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Darcy Grabenstein Jan 3

8 Trends Destined to Impact Marketing in 2017

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Annodyne T-shirt design

Yes, it’s time for the obligatory end-of-year trends blog post. Typically, these posts focus on topics such as marketing trends for the coming year.

I’d like to take a slightly different approach. I’ll be looking at upcoming trends and their impact on marketing.

1. Virtual Reality

Like it or not, virtual reality (VR) is here to stay. So are its counterparts, augmented reality and mixed reality. If you’re confused, you’re not alone. This video explains the difference between all three concepts.

How this impacts marketing:

For travel marketers, VR can be at once a blessing and a curse. On the positive side, VR can be used to give prospective visitors a real taste of what they can experience at a tourist destination. On the negative side, prospects who “visit” a place via VR may feel they can skip the real thing. It’s up to marketers to use VR selectively, giving prospective tourists just enough of a preview to make them want to see it all in real time.

2. Anonymous Consumers

TrendWatching refers to this as Incognito Individuals. Lest you jump to the conclusion that big data is “so yesterday,” think of it more as a deconstructing of data. On the one hand, the article notes, you’ve got non-traditional audience segments. On the other hand, you’ve got companies marketing to a “segment of one” at a mass scale.

 How this impacts marketing:

Non-traditional audience segments (TrendWatching cites the first male face of Covergirl as a case in point) must be taken into consideration when developing marketing campaigns. Once you’ve defined your segments, then you need to create ultra-targeted content to meet that segment’s needs. With all the data at our disposal, you’re doing your audience a disservice if you rely on mass marketing.

3. Love for Millennials

Inc. magazine says that businesses will begin to embrace Millennials instead of rejecting them. The stereotypes of selfishness and materialism will fall by the wayside.

This mindset is particularly important in higher ed marketing, where Millennials make up a majority of the audience. And in terms of graduate education, where Millennials are becoming a larger part of the demographic, marketers must shift gears in order to appeal to this segment.

4. Drones

Fortune predicts that drones will be increasingly used to make deliveries of fast food and similar items. While the FAA has eased up on restrictions for drone use, companies still face significant limitations.

How this impacts marketing:

For companies that deliver products, drones take quick, personal service to a whole new level (pun intended). Careful messaging will be needed to overcome consumers’ fears of drones, particularly fears surrounding privacy and safety issues, and focus on how the benefits far outweigh the risks.

5. On-demand work

According to a Forbes article referencing a prediction by the World Economic Forum, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is underway. Both workers and customers are freeing themselves from the traditional 9-to-5 workday.

How this impacts marketing:

There will be an abundance of freelancers, available to agencies and other businesses that typically hire them. A glut of freelance talent could cause rates to drop, and agencies can pass those savings along to their clients. Agencies that once shied away from hiring freelancers might find it cost-effective to do so. In addition, remote employees will be more commonplace, allowing agencies to remove geographical constraints, expand their staffs with top candidates and hire talent with the skills that match specific projects.

6. Patients as partners

Pharma will have a new strategic partner: patients. PwC Health Research Institute’s annual report says that pharmaceutical companies will better engage with patients in the coming year. Patients, faced with higher medical insurance deductibles, will be demanding better value from their prescriptions.

How this impacts marketing:

Pharmaceutical companies will need to forge more meaningful connections with patients. In order to do so, they must better understand their customer base. At Annodyne, we’ve helped pharma clients do this by mapping the customer journey and launching social listening initiatives. We’ve also created closed online communities that serve as a support group and a three-way source of information among the pharma company, patients and healthcare providers.

7. Less is more

Call it what you want — retro, nostalgia, form simplification, minimalism — the more people are
inundated in their lives with technology, the more they retreat to simplistic themes. Annodyne’s most
recent T-shirt design, shown above, is a nod to the nostalgic look. And it’s no surprise that logo design trends for 2017 harp on simplicity.

Pantone Greenery

Even Pantone’s color of the year for 2017, Greenery, reflects this trend. In choosing this color, Pantone noted: “The more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in the physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world.”

How this impacts marketing:

For marketers of environmentally friendly products and services, this trend is good news. Marketers of any product/service should use technology prudently, not just for the sake of technology itself. Designs should be clean, copy clear and concise. The glut of promotional content people are exposed to on a daily basis means that advertisers who cut back on bells and whistles may garner more attention in the long run.

8. The voice of Middle America

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the election’s impact on marketing. If we learned anything from Election 2016, it’s that Middle America — which felt marginalized for a long time — finally found its voice and is demanding to be seen and heard.

How this impacts marketing:

Marketers must understand the pain points of this segment of American society and address them in an authentic manner. Anything less will be looked upon with disdain.

So there you have it. The upcoming year will be filled with immense challenges and opportunities for marketers. Let the games begin.

Darcy Grabenstein is senior copywriter at Annodyne.

