As every new year begins, you will find a spate of blogs and article on the marketing trends that may gain traction that year. Need to widen your lead generation funnel? Add video marketing to it. Worried about customer engagement? Use Instagram or Snapchat to tell your story. The advice is never ending, but the biggest problem is that the advice never comes with a dose of salt. No one ever tells you what NOT to do. Let’s face it though, as a new company you cannot do everything at once. In fact, we will be so bold to say that you should not even try to do everything, EVER.
Now that sounds like pessimism, right? Why should you not try every avenue to increase your business if your competition is doing the same? The short answer is that not all marketing trends or marketing tools work for every business. If your target audience is not on Instagram and does not like to buy products just by looking at a 1080px by 1080px picture with five filters on it, then there is no way this platform will work for you. And while trying to become the next best thing on Instagram or Snapchat or whatever it is that is making your marketing strategy wobble, you might be missing opportunities on platforms that could prove truly viable for you and your business.
So, take a deep breath and vow not to follow marketing trends blindly. Here’s why:
- You start trusting the crowd
And the crowd is not always doing the right or the best thing, nor is it helping your brand distinguish itself from the crowd. There is no sense in pursuing a marketing trend that might level off after some months. Instead, give it a while and see if the reality matches the buzz before jumping on the bandwagon.
- Your gains are short-lived
Despite the insurgence of digital marketing trends, the old traditional methods are still in play. They have proven their worth repeatedly. There is no harm in following a traditional method of marketing if it rakes in more for your brand than six months on an online platform might ever help you achieve.
- It makes your brand look confused
The content your brand creates might not be suitable for bite-sized pieces as needed by many online platforms. Trying to force fit your brand will only create a sense of confusion and impact your brand’s perception in the online space. It is always better to have a cohesive voice across all your marketing communication and bucking this trend can cost you a lot more than you could have imagined.
What are the trends you should be careful about adopting blindly?
Here is our list (by no means comprehensive, mind you) of some of the trends that brands try to follow without complete understanding and fail miserably when doing so.
- Following the ‘Buzz’
This happens a lot in brands that are content-oriented. While trying to be on top of the news, content curators follow the ‘buzz’ blindly without verifying facts or putting in enough research. So much so that most of the online content today has begun to look like a bad case of ‘CopyPaste’-opia. Instead of following the buzz, it is better to follow the facts and curate news and data that your audience will love to read. There is a limit to how much fluff intelligent minds can absorb online.
- Trying to make everything go ‘Viral’
I have heard this a lot in my course of work as a copywriter – ‘Write something that will go viral!’. An order barked by someone who has very little understanding of what marketing means and it is enough to make any marketing person go crazy.
’Viral’ in the online world is not a fever one spreads just by sneezing or coughing in someone’s face – for a piece of content to go viral requires many factors to sync up perfectly. But the first piece of the puzzle is that your content must be GOOD. Willing it to go ‘viral’ will not make it so. Instead, brands should always focus on creating awesome and authentic content that their audience loves, instead of going overboard and gimmicky trying to produce viral content.
- Always focusing on yourself
Brand videos are a great way to tell potential customer about what you do. There are umpteen blogs and how-to videos on this very topic online. The flipside of this is that talking about yourself all the time will make your audience feel like they do not count. On social media, for instance, it is a good thing to talk about your brand’s achievements but it is better to thank your customers and loyal brand followers for taking you to those heights. Remember to include your audience; cutting them out of marketing strategies that focus solely on the brand will not help you in any way.
- Following user ‘personas’ and not real life consumers
When you create a new brand, the first step is to define a user persona. As your brand grows, it is necessary to redefine (or let go, as the case may be) this user persona as well and understand the psyche of your actual, real life users. Talk to these people, conduct interviews, set up meetings, and ask for their honest opinion on important matters. These users are your brand champions, so instead of following an imaginary persona try and cultivate your own fanboy club which will always come to your aid when called.
The key to a successful marketing strategy
It does not exist. There is no one size fits all rule in the marketing world, and success is an amalgamation of hard work, dedication, and lots of creative thinking. Packing your marketing calendar with trends does not qualify as creative thinking, mind you. What does count is being aware of the trends on the horizon, and utilising these in a manner conducive to your brand’s growth. Virtual reality, for example, is a huge thing right now, but using a half-baked version of this will make your brand look gimmicky and opportunistic. If revolutionary was what you were gunning for, this would not be the way to do it!
So, do none of the trends work?
One cannot deny that some marketing trends do stick. Email has been around since the age of dinosaurs (or so it seems!). Videos are super helpful, and social media is the nagging aunt we all must live with. But it is up to you as a brand to decide when and how to use these tools. It is important that an online platform fits your brand and not the other way around. A brand that produces serious content cannot start producing humorous YouTube videos just because comedy sells online. It goes against the brand’s own carefully constructed persona.
Here’s an example of a marketing campaign that went hilariously wrong. In 2006, Sony created a fake fan site called ‘All I Want For X-Mas Is A PSP‘. It was a guerilla marketing technique to market the PSP. The change from Sony’s usual marketing tactic did not go well, however. The campaign was so transparent and ludicrous, that it drew the ire of video gamers and marketing gurus alike.
Marketing trends must be carefully analysed on merit. Avoiding them because it is too tasking is not the right answer, but following them blindly is not helpful either. A marketing trend must be used when it conforms to your brand and discarded when it does not. This is where market research comes into play.
The importance of market research for creating a brand strategy
It is often said that Knowledge is Power, but we often forget this. The market evolves and changes over the years and it is important to be in tune with these changes. This is where market research can help you up your game. By prying into the minds of your customers, you can learn a lot about their needs. A successful company provides its users with what they need before they even begin to feel the lack. Market research is the best way to do that.
This connects back to what I said about using hypothetical ‘user personas’ before. Use your research to drive traffic, create better products, and come up with a marketing strategy that your audience loves.
Your brand is unique and the marketing trends you use should announce that uniqueness without being shy. Your ideas don’t deserve to get lost in the melee, so, choose wisely dear padawan! And may the Force be with you.
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