2019 Marketing Spend Trending Toward Technology Over People

Image credit NicoElNino /

According to Gartner’s ”CMO Spend Survey 2018-2019,” Chief Marketing Officers(CMOs) are moving to spend more on technology in 2019 than on staffing. Marketing technology (martech) this coming year will experience a seven percent increase over 2018 with staff costs declining from 27 percent to 23 percent. The moveaway from human investment to tech appears to be influenced by the desire to measure the real impact of total marketing costs on the bottom line. Digital analytics, content management and email marketing are shaping up to win a larger share of marketing budgets in 2019. The ease by which digital marketing can be measured against revenue is a significant factor for its predicted growth.

Nielson’s 2018 CMO report indicates 82 percent of marketers will increase their digital marketing spend in 2019. Content, often considered“King,” will gravitate to the center of the entire marketing universe. As metrics become more defined, content will focus on personalization and qualityof message over quantity and strive to refine the delivery of the right message to the right target audience.     

Chatbots are poised to receive more attention as marketers attempt to better understand consumer insights into brand messages and campaigns. Listening to the audience and reducing the quantity of messages seeks to alleviate much of the over-abundance of noise. Alternative search will become more important in 2019 as the popularity of voice search among tech hungry consumers motivates marketers to reevaluate and reinvigorate their organic search efforts.

Alpine data indicates that by 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be done verbally and Garner predicts that 75 percent of all households will soon have a smart speaker. The coming year will see an increased investment in voice search technologies in response to the anticipated disruption to traditional search platform methods.

The importance of protecting user data has been demonstrated thoroughly in 2018. As consumers and online users experienced the careless selling and sharing of personal data, they have been quick to recount their discontent with market actors who fail to properly handle their private information. Cyber security will continue to be a prominent line item in marketing budgets of small and large companies going forward. The trend towards technology over people is understandable as organizations focus efforts on optimizing the bottom line, but the enthusiasm for this trend should be tempered by a healthy realization that forces in the marketplace tend to be volatile and difficult to predict solely based on past measured performance. A successful marketing strategy will allow for humans to subjectively challenge machine generated assumptions and respond to the ever-changing forces in the marketplace.

Influencer Marketing Trending Up for 2019

Image credit: paulaphoto /

According to Am Golhar, founder of Abstract PR, there are an estimated 1.5 million influencers in the digital communication world, and approximately 71% of Generation Z’s digital users have a close relationship with at least one influencer. With Instagram leading the influencer journey, many marketers are lamenting the importance of increasing marketing spend on influencing customers via social media platforms.

Launched in 2010, Instagram continues to grow at a remarkable pace. Just a little moret han 7 years of age, the visual social media platform has surpassed 800 million monthly users and is not only attracting individual social conversations but is proving its worthiness to marketers looking to grow brand awareness and showcase products. With 51 percent of users indicating that they visit the site daily and 70 percent using the platform to search brands, influencer marketing is proving itself as an authentic method to connect with potential customers. Influencer marketing content is delivering an 11 times higher return on investment (ROI) than traditional forms of digital marketing.

Generation Z consumers are proving to be much more active and reactive to social media outlets like YouTube and Instagram than former generations. Businesses need to establish an effective and targeted strategy to engage with this new generation of consumers in order to grab their share of the next big consumer market. In the coming year, influencers will continue to increase their impact on marketing efforts for businesses of all sizes. Participants will continue to focus efforts on specific geographical market segments with targeted and quality content.

The trend in 2019 will require an even greater command for authenticity and transparency as the initial exuberance of the new shiny marketing tool meets with the greater reality across all marketing channels.  Consumers say they trust social networks to guide them to purchase decisions, but some of that trust is being worn away by paid influencers who fail to make important financial disclosures that exist between their content and the brands they are reviewing. 52% are expressing distaste for repetitive advertising offers that are being pitched this holiday season by influencers.  With nearly 54% of consumers indicating “reliability” concerns about some current influencer content, User Generated Content (UGC) is set to receive more attention from marketers in the year ahead. Joe Rohrlich, from Bazaarvoice says, “Today’s consumers are looking to corroborate what they see or hear in one place with the information they find elsewhere.”

