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Already planning for 2014?

The end of the year is the perfect time to reflect on the past 12 months and to look ahead.

As you think about your 2014 marketing strategy and tactics, consider these insights from 21 respected business leaders. (All images were created by our in-house graphic designer, Carolyn Laihow. Scroll down below for an embeddable Slideshare presentation with all the quotes.)

1. Oli Gardner

Since an Unbounce blog post inspired this post, it's only appropriate that we include a quote from the Vancouver startup's co-founder. Your customers won't be able to answer all your business questions (especially if you don't ask the right questions), but if you'd like to provide real value, then you need to understand them. How do you plan to listen to your customers in the New Year?

Tweet this: "The customer isn't always right. But if you don't listen to them, your product won't be either." - @oligardner

  1. Joe Chernov

Content marketing was a hot topic for marketers in 2013, and Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProf's annual report suggests that marketers will continue to invest in it in the New Year. Joe Chernov (VP of content at Hubspot, and previously VP of content marketing at Eloqua) reiterates the need to focus on content distribution as much as content production. Reaching the right people begins by knowing your target audience intimately.

Tweet this: "The right question is: 'How do I get my content in front of the right people?'" - @jchernov on #contentmarketing

  1. Ramon Baez

This quote from HP's CIO was featured in a Slideshare presentation about business advice from the world's top executives.

Baez's thoughts on creativity show how co-creation can bring tremendous value to brands by bringing external voices into the innovation process.

Tweet this: "Creativity needs to come from everywhere, not just the C-level." - @RamonfBaez. Part of this @visioncritical blog post:

  1. Mark Zuckerberg

In a talk given to the Y Combinator Startup School, Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg explained how his company figured out that users want to share photos on the site. Today, Facebook is the biggest social media site, with 874 million monthly active users. Recently, Facebook launched a panel, suggesting that the site plans to continue listening to the insights of its users as its business grows.

Tweet this: Mark Zuckerberg (@finkd) on how @Facebook figured out that users want to share photos: via @visioncritical

  1. Sheryl Sandberg

If you want to know where social media is headed in 2014, just watch what the biggest player is doing. Talking about the future of social networking, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg emphasized her company's big bet on mobile. From branded apps to delivering a more seamless mobile experience for people who participate in research, companies are doing a better job of leveraging mobile technology. You may not need to make a dramatic shift towards becoming a mobile-first company, but mobile's impact on your business will be hard to ignore.

Tweet this: Facebook makes "dramatic shift" to a mobile-first company. @sherylsandberg insight part of @visioncritical roundup:

  1. Brian Halligan

Pondering on his company's 2012 performance, Hubspot CEO Brian Halligan blogs about helping customers reap the benefits of inbound marketing.

This quote highlights the first step in providing great content: understanding the lifestyle, needs, and interests of your customers.

Tweet this: Want to win the hearts and minds of customers? Follow @bhalligan's advice: via @visioncritical

  1. Jay Baer

This year, digital marketer and author Jay Baer released YouTility, a book that proposes "a new marketing approach for the age of information overload and mobility."

Baer's point is that it isn't enough to address your customers' needs; brands need to go further and figure out their habits to truly deliver value.

Tweet this: To provide utility, brands should know how customers access information: @jaybaer quote in this @visioncritical roundup:

  1. Brian Solis

When you work in marketing, it's easy to be distracted by shiny objects. A new social network! A new app! A meme! In a guest blog post for Hubspot, Altimeter Group's Brian Solis makes a solid case on why marketing professionals should "lean forward" and re-evaluate what they think they know about their profession.

Tweet this: "The future of marketing is not about technology" - @briansolis quote part of this @visioncritical roundup:

  1. Marissa Mayer

At the recently concluded Dreamforce 2013, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer sat down with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff to chat about design, mobile and leadership.

Her comments about design reiterates the need put your customer first in everything you do—especially in your design.

Tweet this: "When you make a tool too sophisticated, you turn users off." - @marissamayer, part of this @visioncritical roundup:

  1. Larry Page

During his keynote at I/O, a Google Developers conference, Google CEO Larry Page discussed technology and innovation. This quote from his speech explains why Google dabbles on innovations such as self-driving cars and Glass, things that its competitors aren't working on yet. What is your company doing to figure out the non-existing products and services that your customers will find valuable?

