marketing framework

The marketing world is always changing. New tools, platforms, and concepts emerge as brands look for different ways to attract and engage customers.

For me, 2017 was highlighted by shifts in focus (small businesses vs. startups), new services, a new projects such as a video course, and clients that came in fits and spurts. Needless to say, it involved many lessons and difficult decisions to stay relevant and top-of-mind.

Here are some personal thoughts about how marketing in 2018:

Marketing is hard and it’s getting harder. Brands are pummeling consumers with content, social media, advertising, events, email marketing, influencers and more. As a consumer, it is hard not to feel overwhelmed. To establish connections and relationships, brands will need to be more creative, personalize their offers, highlight experiences and take risks.

Storytelling still matters. To be honest, I’ve gone back and forth recently on storytelling. While I’m a storytelling advocate, it often feels like storytelling is a nice-to-have for brands rather than a need-to-have. That said, I have faith in storytelling and will continue to wave the flag and harness its power in my work. Stories capture the spotlight and attract key stakeholders (customers, employees, investors, partners, media) to your brand and product. Check out the winners of AdWeek’s 2017 Arc awards, which recognize the best storytelling brands.

AI will have an impact on marketing but it’s unclear how much: Almost overnight, AI is making marketing easier and automated. AI can power customer service, outreach, and data-driven decision-making. But will AI make it easier to create content and replace writers? It’s already happening as Sujan Patel points out in an in-depth article. How else do you think AI will disrupt marketing this year?

Quality content matters but it’s a challenge to get an audience: Simply put, there’s too much content generated. Every brand is pumping out content in the hope that some of it will resonate. So what do brands do? Maybe quality is long-form content. Maybe quality is great insight such as what Seth Godin does every day on his blog. At the end of the day, good content is content that meets the needs and interests of target audiences. Do that and you’re good to go.

Brands will take a long, hard look at whether social media is really effective. Many brands use a variety of social media platforms because many other brands use a variety of social media platforms. No one, for example, wants to ignore Facebook when it has more than two billion users. The same goes for Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Pinterest. It’s a classic case of FOMO.

But here’s the thing: for many brands, social media doesn’t work well. It doesn’t engage customers, attract leads or drive sales. At some point, these brands should take decide whether social media is worth the investment. It’s better to focus on what works rather than going through the motions for no rewards.

Product is king. Great marketing and wonderful storytelling can amplify a brand’s aura and awareness but it can’t hide a bad product. It’s like putting lipstick on a pig. At some point, the lipstick disappears and you’re kissing a pig. As a marketer, the best marketing is a product that consumers need, use and talk about. When a product delights, it creates an army of third-party marketers who ooze with authenticity and believability.

You pay for what you get. There are plenty of free and cheap marketing and sales tools. They look good and it sounds like they do a great job. But from personal experience, free or inexpensive equals “product lite”. At some point, their utility hits a ceiling. Then, you have to find something better and likely more expensive to meet your needs. I’m sure there are great, inexpensive tools but a growing number of companies are asking and getting higher prices, particularly as venture capital becomes more challenging to attract.

It will be tougher for new marketing tools to break through. Whenever I look at this infographic of the marketing technology landscape, it makes me wonder how brands stand out. It is harder for companies to create marketing tools that are different, unique or better. A lot of the low-hanging fruit has disappeared. Every marketplace is ultra-competitive, which means tools need to delight from a variety of angles to attract an keep customers.

So, what do you think? What are some the key trends that you see for marketing in 2018? Leave a comment or post your thoughts on social media.

I make marketing work for fast-growing companies..and companies looking to grow faster.

Through strategic and tactical services, I create marketing that drives brand awareness, customer engagement and sales growth. My approach to marketing is underpinned by storytelling, creativity, and proven frameworks. I also offer coaching services for entrepreneurs looking for strategy and tactical guidance.

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