As we near the end of the year, everyone will be talking about which trends you should watch for in 2018. And they’ll make lofty predictions about all of them—which is fine. These kinds of things are gold if you want to get people worked up about how many more videos they should be making (trust me, “more video” is always a trend).
These trend spotters will say you’re not doing enough. You need more. More SEO. More Facebook Live. More optimization. Why aren’t you doing more?!
Of course, most of what they’ll say is true. There’s always room for more. And it all works—for them.
The truth is, there’s no one marketing strategy that will take your company to the moon just because someone said it works. Sure, there are indicators to help you make your best guess, but that doesn’t mean it works for your customers. And that’s all that matters. It might sound cool. The stats associated with it might be mind-blowing. But does it work for your business? Will it resonate with your customers?
The definitive answer is: Maybe.
You should definitely test new tactics. But, first and foremost, you should play to your strengths and double-down on the things you know work with your customers.
Focus on the Fundamentals
There’s always going to be room for new tricks and tactics. But progress doesn’t happen overnight or because something is trendy. It happens from the slow, steady work of building relationships with the right people. It’s slow. It’s methodical. It’s probably less sexy. But it works.
When everyone else is worried about what they’re not doing—and running around talking about doing more—you’ll be getting consistent results by doing more of what you’ve been doing. You have to keep your eye on the proven methods, the things you know make a difference for your customers and your business. Sure, it’s slower. But it’s the smarter play. It’s a bet on yourself, your knowledge, and your expertise.
Rather than figuring out new ways to game Facebook, Amazon, or Snapchat in 2018, why not work toward deepening the work you’ve already done? Here are four ideas:
1. Revisit Your Value Prop/Buyer Personas/Customer Journey Map
Think back to the time you created an incredible buyer journey map. Or maybe you’ve been operating with the same buyer persona assumptions for years.
Do these things still resonate with the right people? Could any of it be updated? Is your sales team on the same page? Are marketing and sales talking enough and sharing data? Does your content speak to ONE person about the ONE thing you do well? Are you telling true business stories that speak to your customers’ greatest challenges?
2. Document Your Marketing Plan and Strategy
People come and go. Plans change. Strategies work or don’t work. But are you keeping track? Does everyone know what’s going on, what’s changed, what’s different? Those with a documented strategy are more effective and face fewer challenges.
3. Repurpose, Don’t Recreate
When was the last time you did a content audit? If you can’t remember, now is the time. Find a handful of pieces that worked really well. (First, determine what “really well” means). Then, ask yourself why. What made it so successful? Then, figure out new ways to repurpose it. Oprah’s been doing an episode of Super Soul Sunday for years. She just released a book of the best advice to come from those interviews. That’s smart.
4. Talk to Your Customers
Good content is valuable because it helps people. It helps them solve problems, have revelations, spark new ideas, or answer questions. But you can’t know any of that if you’re not asking them. My favorite way to do this is to ask for case studies. Interview them. Get them talking. There’s no greater resource in your business than these conversations. And if you don’t have time? Call me. I’ll help.
Know What’s Possible, Practice What Works
Let’s face reality: if you’re chasing marketing trends in the new year, you’ve already lost. Someone is doing it better and faster than you anyway.
Does that mean you should stop testing? Does it mean you shouldn’t chase the next trend or try out the newest predictions? Possibly. Clearly, I’m not a fan of chasing things for the sake of chasing. It’s important to avoid jumping on the bandwagon because you read an article or someone else said you should. Keep in mind what your business needs to grow, do more of that, and measure any new opportunities against your own goals.
I have a customer who’s run (and tested) Facebook ads for two years. At this point, we know exactly which images and messages people respond to. I know that every month, for a specific amount of money, we can generate a specific return. And if we want to test new waters, we’re in a much more comfortable place to do so. Not because it’s trendy, not because it’s the next big thing, but because it adds value to what we’re already doing. It supplements what’s working without abandoning it.
Trying a new strategy or two next year is a conversation we’ll definitely have. But only if it makes sense for the values their company portrays, the customers they serve, and the image they’ve worked hard to cultivate.
So, take some time in the new year to go back to basics. Make sure your core strategy is solid. Make sure everyone in your company knows exactly who you’re serving and why. Then do more of that.
There’s always going to be a trend to chase, but in the end, your core customers don’t care. They just want more of what you do best. Here’s to a happy, more focused new year.