Tweet this: "We should be building great things that don't exist." - @Google's Larry Page, part of this @visioncritical roundup:

  1. Ryan Holmes

Digital tools help marketers accurately measure the success of their efforts. But ROI calculations alone can't capture the success of your marketing efforts. This quote from Hootsuite's CEO highlights the need to build long-term relationships with customers.

Tweet this: Building a brand is "about building authentic relationships with people." - @hootsuite's @invoker:

  1. Howard Schultz

In his 1997 book, Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time, Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz writes about the role of authenticity in establishing a successful global brand. Building a brand that people love begins by understanding the values of your customers and ensuring that your marketing activities genuinely reflect those values.

Tweet this: "If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand" - @Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

  1. Steve Jobs

The late Steve Jobs remains a huge inspiration for marketers - and for good reason. The former Apple CEO was a visionary, bringing to life products that consumers can't live without today. This quote highlights Jobs' passion for customers and suggests how he might have approached market research.

Tweet this: Get so close to your customers "that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves" - Steve Jobs

  1. Meg Whitman

Marketing is now a technology business.

That's the main message from Meg Whitman, chief executive of Hewlett Packard, when she made a surprise appearance at Dreamforce 2013. Technology has become such an important part of marketing that CMOs are now on track to outspend CIOs in tech expenses by 2017.

Tweet this: "Who thought 20 years ago marketing would be a technology business?" - @HP CEO @MegWhitman:

  1. Jeff Bezos

From announcing that his company is working on delivery by drones to buying the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos was one of the main headliners in tech this year. His obsession with the customer experience - which is captured in this quote from his interview with 60 Minutes - is something that many global brands should emulate and learn from.

Tweet this: Customer centricity defines @Amazon: Founder Jeff Bezos. More marketing wisdom in this @visioncritical roundup:

  1. Marc Benioff

During his keynote speech at Dreamforce, Marc Benioff talked about the third wave of computing (a trend he calls the Internet of Customers) and what it means for marketers and business leaders. Benioff encouraged his audience to think ahead and consider how the hyper-connected future might impact the way they engage with customers.

Tweet this: "You need to get to the future, ahead of your customers, and be ready to greet them when they arrive." - @Benioff

  1. Jeremiah Owyang

Jeremiah Owyang's work on the collaborative economy this year shows how the phenomenon of people sharing goods, services, money and space is transforming many industries.

Talking to CNET about Crowd Companies, his new latest endeavor, Owyang provides some insights on what established companies need to do to thrive in the emerging collaborative economy.

Tweet this: What do companies need to do to win in the sharing economy? @jowyang insight part of this @visioncritical roundup:

  1. Rand Fishkin

In a speech he gave to SMX Sydney, Moz co-founder Rand Fishkin shared 11 pearls of wisdom to marketers in attendance. This quote from that talk demonstrates why community engagement and marketing efforts go hand-in-hand. In 2014, make it a priority to build and engage your customers.

Tweet this: Community amplifies other marketing channels, according to @Moz CEO @randfish. See @visioncritical roundup:

  1. Tyler Douglas

We're probably a little biased, but we definitely agree with this quote from Vision Critical CMO Tyler Douglas. With big data, social media and, soon, wearable technology changing the face of marketing, CMOs need a solid team who can execute efficiently more than ever.

Tweet this: CMOs need a solid team that understands multichannel marketing: @tylerdouglas, part of @visioncritical roundup:

  1. Andrew Reid

From product innovation to advertising, more and more marketers are helping their organizations embrace customer-centricity by using consumer insights. But while marketers are getting a better job of using surveys and insight communities to get to know their customers, there's still left to be done to make sure the experience is great for respondents. In a speech given to Re:think ARF 2013, Andrew Reid discusses how marketers and researchers can leverage new technologies to deliver a more relevant and enjoyable experience to people who participate in surveys and communities.

Tweet this: "Stop asking stupid questions" - @reidandrew's #MRX advice part of this @visioncritical roundup:

  1. Mary Barra

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times about her new position, Mary Barra, GM's incoming CEO and who is slated to become the first female head of a major U.S. car company, emphasized the need for the automaker to deliver durable and reliable products. As you think about innovation in 2014, start considering how you can use the voice of the customer to inform where you invest.

Tweet this: "We have to make sure every aspect of product meets the customer's needs" - @mtbarra, part of this @visioncritical roundup:

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Kelvin Claveria

Kelvin Claveria was formerly a Content Marketing Manager at Vision Critical.

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