Is email marketing still relevant in the golden age of social media? Is marketing automation an efficient tool or an impersonal, lazy waste of money?
How do you know when the next hot marketing trend is hype or the very thing you need to take your sales or membership numbers to the next level?
It’s easy to be swept up by experts breathlessly touting “The Top 3 Marketing Trends to Jump On Now or DIE!” Nobody wants to be left in the dust while competitors cozy up to customers and rake in the bucks. If you get swept up in trend hype panic, know there’s an effective antidote: a calm, clear-eyed assessment of what’s right for your organization.
First, ask the million dollar question: Does the marketing trend align with your strategic goals?
What is the strategic vision for your company this year? What are your quarterly/annual goals? Will the marketing trend move you closer to either? Social media, for example, is a perennial hot topic. It’s also an undoubtedly powerful marketing tactic. But you must choose wisely or risk an ineffective, scattershot approach that wastes your time and energy. If your corporate security clients aren’t hanging out on Facebook (the largest social platform) or Instagram (the fastest growing channel), who cares if they’re hot? Posting an article on LinkedIn isn’t as sexy as a viral YouTube video…until that article raises your company’s profile and brings in hot leads that convert to customers.
Next, evaluate the marketing trend with this three-tiered “if not, then” test:
1. How quickly will the marketing tool pay for itself in ROI?
Email and marketing automation are both examples of investments that can have a big pay off…but not necessarily right away. Email is still one of the best ways to deliver customized, relevant content to your list of carefully curated addresses. Don’t be surprised, though, when you need to keep up a steady stream of compelling content over time before your email readers decide to bite.
Marketing automation can help you synchronize your efforts across social media, blogs, email, and more. But it’s not a “set and forget” operation. You need to track audience engagement and possibly adjust your strategy for optimum effect.
With both email and automation, there may be a delay in bottom-line benefits as you tweak your tactics for best results.
2. If there’s not an immediate ROI, how quickly will the marketing tool earn its keep in saved man hours?
If you can’t see the payoff right away, do you save yourself some labor costs? Marketing automation illustrates this point. When you automate the tedious tasks required to reach the right people at the right time, you free yourself and your staff to focus on running your organization.
3. If it doesn’t save time, does the marketing trend make you a better brand? Does it inspire customer loyalty or increase people’s belief in you as a strategic partner?
Video content is the rage right now and for the foreseeable future. Gurus warn that if you don’t ride this trend, your brand will end up alone in the wilderness. But even with technology costs dropping, a well-produced video can be a stretch for a small organization’s budget.
It may be worth the expense if your company is not well known and you want to create a high-impact introduction to the market. Sales may rise if potential customers see a video that explains how to use your product or shows satisfied customers giving positive testimonials. If video is a prime avenue to reach your target demographic, consider becoming part of the trend.
Remember this when you start to sweat over missing out on THE latest and best trend–there is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. The best strategy takes into account your product or service, staff and budget, and target market. No matter what is trending now, there are plenty of effective, creative approaches to choose from. With thoughtful analysis, you can always choose the one that works the best for your organization.
Still not sure which tactics are right for your marketing strategy? Contact us to help you hit the sweet spot with a customized plan to attract your target audience.