Dan Grech came over @PRSAFTL’s usual hangout last July 31st for a session on “The 5 defining trends in Digital Communications in 2019”. Dan is a reporter who has been a foreign correspondent for the Miami Herald and NPR, and a former news director for WLRN. He still has his radio voice, but what made the session really special for us is Dan’s latest experience as the founder and lead instructor of BizHack, his digital marketing training startup.
Dan started BizHack after trying to learn more about digital marketing and realizing there were no formal, comprehensive training options available. He found out he enjoys training others while making his own way. “I have never worked so hard to make so little money”, he says about starting BizHack (and he was a reporter!). But he says journalists and communicators are forced to skill up like he did if they want to stay on top of a marketing industry reshaped by digital.
Which brings us to Dan’s five predictions for digital communications. He put them out for ComNet in 2018 and updated them for us. For context, his first advice for us as communicators is to think of Facebook as an advertiser, not as a user. Same with Google. For example, as a user you might think that Facebook “is dead”. He explained how this feeling is related to Facebook’s “Houdini trick”: organic (non-paid) reach all but disappeared to less than 2% of the feed’s content. Facebook has replaced it with advertising and is doing an excellent job of selling it. But they are not alone.
Recap of Dan’s top five:
- Amazon now has 4% share of the advertising market, expected to grow to 7% share in 2020. Why? We visit Amazon to buy stuff, and advertisers want to be there for us. Even if they are not selling on Amazon. Dan did a great job predicting this last year: Amazon was on the news for it in July.
- Attack of the Messenger bots: turns out you can use Facebook Messenger for marketing. Try it yourself: load the Messenger app on your phone, tap your face, and then tap “code” and “scan code”: point your camera to the BizHack Messenger code below to subscribe to their chat service. Dan shared the example of a dentist using Messenger to target 55-year old people without dental insurance.
- WhatsApp sells its soul: you liked that Messenger code? Facebook has announced advertising is also coming to WhatsApp, initially to your “Stories”, like in Instagram (another Facebook property).
- Martec mashup: remember that map showing all the companies, apps and services in digital media? It has now passed 7,000 logos, from 150 logos in 2011. It’s a mess. We are all confused: reports say that CMOs have now the shortest tenure of any role in the C-suite, at less than 2 years.
- Storytelling: as everything changes, the ability to tell a story about your business is more important than ever in marketing. Dan recommended two books for inspiration: Seth Godin’s “All marketers are liars” and Simon Sinek’s “Start with why”.
Here’s the deck if you want to have a look:
Dan finished the session on a bright note: “You in PR are in a good position to get digital marketing because of your focus on audiences”. That’s the first pillar in BizHack’s training courses. Next course starts September 9th in Miami. You can apply here.