Every year, I check out the industry press round-ups of trend predictions. Most mention some new technology, technology that will ‘come of age’, how we should focus on the customer, how to make better use of data and how the role of the marketer will change.
As marketers, we are often looking for something ‘new and shiny’. But I strongly believe that trying to predict what the next 12 months will deliver is a distraction.
Regardless of technological changes and new gimmicks, we need to remember the fundamentals of marketing, the importance of getting to know our customers and creating solutions that satisfy their needs and wants.
Here’s some thoughts on how to refocus and refine your marketing activity for the coming year.
- Get the basics right. It’s too easy to ‘dive in’ to a marketing tactic without having the basics in place. You need to know why you get out of bed in the morning to do what you do, and set goals for your business.
- Get organised and be prepared. By planning ahead, you can nail your day-to-day use of social media for business into under 10 minutes. Take a look at my resources for social media planning.
- Be realistic. You can’t control everything and change is inevitable, but only consult credible sources for information and consider what they mean for your business before you get involved. Avoid the ‘chinese whispers’ of advice that do not link to an original source of evidence.
- Plan for change. Are your SWOT [Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats] and PESTLE [Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental] analyses up to date? Don’t forget to regularly review the impacts that the wider environment may have on your business – and refine your marketing plans if necessary.
- You have the answers in your own data. When is the best time to post on Twitter? What social media platform is the most effective for engaging your customers? Figure out what is working and how your audience is responding to your marketing activity by using tools such as Google Analytics and social media native analytics.
- Focus on your reputation. Always think before you post; so much business is generated by referrals, your personal brand is important. Have a personal social media policy and understand the guidelines of your employer and best practices within your industry. For example, what will others think if you argue with a competitor, or tell someone their LinkedIn post is more suitable for Facebook? This often reflects more negatively on the commentator than the person who originally posted.
- Put people first. We have the technology, but social media should not ever replace face-to-face conversation. You can read more in one of my top performing LinkedIn posts.
- Automate to free up time. It’s OK to schedule core posts and free up time to focus on other tasks and engagement. Many useful tools, such as Hootsuite or Facebook’s built-in scheduler are free or low-cost. Google has some great chrome extensions that can be life-changing for a social media manager.
- Where is your audience? If I asked a client if they wanted to advertise on every commercial radio station, they wouldn’t do it. Not just because of the cost, but because it wouldn’t effectively reach their target audience. Social media is no different, it’s a marketing channel and if your audience is not there, then don’t do it! My LinkedIn Learning courses on ‘Marketing Foundations: Targeting’ and Social Media Marketing Return on Investment (ROI) go into these topics in more detail.
- There are no quick wins. Focus on strategy, aim for sustainable growth, play the long game and don’t waste your time seeking silver bullet solutions. Have a plan and stay focused.
This post first appeared as a guest post for Global Marketing Alliance in December 2017.
It has been updated December 2018 and reviewed December 2019.