replace other apps — playing content as soon as the app is opened (similar to turning on a TV in a home), and discovering new content is easier than ever. For businesses, IGTV presents a unique way to market their brand, and the fact that IGTV isn’t yet as big as YouTube can actually help businesses that establish themselves as early adopters. Additionally, Instagram’s IGTV is presenting businesses with a new way to team up with influencers, allowing the chance to post videos from unboxing of products, reviews, and how-to videos in longer form (as of Summer ’19, in-app Instagram posts limit video content to only one minute). Using this ad-free platform, huge brands immediately jumped on to the IGTV ship from the moment it launched — from Netflix to Mercedes to Louis Vuitton, you can find content from most major corporations on IGTV, and other brands looking to stand out should adjust their strategies accordingly, extending their presence on both sides of the Instagram world and using video content as a surefire strategy for the years to come.
Chatbots and live chat features aren’t necessarily new technology, but we’re sure seeing a shift in the way these bots are used for marketing purposes. According to SquareUp, 1.4 billion people are interacting with chatbots each year while another 80% of companies say they’re using or plan to use by 2020. Implementing live chat provides better customer service and allows for businesses to have a direct line of communication with their buyers — a feat in which brands are always searching for new methods. Studies show that customers are more likely to use chat features than a support line or searching for an email contact, and the benefits abound: 24 hour service, instant responses, quick answers, easy effective communication between humans, easy complaint resolution, extended customer experience, detailed answers and ease of friendly communication are all cited as direct benefits over other forms of support. Marketers have recognized these advantages and we’re seeing more and more brands act accordingly, implementing live chat features on websites and other business portals.
3. Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning Adaptation
AI has been cited as the primary driver of innovation in many technology fields and is surely driving growth in digital marketing. Many trends on this list are using this technology to their advantage, focusing on streamlining operations and reducing costs, like ROI analysis for PPC advertising, social media sentiment analysis, and chatbot customer services.
AI is often used as an umbrella term to describe technologies that can simulate human intelligence, teaching computers to analyze data to provide requested information, supply analysis, or trigger an event based on its findings, and marketers around the globe are using it to gain valuable insights on their demographics. To best make use of emerging technology, brands need to figure out their target market and how they’re best served. AI will transform marketers from reactive to proactive planners as the enhanced analytics it provides will help to more efficiently plan and execute campaigns in segmentation, tracking, and keyword tagging. While AI will aid in content creation, human creativity in marketing will always be valuable and necessary. Machines will help cut down on production time, but humans are needed for their creative juices in generating editorial and campaign material.
4. Mobile Pay
Mobile payments are here to stay, meaning consumers will more and more use the option to veto their cards and cash in lieu of payments straight from their mobile device, accepted by retailers around the globe. Studies predict that the value of mobile retail payments in the U.S. will exceed $220 billion in 2019 “…in addition to the billions of dollars in transactions conducted through mobile P2P payments, which are expected to converge with other forms of mobile payments as part of the same mobile apps, creating even higher profile targets for criminals.”
Businesses using in-app purchases are booming as fast-food chains and global coffee retailers letting us pay for our treats and drinks from the comfort of our phone and allowing faster access; while customers using mobile payment providers like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay are expected to increase to 760 million by next year.
Both history and current trends show that along with these new opportunities in ease of access, new risks are sure to follow, but institutions shouldn’t hesitate to grab their share of projected market growth as long as they can successfully ensure adequate protection for themselves and the customers they serve; and if your business isn’t ready to adapt to taking these types of payments, you’re surely missing out on possible revenue from a growing number of your customers.
5. Interactive Content
More brands than ever are taking advantage of interactive 360° video content on social media, websites, and blogs, giving users the chance to view an extended area using navigation buttons on the screen, thus increasing engagement metrics. This can be measured by the number of video completions, clicks, and overall engagement rate. 360° video and VR are a preferred new medium for storytelling, provide a new way to immerse audiences in a story versus static 2D images. The first-person view puts the customer in the center of the action with full control over where to look next. Initially used for travel and real estate, 360° video has crossed over into new markets for content campaigns with amazing creative from all types of brands using this immersive media format to engage new audiences.
6. Personalized Recommendations, Customer Profiles & Targeting
Successful brands know how to put the customer first, monitoring behaviors and servicing needs based on those findings. By optimizing this customer experience, brands can enhance the buying process while also boosting revenue. Personalizing the customer experience is a winning strategy, and marketers agree that efforts to personalize advances relationships.
