Did you know America’s top two New Year’s resolutions are to eat less and exercise more?
In marketing, I think you’ll agree that the big two are likely to spend less and earn more. Keep that in mind as you contemplate your marketing strategy for 2019, but don’t wait until January 1st to kick your professional resolutions into gear. The time to begin revamping your marketing strategy is now, and the following nine fundamentals are critical considerations when laying your strategic foundation.
1. Take a Hard Look at Your Brand
It happens to all marketing directors who have been entrenched with a brand for years: They get “too close” to it. They begin to take certain things for granted, lose sight of the brand’s big picture, and allow their marketing to grow stale.
So, as you move toward making 2019 a vibrant year, take an initial step back and force yourself to look at your brand with a fresh perspective - as if you’re experiencing your first touchpoint with it.
Ask, how does the brand make you “feel?” Is it authentic? Does the marketing immediately communicate the brand promise and consumer benefits inherent in that promise?
2. Spy on Your Competitors
A vital ingredient for marketing success is understanding your competitors’ positions on the category landscape. However, as marketing folks, we can get so mired in our own strategies and daily tasks that we don’t have sufficient time to comprehensively tap into our competitors’ motives and executions. Friends, you need to make that time.
Study where competing brands are going, and where they’ve been. By connecting those dots you can potentially predict what their marketing strategies for 2019 might be. Competitive marketing is a game of chess, and staying a few moves ahead of your adversary is the checkmate for your brand.
3. Ask Some Kids
Are you willing to take marketing advice from a child? You should be, especially if your brand operates within a category that is NOT youth-oriented and already skewed. The reason is simple: Youngsters are digital-natives who are highly tuned into content trends.
If asked some fundamental questions about your brand, those kids will give it to you straight. They won’t sugar-coat their reactions to appease you. The information you glean from a youthful demographic just might inspire that “Aha” moment that affects your marketing strategy as you revamp for 2019.
4. Weigh Your Content Performance
With a clear picture of your brand’s essence as it relates to your competitors’ strategies, you gain a heightened understanding of your own metrics on content performance. It helps answer the question “Why?”
WHY did a certain digital ad pull more clicks? WHY did a brand video find more eyeballs? WHY did an email subject line trigger more openings?
5. Fine-Tune Your Brand Voice
Having the answers to your WHY questions will help you repeat your successful marketing efforts by dialing in the precise message and tone that delivered the desired results. Sometimes the results are quite expected based on your brand’s promise to fulfill your customers’ emotional or logical needs.
Other times, a big success can surprise you and leave you scratching your head over why the content was so impactful. Perhaps the impact was from the emotive feel of a stock image used in an online campaign or social media post. Or the quality of a voice-over talent or music bed in video content. The point is, diving into the tiniest nuances of your marketing can reveal the “special sauce” that appeals to your customers’ tastes.
6. Leverage Testimonials
What glowing praise did you receive in 2018 that sets your brand apart from all others?
Too many marketers gladly accept the pat on the back but don’t properly implement the positive testimony. Regard each testimonial like a snowball that you can roll down an arctic mountainside. When given the right “push” down your marketing channels, it’ll grow in size and momentum.
As you revamp for 2019, think about the best ways to exploit your brand’s success stories. Maybe you create a vignette video series for your website and YouTube channel. Or perhaps a creative meme campaign fits the bill. Whatever the execution, remember that one customer’s praise can pay dividends for other consumers seeking the same solutions.
7. Change Your Daily Routines
Sometimes a marketing rut is a tough trench to exit. The best way to do it is to force-shift your thinking, and a surefire way to do that is to change your routines. For example, if the usual approach within your marketing team means gathering in the conference room to brainstorm or problem-solve, change it up!
Let’s say the weather outside is delightful. Then call your meeting off-site at a park or lake shore. Combine it with good food or some clever activities. Make it FUN! Because you’ll get much better ideas from your crew when they’re smiling at one another vs. staring blankly across a laminated table under fluorescent light. Be creative. That’s what marketing is all about.
8. Invite Dumb Ideas
As long as you’re changing up your routine, try this within your group dynamic: Challenge each member of your team to come up with the dumbest idea they can think of. Invite them to be as absurd as possible. When you do, something wonderful happens. A dumber-than-dumb idea flips a light switch in someone else, who usually begins their newfound idea with the words “What if we…”
That detour in thought then ignites another idea, and so on. When the dust settles on the meeting, you just might find yourself in uncharted territory that can take your brand in new, exciting directions.
9. Change Nothing?
Imagine you’re the marketing director for LaCroix. Your flagship brand occupies spot number one in the sparkling water category.
Your logo, brand guidelines, and messaging haven’t been “revamped” for years, while Pepsi's Bubbly, Coke's Dasani, and all the other sparkling water brands keep trying to reinvent themselves to chisel away some of your share.
What do you do? You stay the course, and let the others overspend and erode themselves in their frustration.
Not all of us have the luxury of owning the kind of category leadership that allows us to do, well, nothing. For the rest of us, our marketing is always in a state of strategic revamping. And every year marks an opportunity for monumental gains in customers and brand loyalty.
Here’s to 2019 being that year for you. Cheers!