Graeme Brooks, Group Marketing Manager of international multi-family office Boston, sponsors of the Ashgrove Creative Awards, looks at future trends in digital marketing.

Why would a professional services group sponsor a creative award for ‘online and digital’? Our industry isn’t known for digital innovation, so is it all just about trying to look cool? Well, maybe it is a little bit – but that’s definitely not the whole story.

The days when having a digital strategy meant a Facebook page, an entry on LinkedIn and a Twitter feed are long gone. Such is the pace and scope of development in the digital world, some of the basic rules of marketing are being rewritten – and the traditional relationships between businesses and consumers along with them.

To my mind, the most significant impact of digital media has been the empowerment of the consumer. Apps and devices allow them to control and measure and choose. Ad blocking software lets them switch off interruption advertising. The personal information economy, where consumers seek to monetarise the value of their data and in effect “sell” it to businesses  of their choice via trusted personal data companies like Digi-Me, is no longer on the horizon but on the doorstep (check out our blog for more on this).

Because it is in the hands of the consumer to seek out relevant content, marketers have had to respond by changing from push to pull marketing strategies to ensure their brand has the content that is worth looking for. When the consumer gets to choose who gets the data and the attention, the twin pillars of the modern marketing industry, you have to offer real value or go home empty handed.

That’s what we face externally. Internally within businesses, the networked economy has likewise transformed the way we communicate. Collaborative software enables people to contribute and participate wherever they are in the world. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and team software platforms like Slack are simplifying and centralising information and communication.

The real challenge for marketing professionals now is therefore not just in delivering value to empowered consumers. That’s so 2015. The challenge for us now is how we build efficient, value-adding, on-message ways to be the two-way communications bridge between empowered consumers on the outside and empowered staff on the inside of our businesses. We are only beginning to understand what this could look like now as innovators reimagine the role of marketing.

It’s this untapped potential for doing things differently that makes digital and online marketing such an exciting place to be and as crucial to our industry as any other. At Boston we believe where there is change, there is opportunity. We are already building a group of companies that seamlessly connect digitally empowered clients with digitally empowered staff and through our capital introduction and eCommerce business lines we are working with many more companies doing the same.

Ultimately, we need a new generation of digital savvy marketers to keep the Island’s businesses at the forefront of this development. So, if you have a talent for online engagement, make sure you enter the Ashgrove Creative Award for Online and Digital and let’s celebrate some fresh ideas!