Of course, predictions are an inherently risky business so we cannot fault people for getting some wrong, but we can fault them if they fail to fully test their predictions or promote them with ulterior motives. Too often, marketing trends are pitched with little understanding of the nuances and hard work required for success. They are usually hyped in the broadest of ways, as if every brand in every vertical targeting every audience has an equal opportunity to avail themselves of every hot new idea. And my greatest concern is the way so many "hot" trends are promoted with an urgency designed to infect marketers with FOMO (fear of missing out) by those who, of course, are only too happy to offer the cure.
Marketers love to be on the cutting edge, but our obsessive need to exploit the latest hype can get in the way of building strong, enduring brands if we do not strike the right balance between innovative strategies and the sensible, boring approaches that we know work. Investing in trends is sexier than relying on the tried and true, but they are also riskier bets. Snapchat may or may not be right for your brand, but email is becoming an increasingly overlooked workhorse for marketers. Social commerce may be buzzworthy, but good ol' organic search drives 800% more e-commerce transactions. And turning your brand into a publisher may be all the rage, but marketers must never forget the customer is king and customer experience is what drives loyalty and word of mouth.
To figure out what marketing trends are right for your brand, ask three questions and be sure you know the answers before you act:
- Why will my customers and prospects care? Be brutal and honest--"because it's fun" or "because we'll be the first in the industry to exploit this platform" are not valid answers that result in awareness, interest, and interaction. The way to ensure customers will care and engage is to serve a need they have along their customer journey with your brand.
- How will I measure a change in actions or attitude? Again, be realistic, because "being top of mind" or "buzzworthy" is not the same as affecting improvements in customer actions and opinions. Your brand's viral video may attract a lot of eyeballs for being funny, but if viewers' buying behaviors or brand affinity is not altered, then that was not an effective marketing tactic. Innovative trends may lack the same easy means to measure success as do mature marketing strategies, but a pilot isn't a pilot unless you can measure whether it produces business results.
- Is my brand prepared to do it right? Do you have the skills, resources, data and systems to mitigate risks and execute properly? Brands that fail to appropriately execute "hot" trends can do more harm than good. For example, companies that launched Facebook profiles with the intention of broadcasting information rather than engaging were shamed by customers irate that the brand talked at them rather than listening and supporting them. Doing Facebook right requires tools, processes, and staff, and the same is true of the hot marketing trends hyped for 2017.
To explore how these questions may pertain to live video and influencer marketing and whether your brand can exploit these opportunities in 2017, please continue reading on my Gartner blog.