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Retailers Face the Future

If you’re a Shoreline retailer, you’re also a publisher. And you’re also on the lookout for new opportunities. You might not know it yet. But you have a social media presence and you’re generating content above and beyond that at best. Here’s a couple of things to keep a heads up for.

I’ve been working on some content marketing projects lately that have turned up some useful tools. Example: In early June, NewsCred released an article called “50 Stats You Need to Know About Content Marketing.” I’ve been following NewsCred for some time and have been impressed with their outreach and engagement strategy. So when this email came through, I decided to take a look. As I read through the facts (although some of them are a few years old), I found myself thinking back to how powerful publishing really is, in almost every instance.

For example, did you know that back in 2012 AOL and Nielsen shared a statistic that 27 million pieces of content were shared daily? In May of 2013, Facebook reported that 4.75 billion pieces of content were shared daily as of May 2013, which is a 94 percent increase from August 2012.

As incredible as that seems, what is even more amazing is that BuzzFeed reports that more than 75 percent of that content originates from people who read professional content to find something to share from it. This insight alone points to the fact that without high-quality content from publishers like yourself, content marketing and social sharing as we know it would not exist.

Publishers who embrace this desire and passion for great content are watching their businesses change and evolve to meet the needs and social demands of the new generations. But these publishers are far, far away from calling it quits. Companies like Hearst have found beautiful and effective ways to leverage content from all of their brands and divisions to enable interested parties to not just reach interesting articles, but to share, promote, and evangelize it as well.

Content is critical to the success of many businesses. Simple elements like creating blogs posts can increase indexed pages by more than 400 percent, according to Content+. And companies like Idio have created dynamic ways to leverage semantic networks to better engage visitors.

Seeing the impact of content on every technology user in the world is big. Knowing that, as a publisher, you can draw strength from demand if you can present your content in the right manner is even bigger. But there is still one area that we haven’t mastered just yet. Sometimes knowing how to evaluate whether your content strategy is effective or not still eludes us.

When you sit back and think about it, you will realize that, content strategy hold the keys and power to the future.

One of the other keys to retailings future is in wearable technology. As a recent wearable technology marketer and entrepreneur, I’ve had a front-row seat to the business of launching a brand into the “hot” market over the past six months. So it was with a somewhat “told you so” attitude that I read about Nike’s exit from the wearable technology business. There is arguably no better marketing company on the planet. But for once in its corporate life, Nike didn’t have the product. Without the right product, the best marketing won’t win. Good marketing lesson there.

If you didn’t see it, Nike whacked its 70-person Fuel Band design, marketing, and sales division last week. It’s not something a Fortune 500 company does without a Plan B. That Plan B, according to sources, is a partnership with Apple, who will enter the wearable tech category most likely by the end of summer. Brands in the wearable business don’t have to worry as much about their business proposition because the market is skyrocketing. Brands do need to worry about defining their audience and then providing value. Nike’s Fuel Band could have done very well for one more year. It had the obvious business proposition (track your performance), and it had the audience (athletes pro and casual).

Then it would have faced the manufacturing, design, and marketing issues that face every company in the hardware business. Play fast, play hard, and maybe keep some money—tough game. A year from now, Samsung will have third-generation wearable tech on the market, Jawbone will take more steps to own the fashionable part of the business, and Apple will have launched a watch that does everything a Fuel Band can do. I think Nike took a look at the schedule and saw a few teams it couldn’t beat. And if you can’t beat ‘em …

I agree with the pundits that predict another Nike and Apple alliance. It has worked with Nike + Fit. Note that in that case, Nike provided the interface and the sneakers. That’s what will happen here. Digital hardware is a very tough business. Retail is in flux and I actually think you will see wearable specialty store by the time 2014 is up. Nike would have to reinvent an entire division to play here, and Nike belongs in the wearable tech hardware business about as much as Apple belongs in the sneaker business.

For brand marketers, the wearable category has been proof positive that product is still the king. As more medical, fashion, fitness, and even gesture-based wearable products roll out, product will lead marketing, instead of marketing leading product. Examples: In the mobile device category, you could argue that the customer is won and lost on marketing right now. The products are almost even up in terms of quality (RIM excluded). But for wearables, the customer is very much in “show me” mode. No product failure will be forgiven. Marketing missteps can always be addressed with the next campaign.

Nike’s exit says a lot about Nike. It doesn’t mean the wearable business is any less lucrative. I expect Nike will get back to what it does best, and that’s marketing. Its marketing and the right hardware partner will be fuel to this business.

Image Credits: Illustration courtesy of Shutterstock

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