Social media influencer marketing is a natural technological segue from the long tested and tried method of “word of mouth” advertising. The former one to one approach to connecting with an expanding audience is being amplified by the internet’s “one to many” social media environment. In a global survey of consumers, Nielsen found that ”83% of consumers trust the recommendations of friends and family over other forms of advertising.”  In 2019 successful brands will find a way to utilize this expansive amount of customer content.

To learn how Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) can help refine and improve your influencer marketing strategy, call 678-686-1125 today.

Is a Partnership the Answer to Expansion and Growth?


The demands of running a business can sometimes be difficult for even the most experienced professionals. Whether at the start-up phase of a new venture or at some point during the life cycle of an existing business, demands often lead to an owner bringing on a partner.  Partnerships  can provide additional capital to improve operational flexibility and more potential for growth; spread the responsibility for operations and decision making and reap advantages of combined skills and experience.  The exchange of opinions and ideas allows business owners to expand on already good ideas or replace poor ones. A business run by multiple talents and visions significantly increases opportunities for expansion, and ultimately higher profits and creating a partnership can also enhance motivation, morale and personal responsibility. But the opportunities can also welcome risks.

Selecting a partner begins with identifying those who have a common desire and commitment to the strategic goals of the business and who are trustworthy and share a reputation for personal integrity. Clearly identify the expectations of each partner and the percentage of ownership for the business at the outset.  Document all the terms of the partnership agreement in advance and perform meticulous due diligence before implementing the agreement. Establish specific individual protections and a clear exit strategy for the partnership at the outset.   Preparing for those things that can and will go wrong in advance may result in huge benefits to resolving disputes down the road.

Common pitfalls to avoid include:

The thrill is gone.

In addition to making money, so much of the satisfaction of business ownership is related to setting ambitious goals and then achieving them. If partners can’t find a way to reenergize their commitment and look forward and tap into the opportunistic soul of an entrepreneurial partnership, it’s time to call it a day.

Differences in the equity split.

Resenting the equity split can often be the first sign of fracturing in a partnership. Perceived differences in the compensation to performance relative to the agreed equity split can derail a partnership quickly.

Unresolved internal disagreement and bickering.

When a company’s leadership is distracted by petty grievances, competitors have a perfect opportunity to steal away their best customers and employees lose focus on their responsibility to the success of the company. The energy lost on ongoing difference of opinion will affect business performance.

Disagree on spending priorities.

How a company invests its cash in new product development, marketing, customer service and personnel is directly related to an organizations performance and success. When partners feud, spending decisions are no longer made in terms of what will advance a company in a profitable way but favor initiatives that might advance the authority of one partner over the other partner.

Loss of trust and mutual respect.

The most destructive situation for any business partnership is the loss of trust between individual partners.

Employees, vendors and customers eventually take notice to a dysfunctional environment.  Customers will discreetly seek out other service options. Employees will spend more time gossiping than working.  The longer it takes confront and solve partnership conflicts, the less a company will be worth to the partners or potential business buyers.

Successful partnerships thrive on their ability to confront difference of opinions on strategy and decision making that result in mutual solutions that strengthens the organization; fosters an environment of open communication, engagement, execution and sets forth clear divisions of the individual partner’s roles and responsibilities. Properly formed and effectively executed, a business partnership can open opportunities for continued growth and profitability while greatly enhance individual fulfillment.

Junction CEO To Speak on Creating Better Customer Experiences on Panel at Two-Part Financial Marketers’ Conference

This week, Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) CEO Julie Gareleck is slated to represent her firm at two important financial marketing industry events in New York City. The Journal of Financial Advertising and Marketing (JFAM) is presenting back-to-back days encouraging the top minds in strategic financial media to share best practices and promote thought leadership.

First gathering at the legendary Le Cirque for a private reception on the evening of March 13th, a panel of senior marketers from influential brands including Vanguard, TD Ameritrade, Citi, and PIMCO will discuss Strategic Customer Connections in Financial Services. Clara Shih, CEO of Hearsay Social and Corporate Board Member of Starbucks, will be on hand to deliver keynote remarks.

