It seems that 2016 is already ramping up in earnest – so if you haven’t already, now is the time to review how your marketing has fared over the last 12 months, and put in place some dedicated time to plan for 2016.
We’ve collated six top marketing trends, tips and insights from 2015 that can inform how you review your own marketing and that can help you plan for 2016.
Embrace the radical re-think
What works in marketing is changing constantly and changing fast. It can sound scary but don’t be afraid to review what you’ve been doing and decide that a good chunk of it simply hasn’t worked. Great! This means you can re-imagine what might work and start with a clearer focus.
You could begin this by sending out a customer impact survey. Focusing on “impact” can generate a more specific response than positioning your survey as simple customer “feedback”. Ask your customers directly how you impacted their business in 2015. You will learn some valuable things. Especially if the answer is: You didn’t. And for those whom you did impact, you’ll generate a powerful list of ongoing marketing goals than can inform your forward planning.
Take more time than usual to plan
This relates closely to point one. Don’t leap into reactive marketing changes. Set proper time aside. Diarise it. Gather whoever you need on this project (for example, Marketing Strategists at Mogrify!) and make sure you build in enough time for proper consultation and feedback – with the right people internally and externally.
A few solid days in the first month of the year can make the world of difference to how 2016’s marketing results will look. It will save a huge amount of time and stress.
Of course the plan can still morph and change throughout the year. But if you at least have a working document with key milestones, timelines and responsibilities then the task won’t be so overwhelming. Approaching the plan with a small chunk philosophy will help you achieve your big picture goals.
Sounds simple but many businesses are still failing to put their message out there on the platforms where customers are looking. You can’t expect that they will magically find you online just by having a nice website, some social media and a bit of advertising.
Customers are busy, they are multi-reading and multi-tasking. They will take time for you, but only if you appear where they are already looking, with something if relevance and interest. Some of this you can control (e.g. creating and publishing content, connecting on industry forums, getting involved with relevant communities both online and offline). Some you can’t (e.g. user reviews) – although you can monitor these and interact in a meaningful way.
Consumers are savvy researchers and they now seek out information in a range of ways. They may research to learn about a particular pain/challenge, product, service or event in general, or specifically to find out about a business. Make it easy for them to learn who you are, what you do and how you can help them.
Be your buyer
We never tire of saying this. It seems to take some businesses longer than others to cotton on. The ‘sales’ era of marketing died down some time ago. Our next big phase was ‘company’ or ‘brand’ marketing. And yes this is still in play, to a degree. But it is a much smaller degree than you think.
Put simply your marketing messages must tap into what your buyer wants and needs, not what you are trying to sell or tell. Parodies of sales and marketing strategies proliferate. Consumers know how it all it works now. They know you ultimately want to sell to them but what they demand is some genuine interaction and also to know you are the right fit for what they need.
You’ve heard of the buyer journey, a term that’s often overused and overcomplicated. You can’t predict where every individual buyer is at. But if you’ve done some research and planning you should have a sense of who your buyer is. Put yourself in their skin. What information will help them solve their problem, achieve their goal? From there, what will help them understand your product better, and how you can assist in the problem solving and goal achievement? Be personal, be specific. Your buyers are real people. Don’t treat them as if they are invisible money machines.
Bring marketing to the table in a positive way
Okay this insight surprised and delighted us. Because we love marketing! It’s about integrating marketing more fully into every aspect of your business and shining a more positive light on it within your organisation. We know that many professionals and practitioners are scared of marketing. They think it’s something that the (often siloed) marketing department does and they don’t know how to engage with them.
This isn’t about forcing everyone to become professional marketers. It’s about reminding your whole team that the relationship building and communicating they do with customers and each other every day is all part of marketing. It’s about creating a cohesive culture and all being on the same page. If you need to, get some expert consultation in to kick start this. Good marketing consultants can help you target what you’re doing and make it more effective – but they have to be practitioners themselves to truly understand this.
An added bonus to this insight is that your customers are also your marketers. We live in an economy of shared information now. If your customers love what you do they will talk about it online. You can ask them to do this directly (in a non-demanding way) and also track mentions out there online that you haven’t asked for. Every conversation about your business is a small cog in your marketing machine. The more positive interactions customers have with you the more smoothly the machine will run – and the more you will be found online.
Take the scientific approach
Because the marketing landscape changes so rapidly you must constantly test, measure and adjust. Campaigns you initiated at the start of this year on Facebook may already be outdated because of changes to the platform. Your monthly newsletter may not be generating much action on your website but four targeted email blasts a year might create a flurry of activity.
It starts with planning. Please know what results you want to achieve with marketing. The scatter and splatter approach rarely provides tangible outcomes. Once you know the things you want to measure, use the many analytics tools available to set up the metrics that will show you what you need to know.
The most important thing with this approach is not to get down about campaigns or strategies that don’t work. Be a scientist. Use every failed experiment as a way of getting closer to success. Repeat what works well, but don’t set and forget. Keep testing, measuring, adjusting, improving.
These six key trends from 2015 brought great success to a number of businesses and brands we know and work with. We hope you find a few gems in there to help you review your year and get set for some positive and effective marketing strategies in 2016.
Contact us today if you need help with setting your 2016 Marketing Strategy.