All aboard the hype train
You’ve seen it all before.
The new year rolls around and, soon enough, your go-to channels are flooded by must watch marketing trends articles and industry prophecies.
Brands scramble aboard the gravy train, some succeed, most fail...
And the cycle starts all over again.
Now, I’m not saying that monitoring trends is a bad thing per se. In fact, for brands on social media it’s kinda part and parcel of growing a successful account.
At SupaReal we like to keep up to date with everything that’s penetrating the industry.
It’s certainly food for thought - and a window for content ideas. It’s a chance to educate ourselves and gauge where audience demands lie.
But mixed messages and flawed forecasts - from sources claiming to know where the next big thing(!) is coming from - can damage your brand and your business.
There will always be substance behind these proclamations, predictions and projections - especially those backed up by data. However it’s easy to fall into the trap of chasing loose trends, empty promises and false idols.
Marketers are guilty of making snap decisions, adopting expensive technologies and flash in the pan social channels that bring little or no return on investment.
Just like buying that edgy pair of trainers that looked awesome on the website, but don’t really go with any of your outfits and make your feet look clunky - some marketing innovations are better off remaining an interesting concept, than becoming reality (for the time being at least).
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
Sutton, the co-author of Enterprise Marketing Management: The New Science of Marketing continues...
“That said, some of the shiny objects do actually change the world, given the right market conditions and some patience. And for marketers, this is where things actually get interesting.”
Marketers who can nail the basics, realise the importance of brand, and have a keen eye for the consumer climate, have every chance of doing something exceptional.
“Great brands don’t chase trends”
They just don’t.
Instead they take a long hard look at what everyone else is doing, the thing they’re chasing, and map out an alternative route. They make their own trends.
Because with all of that competition out there, why join the rat race?
In an interview with Harvard Business Review, brand-building thought leader, and author of What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles That Separate the Best from the Rest, Denise Lee Yohn brings clarity to this discussion.
Bucking the bandwagon
Yohn picks up on Chipotle Mexican Grill, who challenged the lower price, bigger quantity fast food trend of the 90s by introducing higher quality ingredients, fresh food, restaurant experience superior to other fast food chains.
Chipotle were the first fast food chain to really tap into the consumer desire for ‘food with integrity’ - and led a consumer movement towards healthier, more sustainable food consumption, which helped the business grow into the 21st Century.
Yohn then touches on two techniques brands and their marketers can use to strike up a healthy balance between trendy and disruptive.
Scanning: Following developments outside of your immediate industry e.g. global rental car companies sole focus was on rental trends, whereas brands like Uber looked towards digital and the growing presence of mobile apps in order to anticipate something disruptive.
Listening: Brands will keep a close eye on trends through social media and other content channels. But those looking for the credible and the possible need to focus less on WHAT is being said and more on WHY it’s being said and WHO it’s being said by.
Innovation comes when brands break the mould. Whether that be through cross-industry collaborations or a unique take on an existing trend, there’s opportunity to deliver relevant, progressive campaigns (and movements), that build lasting affinities between brand and audience.
Be strong, be you
It all comes down to identifying your brand. What does it stand for?
Match different innovation areas with that identity, and search for things that advance what you’re trying to do in terms of purpose and mission.
It’s important to accept that exciting new technologies and approaches won’t always be the right fit for your brand. Don’t sell yourself to every opportunity, learn to say ‘No’ and stay true to the identity you’ve forged for your brand.
Watch the full interview below:
Separating reality from fads and false promises
Early adoption in marketing can go one of two ways. It’s a great way to get ahead of the game. But it doesn’t come void of risks and pitfalls.
It’s not always Peachy.
When social network Peach was first announced in 2016, the hype was real. There was talk of it bringing a whole new dimension to social media marketing - and marketers stood up like meerkats.
But things don’t always work out as you’d expect…
“Peach got a groundswell of media attention and cracked the top 100 most popular free iTunes apps. By January 12, we already had our requisite Digiday article about how brands like Asos, J.Crew, and Merriam-Webster were jumping on the network. But today, Peach is essentially dead, nowhere to be seen among the top apps on iTunes.” - Joe Lazauskas, Contently
Those early adopters, who’d zealously assumed the best for Peach, were left red-cheeked, tail between their legs. Fads and/or over-hyped new arrivals are becoming more common, and it’s important that marketers can separate them from genuine trends.
The video movement
In contrast, 2016 was a big year for video marketing.
And it’s no surprise when we were constantly hit with statistics like these…
- Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined
- Companies using video enjoy 41% more web traffic from search than non-users
- Video on landing page can increase conversions by 80% or more
With human attention spans dropping to 8.25 seconds, is video not just the most digestible content format available to marketers? While its growth in marketing is a trend, it’s also more than that. It stands as an explicit example of the state of things. Its ability to tap into multiple senses (sight, sound etc) makes it far more emotive, far more real to its audience.
When a trend is fuelled by a deeper shift in the way buyers behave and engage with marketing messages - that’s when you need to act.
The clout of video is a reality. That being said, when it comes to content marketing, quality wins (62% of consumers are more likely to have a negative perception of a brand that published a poor quality video).
Simply knocking together a video - just because you’ve acknowledged the trend - doesn’t mean you’ll make waves. Just like all other content, it needs to be unique, it needs to be meaningful and it has to put a different spin on the norm.
Check out more video marketing statistics from Adelie Studios below:
The trends you need to follow
We’re in an industry that’s never static.
New approaches, new technology, new messages. Every day.
Modern, metamorphic B2B buyers and evangelised industry influencers keep us on our toes.
Yet many marketers are ignoring the basics…
"Successful marketing requires focus, sustained energy and commitment. The opportunity cost of perpetually chasing the next bright shiny object disrupts and distracts from other important priorities." - Dave Sutton
Strategy in marketing is absolutely crucial. It’s enduring.
The trends that really matter are the ones that sit in your database.
Your brand is unique - and so is your marketing strategy. Only your team knows what works (and what doesn’t) for your audience, so why not tap into this ready-made bank of knowledge?
If you’re keen to make bigger and better noises in 2017, work on reinforcing your existing foundations and own what you’re good at. Make calculated, measured changes to your overall approach. Audit your content. Define what success means on social media.
Turn your weaknesses into strengths.
Test, test, test. Optimise, optimise, optimise.
Don’t be afraid to harness trends, but pick your battles wisely
And if you do come across an industry trend that ticks all the right boxes?
Dave Sutton suggests that...
“If something shows potential, then you can expand it and incorporate it into your overall marketing mix and adjust your goals accordingly. Build a culture that rewards learning fast and failing fast. Hire people who exhibit intellectual curiosity and recognize them for it.”