Next, on the morning of March 14th, the tenth annual JFAM Live! Financial Marketer’s Conference will bring together leaders from across the financial services marketing industry as The Gramercy Institute, publisher of JFAM, presents findings from an extensive study on ‘Transformative Marketing,’ a significant trend for 2013. The research includes insights culled from a detailed survey and interviews with high-ranking marketers from the world’s leading financial brands.

Featured during this event will be 5 panel discussions covering subjects related to the findings of the Institute’s research. Gareleck will join other experts, including representatives from PricewaterhouseCoopers and Prudential, to talk about crafting customer experiences that strategically speak for the brand in ways compatible with marketing messages. Other panels will tackle topics including internal marketing strategies leveraging employees, the role of innovation and new tools in financial services marketing, and the importance of company culture as financial brands rebuild their reputations.

“These two events will bring together some of the most progressive, plugged-in minds in the financial services marketing world to take a good look at the state of the industry,” says Gareleck. “Continuing this conversation is a key component of knowing where we stand as marketers, and where we should be going next. I am very much looking forward to sharing the stage with some of the industry’s sharpest minds to contribute Junction’s philosophies on how to get more out of marketing in 2013.

Registration for the events is still open. More information about Junction is available at

BYOD – Power to the People

In recent years, companies have been effectively mobilizing clients and colleagues to participate in the marketing conversation. Through this kind of ambassadorship, businesses are more effectively spreading B2B brand messages via various peer-to-peer (P2P) techniques.

Because of this trend, as mobile continues to explode, it has been reinvigorating B2B efforts, with more of these brand-carrying employees working off of their own laptops, smartphones, and tablets thanks to the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement. With BYOD practices, employees are allowed or even encouraged to bring personally-owned mobile devices to the workplace and use them to access privileged company information. Aside from some risks related to data security, BYOD has been lauded for making workers comfortable with the devices they are spending the most time with, translating to happier and more productive employees.

As devices continue to become more capable and more readily available, members of the workforce are better connected than ever before. Now, B2B marketers are finding ways to make this new level of mobility even smarter.

BYOD is one of many results of the consumerization of IT, in which consumer preferences are driving the adoption of new technologies instead of corporate interests. International advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather reported that executives perform more mobile searches from personal devices today than they did from company computers a year ago. The same report suggested that the BYOD movement has enabled B2B mobile in-app advertising to engage its audience as well as the highest profile B2C advertising categories, like retail or automotive. These preferences and user behaviors are precisely the activity that B2B marketers have been after in the years since employees emerged as more powerful brand assets; getting through to a brand’s people is vital, and it is becoming easier to build those connections.

BYOD has become prominent enough that entire mobile strategies have been redesigned to fit the requirements of having more personalized technology in the hands of workers. Messages and applications must be tailored appropriately.  By delivering dynamic, interactive content to prospects, the experience shifts from ‘presenting the information’ to having a real conversation. The individuals, not the enterprise, have become the final decision makers.

A New Era in the Agency/Marketer Relationship

As businesses move forward in the new year, they are facing an environment that is fraught with change, significant economic uncertainty, and a vast array of new technologies in communications and marketing; a continually fragmented marketing economy.  It shouldn’t be surprising that marketers and their agencies are about to experience fundamental changes in their relationship.  Traditional time-tested marketing agency models are under notice that significant change in organizational structure, products and services, and marketers’ expectations are upon them.

To gain insight into what changes are on the horizon, one only needs to ask the marketers (clients) what they will be expecting from their agency in the coming year, a seemingly elementary approach and investigatory tool that has escaped routine practice in many marketer/agency relationships in the recent past. Marketers today are expecting their agency to be a jack-of-all-trades, but also expect them to stay true to their core expertise, conflicting expectations that will require a newly expanded relationship to be built on collaboration between marketer, agency, and industry partners who will provide services outside the scope of the agency. Finding an avenue to facilitate and manage this new approach becomes a critical piece to the “Team” puzzle.

Expectations from the client will continue to center on the quality of relationships that emphasize the team’s understanding of the business and taking pride in the work, fostering proactive leadership and insight, and a steady stream of creative ideas and executions. Marketers will command team stability, increased responsiveness, and consistent, predictable deliverables.

