Every year it's the same mad scramble for ad agencies everywhere - comb through your archives for the best work from the past year and submit the very best of the best in hopes of winning some recognition for your agency (and, let's be honest, a little personal ego stroke, as well).
Looking back over the work we've done in 2005 got me thinking about where we are likely to go in the coming year. Which brings me to the list below. This is by no means an exhaustive list. In fact, I'm willing to bet that there's at least one trend that'll catch us all completely by surprise. However, I'm willing to stake what little professional reputation I have that at least half of the things on this list will be a big deal in 2006 (how's that for hedging my bets?).
Here are the major trends I see coming our way in 2006:
- Research, research and more brand research. Communications firms do their best work when they know what they need to communicate. The time and money spent on strategically relevant employment brand research is one of the wisest investments in HR. We did a lot of research projects in 2005 and I predict we'll do twice as many this year. Why take a chance on messaging you hope will reach your audience, when you can do your homework and be sure about it?
- Good work is happening where the Internet and PC meet. The most interesting promotional pieces I saw this past year were done in the space where the PC connects to the Internet. Screensavers, digital CD-ROMs and DVDs. Familiar media re-tooled for unexpected promotional purposes. The work felt fresh and it delivered great results for our clients. We'll see more of this in 2006.
- Brochureware is dead. Okay, so static online content has been passé for at least the last five years, but 2005 was a turning point. In 2006, I think we can look forward to a lot more video-based digital experiences. Check out ge.ecomagination.com and www.visualthesaurus.com as two examples of the kinds of interactivity I see influencing employment Web design in the coming months.
- HMTL email. We'll be sending twice as many of them this year as last year (maybe three times as many). And these emails will be part of an ongoing communication channel, with e-mail campaigns and periodic newsletters, not just the one-off vehicle for event announcements.
- Blogging for talent. A few companies started blogging in 2005 to give potential employees an inside peak at projects and company work culture. But this was just the tip of the iceberg. Look for a lot more recruitment blogs in 2006. Also look for blogs to get way more sophisticated - written content is just the beginning. Images and video clips will begin appearing regularly on blog sites. My boss will be very sad if I don't put in a plug in for our recently launched blog: blog.tmp.com
- More mobile advertising. Recruitment advertising will start popping up regularly on people's mobile phones. This year it'll be largely text messages, but video is hot on its heels...probably in 2007.
- The return of gamevertising. Okay, so it will never be 1999 again, but there is a place for deeply immersive environments where users play a game to learn what it's like to work at a company. I predict we'll see more digital video recruitment experiences in 2006. Check out www.dice.com/beingit/ for an example of the sort of experience I'm talking about.
- Google ad words. They're cheap. They work. We'll do more of them. (I'm frankly surprised we didn't do more of them in 2005.)
- Social Networking. If it works for dating, it can work for recruiting talent. The big idea here is combining an Employee Referral Program (ERP) with a dynamic social networking database - the first client to do this successfully will get a LOT of free publicity (think Cisco "Friends"). I'm excited about this one - can you tell?
- Explore the great outdoors. The talent market is going to be tighter this year than last. Baby Boomers are starting to retire and there aren't enough Gen Xers to fill the pipeline. And when recruiting gets tough, the tough buy billboards. I expect to see quite a few more careers- related billboards this year.