By now we have all read a handful of posts on marketing predictions for the New Year. While some predictions reflect trends and areas where marketers definitely need to look into, some are potentially more distracting than useful.
The marketing job never ends: there is always something else we could be doing to grow the business. Marketing is getting more and more complex. These two factors drive, today more than ever, the importance of focus.
The essence of focus are the things you will not do. Focus is about understanding the distractions, the buzzwords, the nice-to-haves and even the good opportunities that we must pass on to allow us to work on those activities that will have the best results.
This is why I wanted to share my Marketing Un-Predictions for the year:
- Mobile first is wrong. I am not saying to ignore mobile. I am suggesting we should kill mobile projects in lieu of thinking cross-device always. Today, there is no “mobile”: the line between smartphones, tablets and portable computers is blurred. Marketers must think cross-device (responsive design, device-neutral, cross-browser) from the beginning for all important channels: Websites to marketing campaigns should be designed for mobile and tablet and desktop and everything in-between.
- Digital marketing is dead. Completely dead. It’s like saying you have a digital computer or an electronic calculator. Even eCommerce is dead. The world is digital, your customers are digital, so your marketing should always be inclusive of digital. Not all digital: direct email, in-store, and other non-digital forms of marketing are important or critical, for certain industries of customers. But to think you need a digital marketing team or a digital marketing campaign that is separate from your mainstream marketing efforts is very 2010.
- Don’t hire a Chief Marketing Technologist. I am not arguing against the convergence of marketing and technology or ignoring the super-important need to get marketers working together with the teams that implement technology. While I am skeptical, there are not many people who can be good at marketing and technology implementation. The point is against the trend to create ‘Chief’ positions for every trend and buzzword. A recent article argued for a Chief Data Officer, then there is the Chief Privacy Officer , the Chief Mobile Officer and others. With so many chiefs what is the rest of marketing supposed to do? (read next un-prediction).
- Avoid the Content Marketing Department and fire the Social Media Team. The problem with creating a department and appointing a Chief for aspects of marketing that are fundamental, is that it relieves the rest of marketing from having to think about it. Everyone in marketing should think about social, digital and content marketing. Sure, you may want SMEs that educate, coordinate and promote best practices. But things like content marketing should and social amplification be embedded in the thinking of every person in marketing, not a team. After all, who can do marketing without content?
- Ignore Big Data. Big Data is an important technology that is misunderstood. The amount of nonsense packed into the term seems to double every three months. Data is important. Before focusing on big data get good data, actionable data, useful data – and make it a habit of understanding it. Making data useful is challenging (read the Mirage of Data for more on this), and making use of big data is harder than with little data. Start by talking directly to customers to get valuable insights. And please don’t hire a Chief Data Officer.
- Growth Hacking is just Good Marketing. My hat goes off to engineers in startups that figure ways to grow their business without large advertising budgets. But they are simply doing good marketing. There are a couple things every marketer should learn from growth hacking. But it is not a new discipline, nor is it predictable – many growth-hacking-oriented startups have had to close their doors. Marketers have a few things to learn from Growth Hacking.
- Facebook marketing is not social. For the most part, what companies promote on Facebook are promotions, self-serving information and one-sided communications. Let’s be clear: Facebook is a media company. Their business model is essentially the same as that of USA Today or NBC. They sell attention. Just like advertising on your local newspaper does not make you a publisher or a reporter, if you are buying ads on Facebook, Twitter or any other social marketing then you are advertising, not participating in social marketing. There are a couple Facebook marketing tactics that make sense. but advertising on social networks is just advertising. If you want to become a social business, read this.
- Engagement is meaningless. Engagement is probably the most dangerous word in marketing. Growing “customer engagement” is useless. For example, if customers ‘engage’ with your brand new website twice as much as with the past, is it success? Or could it be that customers spend more time on your site because they can’t find what they are looking for and leave in frustration? If engagement is good, why do most companies try to minimize the time they spend with customers on customer service calls? Not all engagement is bad, but engagement on its own is useless. Let’s get more specific about the quality and value of engagement and how it helps customers.
- Marketing in 2015 is going to be pretty much like marketing in 2014. The world is changing, no doubt. My blog is called the Adaptive Marketer for a reason. With so much change, smart marketers must be able to distinguish what is real, broad, fundamental change in our customers, in their behavior and in the way they consume information and learn from what are fake trends, niche opportunities, opinions and buzzwords.
Sometimes, the best marketing is simple, and based on long-established marketing fundamentals. Let’s get the basics right first. We need to be smart about where we place our bets and make sure we have covered our bases while we experiment to discover the future of marketing.