It’s said that the only constant in life is change. For marketers, this is perhaps even more true. It’s been years since Facebook arrived on the scene and upended the world of digital marketing, and even that has continued to evolve as Facebook continuously tinkers with its algorithms and advertising practices.
And of course, you can’t forget about newer social media platforms like Snapchat. Or the abandonment of cable TV subscriptions for streaming services like Hulu or Netflix. Or the rise of Adblockers. If these aren’t clear indicators that advertising is undergoing one of the greatest shifts in the industry’s history, I don’t know what is. But what can you do to stay on top of these changes so you can continue to deliver solid marketing results? Here are some key practices that will help you deal with our continuously changing industry:
One of the first steps to ensuring that you’re ready to handle change is to remove the constraints that prevent you from altering your methods and processes. After all, the methods that deliver solid marketing results today could easily be outdated by the end of the year. If you don’t have the capacity to quickly adapt, you’ll soon fall behind your competition.
Because of this, many companies have implemented tactics such as agile methodology and lean manufacturing to remove the roadblocks to change. With agile methodology, companies put their primary focus on the facets of their business that are most important to their customers. If a particular practice is impeding customer satisfaction, they find ways to alter their methods to deliver better results. Similarly, lean manufacturing focuses on improving the end result by eliminating processes that don’t add value to the company’s offerings.
Both of these methods require a willingness to self-examine one’s processes and results and identify when changes need to be made. In marketing, new tech has made it easy to track analytics data and other information that helps us gauge the effectiveness of our marketing messages. Don’t be afraid to inject some flexibility into your processes. All too often, a convoluted process that is resistant to change is what holds us back from achieving better results for our clients.
Focus on the Big Picture
With any marketing trend, it’s important to pay attention to how it will impact your company as a whole—not just your advertising. Your company’s overarching goals should be the backbone of any marketing effort you undertake, which can yield different results for different types of businesses. After all, while Snapchat advertising may be the perfect solution for a millennial-focused brand, it’s unlikely to be effective when you’re trying to market a senior living center. But far too often, marketers will attempt to dive into a new trend without focusing on the big picture—or what a particular method can actually accomplish for their clients.
How do you avoid this surprisingly common pitfall to effective change? Make sure you’re focused on the right goals. In an article for Kissmetrics, Kathryn Aragon noted, “I always start with my end goal, and work backwards…By deciding what needs to be focused on first, second, etc., I essentially create a road map for reaching the goal I’ve set. Using my list of priorities as a guide, I focus on one step at a time. New ideas may be considered, but if they could get priorities out of order, they have to wait their turn.”
As you use your company’s primary goals to guide your approach to change, you can ensure that new marketing ideas you incorporate into your strategy will be appropriate and effective. This way, you can avoid investing time and money into old strategies that are no longer effective or new strategies that simply aren’t right for your brand.
Finally, any marketer who wants to have success dealing with change needs to be willing to devote time to monitoring the latest industry trends. This requires a bit more work than simply skimming through Adweek every few days. An alert marketer should be on the lookout for new tools and resources that make it easier to create effective messaging, as well as up-and-coming platforms that provide new opportunities for reaching target audiences.
Set aside some time each week to conduct industry research. Dive deep into authoritative marketing blogs and investigate new marketing apps and tools. Scouring Twitter can help you identify trending topics and more easily identify which marketing methods are gaining traction. As you do this, you’ll be better equipped to become an early adopter of new techniques, rather than get left behind your competition.
The world of marketing will continue to change at a rapid pace. But as you remove the constraints that keep you from adapting your methods, channel change through a “big picture” funnel, and consistently monitor the industry, you’ll put yourself in a position to make correct decisions moving forward.