Darcy Grabenstein May 23

Bleisure travel: A blessing for the industry

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In the travel industry, the line in the beach resort’s sand is often blurred between business and pleasure. For many people, the blurring favors the side of business, with career-crazed vacationers reluctant to “unplug” from work even when using their precious PTO. For others, business travel gives them an opportunity to experience destinations they may not have otherwise visited.

What does this mean for the tourism industry? Business + leisure equals an opportunity to cater to customers’ needs, no matter what bleisure (don’t blame me; I didn’t coin the term) means to them.

Bleisure infographic

Infographic courtesy of BridgeStreet

For airlines, it means offering connectivity even at 39,000 feet. For airports, it means having even more phone-charging stations and accessible electrical outlets.

For hotels, it means offering free WiFi to business travelers, having business centers where guests can print from computers, free Internet access for guests and more. It also means having an on-site gym where guests can continue their at-home fitness routines even when away on business. It means having a trained concierge staff ready to answer guests’ questions about the area.

For companies, it means giving employees some free time before, during or after a business trip to explore. The same goes for conference planners; leisure time is a win-win as it boosts the local economy and also offers additional, less-formal opportunities for attendees to network. It’s also an opportunity to provide activities/suggestions for attendees’ vacationing partners who may accompany them on the trip. (I’ve accompanied my husband to an annual convention three years in a row, and usually am on my own when it comes to exploring the area.)

For corporate travel agents, it means getting creative with travel planning. Offer ideas on how business travelers can spend their precious free time in a given destination.

And for destination marketers, bleisure travel can be a big boon. It’s a bit like double-dipping. It means getting the word out to conference planners about after-hours options for dining and entertainment. It also means creating itineraries that will help time-crunched travelers make the most of their stay.

For bleisure travelers, it can mean choosing a vacation spot that’s conducive to the occasional conference call or video conference. It can mean attending an industry event because it’s in a highly desirable location. And it can mean, after getting a sneak peek of a destination on a business trip, returning there for a full-fledged vacation at a later date.

Let’s face it, bleisure travel is here to stay. Members of the tourism industry would be wise to capitalize on this trend.

Darcy Grabenstein is senior copywriter at Annodyne.


Darcy Grabenstein May 28

The importance of copy

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Note: As fans mourn the end of “Mad Men,” senior copywriter Darcy Grabenstein recalls a blog post she wrote critiquing one of Don Draper’s magazine ads. This post originally appeared on Darcy’s personal blog in 2013.

Ad from "Mad Men" episode

In the season opener of “Mad Men,” Don Draper is pitching a print ad to his client that promotes Hawaii.

The mock-up shows a beach shoreline strewn with a man’s jacket, tie and shoes — with footprints leading into the ocean. The headline reads: “Hawaii: The jumping off point.”

Like Don’s client, I immediately thought of suicide. Then I realized that it was the copy that led me to that conclusion.

Instead of “Jumping Off Point,” if Don had used a headline or tagline of “Hawaii. Shed your cares,” I’m guessing his client would have bought the concept.

Not only does this episode emphasize the importance of copy, it also shows how graphics and copy must work together to create a clear, cohesive message.

We all know Don has a dark side to his character. Apparently, he let his personality cloud his copywriting. This also illustrates how agency creatives must listen to their clients, even when they think they’re right and the client is wrong.

Me? I’ll take a fact-finding junket to Hawaii any day.


 Darcy Grabenstein is senior copywriter at Annodyne.

Darcy Grabenstein May 11

Mobile Is a Must for Travel Marketers

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As travel season soon kicks into high gear, destination marketers are scrambling to get their fair share of the tourism pie. No matter how you slice it, mobile is a key ingredient in the marketer’s mixing bowl of tactics.

According to the Skift report, State of Travel 2014, mobile technology plays a significant role in the travel industry. The report cited mobile apps as an emerging factor in travel e-commerce. U.S. mobile travel bookings were predicted to increase exponentially, from $ 2 billion in 2011 to $40 billion in 2015. In fact, travel apps are the fastest-growing app category:

Mobile trends

SOURCE: bluebridgeTourism

In the illustration below, travel-related businesses are jumping on the mobile bandwagon:


SOURCE: TripAdvisor/SkiftStats: Apr 26 2014

The Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) acknowledges the increased use of mobile to book and plan trips. Search remains the number one planning source for personal travel. As early as 2012, a whopping 95 percent of leisure travelers started their destination planning with search.* Not surprising, then, that the DMAI recommends search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) as online tactics for reaching prospective travelers.

Social media also strongly influences people’s travel decisions, according to the DMAI. Up to 52 percent of users changed their original travel plans based on social media.**

The infographic below gives a snapshot of the online travel industry as of 2012:


SOURCE: Funsherpa. Airplane icon image via Shutterstock.

