Looking ahead to 2018

The world of marketing never stands still. The growing use of technology, combined with increasingly time-poor audiences with competing demands on their attention now means that marketers have to work harder and smarter than before.

As Jay Baer puts it:

“If your stories are all about your products and services, that’s not storytelling. It’s a brochure. Give yourself permission to make the story bigger.”

And that ‘permission’ is where things start to get exciting.

Breaking out of the silo opens up a world of possibilities which marketers must sieze so that their storytelling reflects something wider than the well trodden path of product selling.

Audiences are becoming more sophisticated, marketers must too

So, what does this hold for 2018?

Actually, it means revisiting first principles while also enabling room for flexibility to ensure that you can accomodate changing circumstances.

Ideas: These rarely spring out, fully formed and ready to go.   They will also need to be adapted for different formats and situations, possibly even for different emotional states or times of day.

The process you have to work towards is one where ideas are constantly improved on, customised for different audiences, and adapted to the new formats consumers are using.   Don’t be afraid to experiment.   And for that, you need …

Skills:

  • Video production and editing
  • Graphic design, illustration, and editing
  • Audio editing and production skills
  • Content optimization across multiple formats (SEO is not dead yet)
  • Content distribution and promotion
  • Strategy development, execution, and campaign management
  • Communications and branding
  • Advertising and media buying
  • Analytics, metrics, and reporting

… ideas and skills alone, aren’t enough.   You need a strategy.   And strategy springs from research, an informed awareness of your environment, your competitors and peers, and especially of what’s coming and where you want to be.   A well researched proposal swings stakeholders in your favour, helps you deliver through others and narrow down the key emotional and psychological needs your target audience has.   So, strategy …

Strategy: Developing a marketing strategy that includes the recommendations below will help make the most of your marketing, keep it focused, and measure and improve your sales results.

Identify business goals

What are your overarching business goals? Define a set of marketing goals to support them. These goals might include:

  • increasing awareness of your products and services
  • selling more products from a certain supplier
  • reaching a new customer segment

Be as targeted as possible in your goal setting so that you can measure outcomes against aspirations. Use the the SMART method:

  • Specific – state clearly what you want to achieve
  • Measurable – set tangible measures so you can measure your results
  • Achievable – set objectives that are within your capacity and budget
  • Relevant – set objectives that will help you improve particular aspects of your business
  • Time-bound – set objectives you can achieve within the time you need them

State your marketing goals

Defining specific marketing goals which are allied to your business goals helps you benchmark your success.

Your marketing goals may be short, medium or long term, but setting clear and measurable outcomes and having a time frame for achievement really helps to keep you on track.

Make sure your overall strategies are also practical. A good marketing strategy will not be changed every year, but revised when your strategies have been achieved or your marketing goals have been met. Also, you may need to amend your strategy if your external market changes due to a new competitor or disruptive new technology, or if your products substantially change. Remember Kodak? They clearly didn’t do that, instead they carried on flogging the same products in the same way in the teeth of change and … failed spectacularly.

Research your market

Research, again, is an essential part of your marketing strategy. You need to gather information about your market, such as its size, growth, social trends and demographics (population statistics such as age, gender, income and family type). It is important to keep an eye on your market so you are aware of any changes over time, so your strategy remains relevant and targeted.

Profile potential customers

Use your market research to develop a profile of the customers you are targeting and identify their needs. Increasingly, marketers are looking beyond the basics of demographic indicators, and taking in emotional and psycholoigical traits too, psychography.

The profile will reveal your audiences buying patterns, including how they buy, where they buy, why they buy, and what they buy. Again, regularly review trends so you don’t miss out on new opportunities or become irrelevant with your marketing message. Think about the 7Ps.

While you try to find new customers, make sure your marketing strategy also allows you to maintain relationships with your existing customers.

Profile competitors

If you don’t know what your competitors are doing … remember Kodak! … you’re wasting your time. Identify your competitor’s products, supply chains, pricing and marketing tactics.

Use this to identify your competitive advantage – what sets your business apart from your competitors. You may also want to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your own internal processes to help improve your performance compared with your competition – You can’t beat a good SWOT analysis.

Develop strategies to support your marketing goals

List your target markets and devise a set of strategies to attract and retain them.

For example, one goal might be to increase young people’s awareness of your products. Your corresponding strategies could be to increase your online social media presence (you do have one right?) by posting regular updates about your product on Twitter and Facebook; advertising in blogs or online magazines targeted to young people; and offering discounts for students.

The 7 Ps of marketing

Identify your tactical marketing mix using the 7 Ps of marketing – Product, Price, Promotion, Place, People, Process, Physical Evidence.

If you can choose the right combination of marketing across the 7 Ps, your marketing strategy will be a success.

Test ideas

In deciding your tactics, do some online research, test some ideas and approaches on your customers and your staff, and review what works.

You will need to choose a number of tactics in order to meet your customers’ needs, reach the customers within your target market, and improve your sales results.

Those 2018 trends

So, what can we expect in 2018?  

  • More content marketing, for sure
  • In addition, transparency becomes ever more important.   Don’t rely on dodgy marketing like paying social media influencers.   It might get you great results in the short-term, but it will cost you in the long run by detrsoying your credibility and trsust in  your brand – just don’t go there
  • Always remember the customer and the customer experience.   You are dealing with human beings so make it easy for them , but also relevant, and a pleasure 
  • Give back something too.   We are living in an age when values are as important as the product you may be selling.   And by values I mean more than your bottom line, I’m talking about those psychographic factors again – where morals equate with values.   Are you doing good?  What are you giving back?
  • CRM and data driven marketing to deliver a high degree of targeting and personalisation is vital.   Bombarding everyone with the same message only goes so far
  • And finally, always look at the conversion rate – measure the journey from the first message to final sale and everything in between.

In short – get marketing in the 21st century.

Have fun!