By using and encouraging customized customer profiles, brands can cater to the behaviors and needs of individual customers, and the common consensus among marketers is that customers are perfectly comfortable with you tracking their habits as long as it’s improving their experience. Customers want businesses to identify their needs and make their experiences easy with relevant offers and information.
Using these profiles to segment email subscribers has also proved to be a necessary tactic in providing customers with exactly what they want and need. Collecting email addresses needs to be a priority for your business but personalizing this marketing tactic requires segmented databases in order to deliver relevant content to each individual’s inbox, grouping subscribers by similar metrics like age, geographic location or chosen preferences. Additionally, geotargeting and allowing customers to choose location preferences are a necessary personalized option for brands competing in the global marketplace. Email databases may even be tied to customer loyalty programs to reward consistent engagement or new subscribers. And on the content marketing side, marketers must learn how to write content and email subject lines with a personal message and a specific, personalized call-to-action to drive sales.
Many retailers are taking customer personalization up a notch with features like “favorites” and retail profiles featuring items on hold for later dates and recommending similar products. Using this machine learning, product results are more closely based on customer preferences, narrowing down results for brands with extended offerings.
8. Beacon Tech
Similar to GPS locating, businesses leverage beacon technology to target customers — especially in retail. Using mobile apps to track consumer location, marketers use “beacons” to promote to customers in-store, sending promotions via push notifications tied to relevant products. Ecommerce businesses can use this technology too, even without a physical store by placing beacons in public spaces relevant to company offerings. By using targeted push notifications, companies can remind customers where and when and why it’s time to buy.
As popularity grows for mobile apps and demand for greater smartphone capabilities grow, brands will put more marketing dollars into mobile apps and ecommerce, and younger customers are adapting to this technology at rates faster than ever.
8. Social Media Advertising
While the concept of social media advertising isn’t new, marketers are using platforms in different ways to how consumers interact with their brands, and usage is at an all-time high as Facebook and Instagram ads lead the game.
To survive and stay relevant in the modern era, it’s necessary for businesses to have an active presence on social media, and in this realm, Facebook is king with more than 2.38 billion monthly active users (MAU) as of March 31, 2019, and 60+ million active business profiles — the vast majority of these paying for advertising.
In a perfect world, you’d be converting your social media followers into customers, but marketing strategy on these platforms is a bit trickier than meets the eye, oftentimes not reaching target audiences. The success of using these platforms for advertising can vary between businesses but is mostly dependent on how you set up these audiences. There is an overabundance of studies and research in this realm, but the common consensus points to viewing followers by way of CLV, or “customer lifetime value.” This number reflects the amount of money a customer spends at your business before they leave it — simply put — the longer a customer stays with your business over time, the more profitable they become for the business. If you’re not using this metric to help you make decisions, it could be an extremely costly mistake. Take the time to evaluate your following and invest in engagement with an audience considered to be the highest producing CLV.
As advertising on Facebook and Instagram is on the rise, other social platforms are flatlining or declining in ad revenue; and, since Facebook now owns Instagram, it’s easier than ever to manage marketing on both platforms from a single dash.
9. Voice Search
Studies suggest there will be an estimated 21.4 million smart speakers in the US by 2020 along with 50% of searches done off-screen, and the rise of Amazon Echo and Google Home have created a new market for brands to get in on a piece of the pie. Voice search is voice recognition technology that allows people to perform searches by speaking into a device, and to evolve with this technology, it will be necessary for brands to align digital marketing strategy with the sudden surge in this technology. A 2019 study found that only 4 percent of U.S. businesses with a physical location are voice search ready, and the reality is that you’re probably in the other 96 percent.
Voice search improves the user experience of search engines (by being faster and more convenient) and provides more accurate results. To grow with the trend, businesses must effectively optimize content (particularly for mobile use). With voice search on the rise and Google’s new mobile-first index — which bases rankings off of the mobile version of a site instead of the desktop version — early adopters of voice search SEO will very well be the businesses at the forefront of this landscape.
10. Predictive Analysis
Predictive analysis extracts information from existing data sets to determine patterns and predict future outcomes and trends. Marketers use this data to determine customer behaviors and position their products accordingly depending on who and where. Most businesses have yet to tap into predictive analysis in its purest form using customer data, but digital marketing can benefit in a major way from machine-derived data that determines: effective advertising; outcomes to marketing campaigns, channels, touches, behaviors, and demographics; customer response; probability of user engagement; which leads will convert; which customers will buy; and lifetime value, among others.