It's common practice at the end of any year to take a look back as well as a look at what's to come. What worked what didn't work for your business? What are the "trends" for 2016? What trends are no longer effective?
As I take a look back at this year, I also reflect on my years as a marketer working with small businesses. In a market that is changing at nothing slower than 100 miles an hour, it's vital to look back more than just once a year. And honestly, it can be intimidating!
That being said, through all of the noise I find I am constantly focusing on three main concepts. The three things I'm taking away from 2015 and bringing with me in 2016 are:
- First and foremost, you have to actually connect with people. It's not about selling, it's about connecting.
- Nothing is perfect. It's better to get your idea out there and try it, analyze it and adjust. Taking the time to perfect every last little detail doesn't give you any feedback on how your audience is interacting with it.
- There is no rule book. Marketing is always changing- which means the "rules" are always changing and that, really, there are no rules. You have to find what works for YOUR business. That always has been- and always will be- the case.
What does connecting with people even mean? Connecting means that you share something with someone- whether it's an interest, an emotion, a belief, etc.
You still need to know best practices for platforms and be on top of new trends- but how you stay on top of those things will vary depending on what your business is. You need to understand what your audience is doing. How are they evolving? What do they believe in? What do they distrust? How are they continuing to communicate? All of these things are changing constantly and in order to genuinely connect, you need to know the answers to these questions and more.
I am still amazed by how many marketers don't measure their tactics. There's this mentality that people just need to go, go, go and just keep up, so much so that no one's stopping to take a look around and wonder why they are doing this.
Before you begin any tactic you need to have appropriate analytics in place to measure your tactics. What's working? What isn't? What can you tweak? Did it improve or get worse?
Every single business is different. While you can study and understand best practices for any given tactic or medium, you won't know how your audience reacts to it until you measure your performance. Get it up there and let it fly!
3. Screw the rules
There are no rules in marketing. Look at the most noteworthy marketing campaigns over the past 100 years. What makes them noteworthy? Nine times out of ten it's because it's something no one ever did before. It had never been done and the core of why it worked is because it connected with someone.
The more you know your audience and the more you know your business, the more you will know what the right risks to take are when you see them.
What will marketing be like in 2016? In 2026? In 100 years?
Honestly, I have no idea. No one does.
What I can conclude from looking at marketing's past, is that for every new way to communicate, marketing quickly catches up and finds a way to interject itself in there. Because of this people hate what we've come to know as advertising. Therefore, people keep evolving to find new ways to communicate, research and buy without main stream marketing. It's a vicious cycle that I think, in some ways, will always exist.
My advise- don't get caught up in it. Stay true to your business, your customers and their wants and needs and stay creative.
What's your take?