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Josh Graff, Marketing Solutions Director EMEA at LinkedIn discusses the focal points for the marketing industry in 2015.

Values-based marketing will become the norm

More than ever, a company’s brand is as much about the people they employ, the culture they create and the values they believe as it is the content in their ads or even the products themselves. As a result, consumers are increasingly making buying decisions based on a wider range of factors than just the functionality or aesthetic of the product. Supply chain transparency, corporate social responsibility, employee satisfaction, diversity in the workplace and the longer-term company vision will all play an increasing role in the decision making process. Marketers will increasingly need to work alongside all these divisions to develop and convey a more rounded story. Social media has put the balance of power firmly in the hands of consumers, enabling them to force the hand of companies that don’t meet their ever increasing expectations.

As the business world speeds up, decision-making slows down

Companies worldwide are taking advantage of technology to connect teams and foster collaboration across different functions and geographies. There are dozens of well documented benefits to this networked age, however one of the looming pitfalls is that the complexity and speed of decision making in large multi-nationals is in process of spiraling out of control. For marketers, the need to be locally empowered is even more acute today than ever before, notably in the B2B world. Their audiences are more fragmented across devices and geographies, are better researched than ever before and in the majority of cases, will not even contact a vendor until they are at least 75% of the way through the buying cycle. Marketers need to be locally agile so that they can adopt new disruptive technologies which will capture the attention of their customers without waiting on a 6-month internal approval process otherwise they will be left behind and disintermediated by the likes of Uber, Dropbox, Airbnb, Kymeta, and Warby Parker. The winners will have CEOs at the helm that can strike the right balance between empowering local decision makers to be agile and quickly embrace new technologies whilst also benefiting from globally consistent systems and processes which save time, energy and resources.

The talent gap will widen

This time last year we said that 2014 would see more and more brands and media agencies bring new editorial skills into their organisations to better compete in the content marketing space. A quick look shows that Whole Foods, Uber and Debenhams are all recruiting for editorial positions on LinkedIn today. Not surprisingly, many of these positions are being filled by experienced journalists who understand what consumers actually want to read. Recruitment will remain a key battleground in 2015. Agencies and brands are fighting to retain top talent in what has become a covert war with media owners and start-ups. As data has firmly established itself as the new oil, companies are now aggressively building their employer brands to attract everyone from data scientists to experts in marketing automation, the latter being another big trend in 2015. As part of this shift, brands and agencies need to ensure they achieve the right balance of skills across all levels of seniority to avoid a ‘skills gap’, where the younger generation hold all the data expertise but lack the business acumen, and commercially savvy leaders remain unsure about data.

You can read this, and more on the Internet Advertising Bureau UK website.