We aren’t particularly keen on the term ‘trend’ since it often signifies something that’s only cool or interesting for a short period of time. And while many companies can afford to experiment in this arena, other businesses have to be mindful of focusing on more solid strategies.
As we enter the new year, here are three things that we know are relevant and won’t lose traction come Q2 of 2016:
This sounds more simple that it is. Many brands work endlessly to appeal to the masses. You know the whole, “We can be everything to everyone” mantra. More often than not though, this does not work.
Here’s a perfect example. We have a real estate brokerage client who is downright hip. Their brand, their office, their agents, the technology they use screams fresh and modern. Initially, their brand strategy was to appeal to the masses – various demographics in a variety of areas. They couldn’t understand why it wasn’t working for them.
When we sat down with the client to learn more about their current strategy, it didn’t take long for us to illustrate why this ‘one size fits all’ approach was disjointed and not producing the results they were hoping to obtain. So, we worked with them to shift their position.
We not only identified ‘who they were,’ but also ‘who they were not’ as a brand. We built this into their advertising, marketing and general company culture.
We conveyed this via messaging and visuals that were conducive to their brand. And guess what happened? They started seeing the traction that was lacking from their initial approach. This example isn’t just applicable to real estate. It’s an exercise we go through with clients from various industries.
Similar to humans, brands can only ‘fake’ it for so long before their true colors shine through. Our advice? Stop faking it. Take a look at what value your business provides and to what audience. Focus your energy on conveying this versus ‘working on’ who or what you think your audience wants you to be.
Not only will this philosophy be beneficial to your brand, but it will also save you the embarrassment of consumers seeing through the fakeness. In today’s world, there is nothing that people hate more than feeling misled.
Don’t Follow the Masses.
Even if your business is thriving (and we hope it is), frivolous, non-strategic spending is never a good thing. Here are two recent conversations we had with two different clients from two different industries that drives this point home.
Our client, who runs three very successful restaurants, said they wanted to take money from email marketing to launch a paid, online advertising campaign – Google AdWords and Facebook. We asked them a question we often ask, “Why?” Their answer – because other restaurants are doing it.
So, we dug into analytics and reporting and shared with them that a great deal of their business was stemming from their email marketing campaigns. People were not only opening their emails, but also sharing them and citing them when they came into the restaurant. These patrons were also repeat customers, visiting the restaurant on average two times per month.
We posed the question, “Why would we stop doing something that is working to do something simply because our competitors are?” One thing that businesses often forget is that doing something different is what is actually contributing to their success.
So, what did we do? Our client respected our recommendation and didn’t pull money away from email marketing. Instead, we allocated a small portion of their budget to ‘test’ the online advertising that interested them. The moral of the story: don’t ever stop doing something that is bringing in money and growing your business because of “shiny object syndrome” (i.e. wasteful distractions).
Now, onto our second client. We had a similar conversation with a real estate brokerage who expressed an interest in ceasing print marketing to buy online leads. We knew from managing the company’s marketing for months that 90 percent of their buyers and sellers were coming from a solid farming strategy and referral and repeat business. The client explained they read an article that ‘print is dead.’ So, we went to work and presented the client with ‘hard’ facts. Based on a tracking system we had set up from day one, we were able to share metrics that illustrated the success they had from their print marketing campaign.
Here’s how we explained it to them. Everyone in their market was obsessed with online marketing (paid ads, buying leads). They had a unique advantage, as they had delved into (and thrived) in the opposite end of the spectrum. Again, signifying that doing the same is not always advantageous.
Why be where everyone else is when you could shine doing something consumers aren’t seeing everyday?
Like with our restaurant client, the real estate brokerage stuck with what was working and growing their business. No two businesses are the same, so why would their marketing strategy be the same? Three words: it should not.
Invest In Content.
We’ve all heard the saying ‘content is king.” Well, guess what? This saying will hold true well into 2016. In addition to our own internal observations, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any statistics that support the contrary.
Like with any type of marketing, your unique market, business model and objectives play a role in what will work (and won’t work), but one thing is clear: consumers adore content. It makes them trust and feel connected to a brand. It makes them see a brand as a subject matter expert.
Another thing that we love about content marketing is that besides being an asset to growing your client base and brand, it is also extremely helpful to search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines have become smarter over the decades. Long gone are the days that copying and pasting an article to your website provided benefits (now it results in the complete opposite, like a virtual slap on the wrist). Google loves unique, relevant and meaningful content and will reward your website accordingly.
Whether you implement content marketing via blog posts, case studies, email marketing, press releases, short videos or infographics, you’ll see positive results with both prospective and current clients, along with search engines like Google.
To execute a solid content marketing strategy, start with a calendar.
- How often will you write?
- What channels will you use to circulate your content?
- What metrics will you use to measure the results?
- Will you need outside assistance to efficiently execute your plan?
- Are you taking into account both the reader and search engines?
We encourage you to kick off the year with a rocking content marketing plan. You have our word that it will be worth its weight in gold. Unsure of where to start? Get in touch! This is the sort of thing that gets us out of bed in the morning.