While the death of the traditional agency model has been approaching rapidly for some time, tighter budgets and increased competition have forced alternative business models into in the execution stage. McCann-Erickson’s incoming agency chief executive, Ben Lilley, has slashed middle and senior management roles, saying ”A clear delineation between suits, creative and production, is a very old-hat way of thinking about agencies,” he said. ”Technology has forced our industry to evolve, and obviously that means that agencies need to evolve as well.”

To continue to be successful, agencies will need to become better about listening and learning about their clients’ business. And as the new relationship matures, the model will need to continue to change and adjust to provide an ever-increasing level of value to the client.

Contributions from both sides will be necessary to establish mutual trust. Seek out and offer honest assessments of expectations and performance. Provide real answers and solutions. Encourage flexible approaches to challenges. Most importantly, share a commitment to achieving mutual marketer/agency goals and objectives.

Go Fish

The latest phenomenon to hit reality TV is, thankfully, something a bit more substantial than Jersey Shore. MTV’s Catfish follows people who have dated on the internet, but never met in real life. The term ‘catfish’ refers to one or both of the parties creating a false persona online, pretending to be someone they are not.

The idea of documenting these individuals originated with the 2010 documentary of the same name, which followed several couples who had been together for years before meeting face-to-face. The practice is becoming increasingly commonplace on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, with motivations ranging from the need to feel wanted or appreciated to harassing others for fun. To some degree, everyone puts up a façade online, but we are learning that the problem runs far deeper than white lies and playful misdirection.

In our modern world, technology has made us more connected, but ‘catfishing’ is an example of how many members of society have responded by actively distancing themselves from one another.  It turns out creating a fake identity online is incredibly commonplace; some sources estimate that there may be as many as 83 million fake Facebook accounts. With the large majority of the world’s personal and professional communications now occurring online, one has to wonder how many catfish we interact with every day.

Hook, Line, and Sinker

Just last month, the story of Notre Dame standout linebacker Manti Te’o and his involvement in a catfish-style ‘hoax’ brought the scenario into the spotlight. Even the Heisman Trophy candidate, with the full attention of the media, was unable to avoid the perils of this bizarre trend, exposing some serious implications of placing trust in an online persona.

Thanks to the TV show and the Te’o saga, Americans are gaining a far better understanding of the risks involved with shifting our everyday interactions into the online space. For businesses, evaluating this new lay of the land in social media has become an important part of the agenda, as marketers spend valuable budget distributing messages to millions of social citizens who may not be who they say they are. Discovering who the audience really is, behind the mask, will help businesses avoid falling victim to the same mistakes as those who were baited and hooked before.

The Hat Trick

A little over 2 months into the a lockout between the National Hockey League and its players, the results of a public opinion poll were published in an editorial in Canada’s The Globe and Mail suggesting that the league’s brand had suffered damage equivalent to or even worse than British Petroleum (BP) following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion.

On Sunday, the league and the Players’ Association reached a tentative agreement to end the lockout and begin the 2012-2013 season, but the immediate response from fans was not uniformly enthusiastic. For the generally rabid followers of the fast-paced sport, which doesn’t typically get the same media attention as the other 3 major North American professional sports leagues, the feelings of the moment are summed up by disinterest at one end of the spectrum, and betrayal at the other.

The NHL's customers, the fans, joined players in being 'locked out' from their beloved game.

Considering the loyalty and passion of the sport’s fanbase, it doesn’t seem too surprising that Level5 Strategy, the firm behind the research, would suggest that the NHL has truly committed such a serious grievance against its customers. The people who watch the sport on television, buy tickets to games, and fill their homes with merchandise have had their trust in the league severely breached. Following its catastrophic oil spill, BP put in a serious effort to initiate cleanup, pay out damages to affected citizens and businesses, and ultimately agreed to pay the enormous fines that resulted.

It is highly unlikely that the NHL will do anything but move on as if nothing happened at all.

This most recent lockout marked the third under current commissioner Gary Bettman, a figure employed by the league but frequently maligned by the fans. For more than a decade, die hard followers of the sport have called for change, citing Bettman as an ineffective leader, detrimental to the game of hockey. The league is fundamentally a business, focused primarily on creating a quality product to generate revenues, a fact sometimes forgotten or intentionally ignored by the fans, but this latest development and the toll it has taken on the reputability and integrity of the league should be enough for the owners to realize how important the management of that brand truly is.

