4 Marketing “Trends” That Never Go Out Of Style
What's hot and what's not? Columnist Patrick Armitage urges marketers not to get caught up in trends and outlines four marketing basics that are here to stay.
Marketing is a lot like fashion.
For both industries, now is the time for all the trend articles. What’s hot in 2016? What can we expect to see? What will we see go out of fashion? Who’s hot? Who’s not? It’s exhausting.
I constantly get infatuated with reading all the latest trend articles on marketing, blogging and content in 2016, when I know that our company still has plenty of work to do on the basics first.
And yet, trend articles are such easy wins. They’re inspirational. I can read just one and start pontificating on the future of marketing in my next client meeting.
All I need to say is: “I just read about this [insert trend],” and voila!, you’re an expert. A marketing oracle sent to save the client from himself.
Trends are only as effective as the foundation upon which they’re executed.
If I told you that 2016 was going to be the year of anthropomorphic cat explainer videos for B2B marketers, that information is useless if you don’t have a sound foundation for that content in the first place.
I’d recommend skipping the next trend article. Instead, spend that time focusing on your marketing department’s basics.
Here are four marketing basics you should master that will never go out of style:
1. Master Goal-Setting
When potential customers start asking about our blogging services, we start by asking “What are your goals?” Every marketing tactic is a trend if you don’t have stated goals.
The most schizophrenic marketers I’ve worked with have one thing in common: no stated goals. They jump from tactic to tactic looking to find the magic marketing bullet. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t exist.
Start with the goals first, and the tactics will follow.
2. Master Measurement
Measurement legitimizes your goals. If your marketing goal in 2016 is generating “more business,” it’s important to understand how you measure “more business.”
A deeper dive into your measurement criteria can help focus your marketing goals. For example, if your marketing goal is “more business,” but your marketing team doesn’t track sales or revenue, how can “more business” be measured in the first place?
Your goal may change to “more leads for the sales team,” as leads can be measured if they fall under the purview of marketing.
It sounds obvious, but measure stuff that you can actually measure. Marketers set a measurement goal of improving sales but don’t have access to any sales data. What’s the point?
3. Master Planning
[blockquote]“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupery[/blockquote]
Pretty much. Thanks, French guy.
You can’t have goals without a plan. And you can’t have a plan without goals.
When you’ve created a marketing plan, trends become tactics if they contribute to your plan’s success. Without a plan, following trends is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
If your goal is “more leads for the sales team,” define your measurement criteria. For argument’s sake, let’s say it’s total lead forms submitted.
That means your your plan should outline the approach to generating more leads and making sure you can track lead forms.
4. Master Execution
Working Backward Creates Checks and Balances in Your Marketing Strategy
Working backward from goals to measuring said goals to planning helps vet each step in your marketing funnel.
If a goal can’t be measured, you may need to reassess your goals.
If your tactics don’t generate any measurable information, you may need to reassess your plan.
Write This Stuff Down
When you write down your goals, measurement criteria and plan, it becomes real and solidifies your foundation.
Writing stuff down clarifies the amorphous direction and disparate thoughts floating around in your head and the collective heads of your marketing department. It also helps ensure a true north for all parties involved.
By not writing it down, your marketing initiatives stand on shaky ground. Your tactics can be changed or compromised by a trend or knee-jerk directive from management.
It’s amazing to me how easily communication can be frayed within the smallest departments and organizations. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix: Share the goals, measurement criteria and plan you’ve written down with all interested parties.
If your team actually follows the plan, it’s the only thing you need to share and reference when it comes to holding you and your team accountable.
I keep a two-page document that states the marketing goals and plan for the year. I share it with our directors and reference it when there’s a potential shift in business strategy or when we want to entertain turning a trend into a tactic.
Set a Meeting to Hold Yourself Accountable
Once you’ve documented your marketing goals, measurement criteria and plan, and you’ve shared it, set meetings with stakeholders and management three, six, nine months and one year out. This simple task holds you accountable.
It also ensures that you’re executing against the initiatives you’ve set out to achieve and keeps your written plan current.
Nothing gets a project done like a meeting with your boss tomorrow.
Trends will come and go, but these marketing basics are here to stay.
Together, these four are necessary for considering any new marketing tactic. It’s easy to get enamored with something new and shiny. But it’s also a distraction from doing the necessary foundational work first.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.