It’s not a new one.

Creativity will always be king and marketers, whatever their budget, need to work hard on how they are going to tell their stories in 2018.

But this is in the context of a changed communication landscape with multiple channels, fragmented media and instant, always-on, feedback.

Consumers can avoid advertising by blocking pop-ups on their phones, skipping straight to the next episode on Netflix, and listening to music via streaming services instead of the radio.

They can control which voices they hear on social media, instantly give their verdict or view on a product or service, and be their own brand by producing and managing online profiles.

And it doesn’t end there. Could driverless cars inform you about offers at restaurants and shops as you pass? If your intelligent fridge can recognise that you have been buying healthy food, will it recommend a new brand of butter or margarine to suit your lifestyle? If you can try a holiday destination before you buy through VR, could product placement be used as part of the experience to convince you to buy a certain swimsuit?

The speed of change and number of routes to market can seem bewildering but the focus should remain on creating great content first and then finding the appropriate channels to reach customers with it.

Great creative campaigns will break through the barriers by successfully combining the message with the medium – not a single channel but a relevant mix, to ensure content reaches the target audience in the right place, at the right time.

The challenge for marketers is not to chase trends. There’s no doubt that it is important to know what is current but copying just won’t cut it. Christmas ads are a great example – the fashion for moving and emotionally-driven narratives will surely make way for something new in 2018 and the brand that makes the leap first will benefit most.

Similarly, developments in technology should be embraced but only with an awareness that not every shiny new bit of kit will suit every marketing message.

We should view changes in consumer behaviour as an opportunity to think more creatively and work in new and exciting ways. Whether the issue is a consumer avoiding all advertising or seeing so much it becomes indistinguishable, the solution is the same – a good idea well-executed. And these will come from marketers who work creatively. The investment should be in the idea and not the instrument.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning the new GDPR legislation that’s appearing in May – another landscape-changer for marketers. Not only will we need ‘explicit consent’ but this consent will have to be ‘verifiable’. And the fine for any breach of GDPR is eye-watering – either four per cent of revenue or £17 million, whichever is the greater; this is without taking into account the potential reputational damage that will ensue. So this just reinforces the point that we need to deliver a message that’s stronger, more relevant and more personalised than ever before and in doing so, we will deter consumers from ‘opting-out’.

Here’s to a happy and creative new year!

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