Video content also is playing an increasing role in online travel planning. The DMAI notes that 45 percent of leisure travelers, 72 percent of business travelers, and 74 percent of affluent travelers have been prompted to book travel as a result of online video.*

Photo sharing also has exploded onto the scene, with sites such as Facebook and Pinterest, and apps including Instagram.

So what’s a travel marketer to do? First, optimize for mobile. Next, optimize for search. Create compelling content that distinguishes your venue from the competition. Encourage social interaction with site — and destination — visitors. Then look forward to the peak of the ­­­2015 travel season with optimism.

Darcy Grabenstein is senior copywriter at Annodyne.

*Traveler’s Road to Decision. Google, July 2012
**Social Media’s Influence on the Travel Industry. 25 July 2012.

Diana Altobelli Apr 23

The Tourists Want Tourism Marketing

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Tourists may not realize it, but they want to be fed tourism marketing. Let’s face it, whether looking for a getaway or a long vacation, we the people want more than just a hotel and a place to grab some grub. We want the full experience. Annodyne staffers are well aware of this “full experience” with our tourism marketing clients.

It’s more than just getting people to book the hotel. They want to feel like they’re visiting a destination that will take their breath away. In order to target potential vacationers, you need to create stories and more content that will keep visitors engaged throughout the whole planning process.

For instance, I am in the midst of wedding planning (eight and a half months to go, but who’s counting) and booking a honeymoon is top priority. Being that my fiance and I have never been on a real vacation together besides the Jersey Shore, this is a huge deal. So when we are researching, dreaming and pre-planning, first impressions are huge.

While we originally were against the whole resort cliché, Sandals vacation that is what we decided on. At the end of the day, Sandals is known to be the expert when it comes to honeymoon resorts. Sandals knows how to treat newlyweds and give them the “experience” of a lifetime. The views, photos, butler service, dinner in the middle of a pool with ocean views. We want it all! Without marketing and delivering the correct message to potential bookers, you can be losing out on a lot of tourists.

regency la toc sandals

Look, we’re able to get three times the fun with three vacations in one. Now we’re talking. This targets a variety of vacationers. Love water sports? Sandals has it, and unlimited. Want to relax by the beach? Sandals has that, too. Restaurants, spas, golf — you name it.

Tourism marketing agencies need to think about the end users’ needs. With the availability of the Internet, tourists now have way more information right at their fingertips. That also means tourism organizations have a chance to promote their brand, embrace the power of social media and develop an overarching product in front of people everywhere.

Tourists are looking for adventures. With the help of a tourism marketing agency, destinations can help figure out their target audiences, whether they are different personas of the ideal tourist or the different stages of dreaming, planning and booking. Key messaging, content and imagery are what attract tourists.

Take our breath away, and we’ll be ready to escape reality without you having to lift a finger.

Darcy Grabenstein Jan 26

Falling Gas Prices: How Travel Marketers Can Capitalize on This Opportunity

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Pumping gas

As of this writing, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $2.03, according to the American Automobile Association’s (AAA) daily fuel gauge report. That compares to $2.53 a gallon a month ago, $3.30 a year ago and a high of $4.11 in July 2008.

In New Jersey (where I live), prices are typically lower than neighboring Pennsylvania (where I work). I just paid under $2 a gallon, AND I don’t have to pump my own gas. Life is good.

Life is also good for travel marketers, who can capitalize on falling gas prices by promoting their destinations as weekend getaways. With lower gas prices, travelers are more likely to hop in the car and drive (blizzards nothwithstanding), since filling up is less expensive now.

Convention and visitors bureaus, casinos, hotels, outlet malls, festivals, luggage companies — you name it — all can benefit from the fact that it costs less to fill up the gas tank. With a little extra cash on their hands, tourists are more likely to take a little trip (and spend a little more) than when they were getting gouged at the gas pump. Let the marketing begin!

How can destination marketers make the most of this opportunity?

• Advertise right at the gas pump; several companies specialize in this medium.

• Create special weekend travel packages, then promote them within an X-mile radius of your destination.

• Make sure your website and emails are optimized for mobile, since that’s where the bulk of your audience will be viewing your promotions.

• Consider running promotions via SMS (text messaging).

• Start or increase radio advertising, since you’ve got a captive audience in their vehicles.

• Increase your ad spend for billboards, since more folks will be on the highways.

• Boost your spend on geo-targeted search engine marketing.

• Initiate a loyalty program, to encourage repeat visits.

• Take a cue from Disney and offer discounts for in-state residents.

• Invest in developing a mobile app for your destination.

• Promote your destination at toll road rest stops via brochures.

• Develop co-op promotions with organizations such as AAA or non-competitive businesses (such as restaurants/hotels, attractions/hotels, etc.).

In short, my advice for destination marketers: Fill ’er up!

Darcy Grabenstein is senior copywriter at Annodyne.

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