Many fans will reluctantly return to the rink to watch the game they love, supporting the NHL in spite of the frustration that the lockout has caused. Under Bettman, the league has more than tripled its annual intake of ‘hockey-related revenue,’ and notwithstanding the losses accrued from 3 months off from the regular season, might still be on track to continue growing richer over the next 10 years of the new collective bargaining agreement. All of that success is placed in serious jeopardy, however, should the owners fail to recognize that its customers are the lifeblood of the business, a fundamental truth across all industries. The NHL brand faces a long road back from the damage suffered during the tenure of its current commissioner. It must take measures to win back the trust of the fans, or die.

How Can You Be So Insensitive?

We often discuss how brands must be much more personal to create equity in the age of social media, but when the relationship between brand and consumer becomes so intimate, the negative impact of a breach of trust can be exponentially greater than ever before.

Hurricane Sandy was an opportunity for social media to show off some of its best sides; Facebook and Twitter played a large role in preventing unnecessary injuries and loss of life during the storm, enabling real time communications that aided evacuation and served as a primary informational resource for those stranded or without power. The hashtag #SMEM (or Social Media Emergency Management) has been picking up steam in recent years, as more people and public safety organizations realize the value of these networks in times of emergency; Sandy was a resonating proof of concept.

Social media also has served the citizens of the affected areas in the aftermath of the storm. Awareness for the needs of aid groups like the Red Cross is at an all time high, making relief more efficient. Local communities are leveraging their networks to organize cleanup and rebuilding initiatives. The power of these tools mean that our nation will face future disaster level events far better prepared than ever before.

On the other side of the coin, there were some severe missteps by brands communicating via social media platforms during the storm that just didn’t sit right with many individuals. In an age where we have the ability to geotarget messaging, it was unnecessary for Groupon and LivingSocial to offer its latest great deals for restaurants that were closed without electricity, or the attractions that would be closed for the next week dealing with water damage from flooding. Gap and American Apparel both touched a nerve with communications about shopping during the storm. Furthermore, the storm arrived just before Halloween, and some Tweeting businesses failed to understand that most residents of New York and New Jersey weren’t exactly feeling up to partying late into the night. In the moment, many brands simply did not exercise common sense.

It is crucial to avoid mistakes like these that can destroy loyalties so easily in an increasingly volatile marketplace. Businesses would benefit far more from sending one less tweet and steering clear of insensitivity. Social media is about conversation; brands must avoid faux-pas like these to keep relationships strong.

Tapping into the TRUST Fund

Tapping into the TRUST Fund

In our modern marketing economy, trust has become paramount in communications, and an integral component of relationships between businesses and consumers. These days, trust is engendered primarily by our peers, with social media serving as a cornerstone in the foundation of those relationships thanks to its rapidly growing influence.

In 2012, social media has come to permeate our lives to a great degree. As an outlet for marketing and advertising, networks like Facebook and Pinterest have become some of the most effective and popular ways to generate business, rivaling or even surpassing the power of the search engines that previously guided the large majority of visibility in the marketplace. A social media advertising campaign fundamentally demands that a brand relinquish control and submit to the power of its followers, but the formula isn’t as simple as just letting go.

Social media is conversational by nature, but it still affords authority to brands. Often times, it is the brand that starts the conversation that disperses through a network of peers. This power entails a new kind of responsibility for brands in terms of creating a consistent, constant, and well-thought out message in order to be effective without being overbearing or burdensome. The power of the network is undeniable; what a brand says will affect its audience to a great degree, so it is crucial to carefully measure communications to ensure a positive impact.

Such is the case in Financial Marketing, an industry presently under the microscope when it comes to issues of trust. The kind of trust that facilitates effective use of social media has been so severely damaged by the actions of financial institutions in the past 5 years that marketers’ main challenge is not to sell a product or service, but rather to simply regain the confidences of its once-loyal audience. Taking the time to ensure that all communications originating from the company on social networks positively reflect the brand will have an exponential effect as the message disseminates across the network from peer to peer.

With social media, the dynamic has changed. People have been appointed with the power to dictate the dialogue that long belonged to the brands. Tap into the trust of this set and leverage their collective voice to generate a stronger message than ever.