Pantone has released their color of year 2012: tangerine tango, Pantone 17-1463 (so you get the right shade). They describe it as “the energy boost we need to recharge and move forward.” That’s quite an optimistic viewpoint and a fantastic motivation for business owners, whether you actually use the shade anywhere or not.

Besides this design declaration, here are seven other marketing trends we predict will define 2012:

1. Bottoms-Up: Customers First

As trendwatching.com reported, 2012 is the year of the red carpet where customers will be showered by perks from the businesses they interact with. Also, consumers will reward brands that show more humanity owning up to mistakes and engaging in a two-way conversation with their customers rather than the traditional one-way monologue from the business spokesperson.

Takeaway: Your brand must rethink their sales, service and marketing strategies.

2. Continued Rise of the Mobile

We’ve explored a great many reasons your business should be thinking about mobile in our previous post: Is Your Business Marketing On The Move? If Not You Better Get Mobile. We should also note here, however, that technology will be pushing mobile one step further into a cash-less ecosystem of payment via that mobile tech.

Takeaway: Get a mobile website for your business and look into other mobile marketing methods.

3. Gamification of Marketing Campaigns

Can you share, get points or unlock badges for it? These and other gamification aspects are the new motivators for customers who are increasingly engaged by interactive campaigns and purchasing models. Zynga is the go-to model for gamification ideas.

Takeaway: Study business models that include gamification, such as Getglue and Foursquare, and consider how these techniques could be applied to your business campaigns.

4. Social Business

Consumers will look to their social networks first to find out information about products and services. More tools for the measurement of social analytics will be released, and brands must use these tools to better understand their consumers. These insights will lead to the establishment of better connections with customers of all income levels.

Takeaway: Are you on the social networks? Do you know what is being said about your business? Get your social savvy on.

5. Mass Customization

Individuals are choosing their own content on their own terms. They will use technology even more to customize products for themselves and to manage their health and lifestyles. Consumers will also participate in surveys and campaigns as well to offer their own in-put about the direction that businesses take and the products they offer.

Takeaway: Reconsider your products and/or services. What level of customization do they offer? And what can you do to ensure more customized engagement with your clientele?

6. Channel Experimentation

Businesses like retailers will continue to experiment with their format, such as incorporating food trucks, pop-up stores and flash sales. Marketers and social strategists will see what kind of analytics they can collect through their various platforms and what sorts of content generate sales. Competition will encourage businesses to push the boundaries when it comes to promotions and campaigns.

Takeaway: As a business you must think outside the box. Now is the time to embrace new and innovative ideas.

7. Businesses Score Through Co-Promotion

Your business will do best to cultivate the co-promotion model. It’s social business on a business to business level where customers and clients will be influenced by recommendations and referrals.

Takeaway: Begin growing your network now, and support surrounding businesses to encourage overall community success.

Though the challenges to business in 2012 will be daunting, the progressive business will take social objectives mainstream and tie them to their overall business objectives. Engagement will be defined not by facilitated conversation, but the consumer’s overall takeaway value and the actions that result.