By Ed Pierce, ITA Fleet Communications
I was planning to tackle the topic of marketing fads this month. Like the phrase “I HEART (city, thing or animal of your choice), repeated “ad nauseum” until the novelty wears off, fads fade away.
Annie Zelm of Kuno Kreative beat me to the punch; however, and I’d like to share some of her caveats, which are important considerations for your company’s own marketing strategy:
Companies can be so eager to keep up with the latest technologies and ideas they don’t always take into account whether they truly fit the mission. Here are some of the worst offenders I’ve seen:
THE GRAPEFRUIT DIET— A SINGLE STRATEGY SOLUTION
The grapefruit diet has been around for decades, but it seems we still haven’t learned we can’t live on citrus fruit alone. Nor should marketers rely entirely on a single marketing strategy while neglecting others. Some businesses lean so heavily on social media that they’ve significantly reduced their efforts in inbound marketing, public relations, email marketing, direct marketing and traditional advertising.
THE PARASITE — A GIMMICKY VIRAL VIDEO
Recently, social media sites were inundated with what looked like a touching video of strangers kissing for the first time. It turns out the “strangers” were hired actors, and the video was actually a clothing ad, although you’d never know it. There was no branding, not even a link or a subtle hint. Although the video racked up more than 48 million views in a matter of days, only a fraction of those who saw it probably connected it to the advertiser.
A truly viral video often can’t be planned, but if you are going to spend considerable resources creating one, you should make sure it serves a purpose.
FILLING UP ON COTTON BALLS — EMPTY KEYWORD STUFFING
The “cotton ball diet” is a recent a disturbing habit developing among mostly young women and girls who eat fluff soaked in juice. The idea is to trick themselves into feeling full without gaining weight. It’s an extremely dangerous behavior.
Although this is serious issue, it reminds me of a phrase that has caught on in the marketing world: keyword stuffing. The idea that cramming enough search-worthy words and phrases into a website or announcement will put you at the top of every search engine might have worked at one time, but it just isn’t true anymore.
Search results are encrypted so companies can no longer identify which keywords are generating organic search traffic from websites. The new algorithm is believed to have affected nearly 90 percent of all queries, changing the way search engines process requests. That means your content should be written in a way that answers your customers’ questions.
THE SMORGASBORD DIET— EXPERIMENTING TO SEE WHAT STICKS
I’ve never had the willpower to eliminate entire food groups or follow strict rules, which is why I’m counting on my “everything in moderation” plan to keep me away from diets altogether. It’s tempting for today’s marketers to want to try a little of everything, too. There’s just so much on the menu.
Bigger brands can afford to experiment a little more. For most companies, though, it doesn’t pay to dabble in the latest new toys without a plan. Before you spend your money on anything, you need a clear idea of how you’ll incorporate it into your existing strategy and what kind of returns you can expect to see.
THE MEAT AND POTATOES
As marketers, we have so many options it’s easy to get distracted and forget our ultimate goals. As marketing consultant Dorie Clark argues in Harvard Business Review, maybe it’s time to go back to the basics. Marketing automation, or using software to nurture prospects into customers, has become the latest buzzword, but it won’t do you much good unless you’ve first mastered the art of garnering qualified leads. A solid mobile website can be just as effective as a fancy smartphone app, and sometimes it makes more sense.
Before your company buys into a new strategy, Clark recommends asking three important questions:
1. Are we making the most of what we already have?
2. Can we stand out by doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing? For example, consider mailing personalized, printed invitations to your most important clients, rather than blasting hundreds of people with emails that may get lost in the shuffle.
3. Can we bring back something that worked well in the past?
Just as a successful diet starts with a balance of the basics, a successful strategy needs to incorporate a mix of branding, lead generation, customer relationship management along with traditional and social media. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you won’t be tempted to waste resources on fleeting fads.
As always, if you have a specific marketing issue or question, contact me at ITA Fleet Communications, Phone: 610–585-0801, Email: EdPierce@ITAfleetcommunications.com.
With decades of B2B sales and marketing success, Ed has served fleet product and service providers with strategic plan-related market research and integrated sales & marketing programs that significantly increased market penetration; brand management that markedly improved both awareness and positioning; and B2B sales support that helped sales exceed plan year in and year out.
Ed now leads ITA Fleet Communications – a fleet-focused consulting firm helping excellent product and service providers achieve excellent results through innovative and effective integrated sales and marketing.