When you do a Google search to find what marketing trends will be relevant in 2019 there is a tendency to use a wide range of buzzwords like voice search marketing, blockchain, chatbots, etc. These yearly trends often cater to early adopters, people who really don’t need much convincing to try something new.
What about the rest of us who trust what has worked extremely well in the past and keeps delivering double-digit growth year after year? Does one have to constantly fail fast and try something new every week?
What if you actually focused on getting even better at marketing tactics you already execute flawlessly?
Marketing is constantly being challenged, but it is not much different from accounting, operational efficiency or traditional sales. You have to understand the fundamentals to succeed.
Here’s what I propose: Make 2019 the year you strengthen your marketing fundamentals, while still staying aware of key trends changing the business world.
1. Cherish customer retention
The number of entrepreneurs telling us they can’t find new employees is astonishing. It is so acute that you can be an industry leader and still have to poach top talent from your competitors. Fasten your seatbelts because it is not going to get any easier in the coming year!
But why do I mention employee retention when we really wanted to talk about keeping customers? Because you have to treat current customers like your current best employees, meaning they are a scarce resource that requires your full and constant attention. If you let one competitor talk to your clients, your job as a marketer instantly becomes harder because you then need to find a new customer who may or may not stay for a long ride.
Too many businesses don’t do customer retention the right way. It is either seen as an overcomplicated art or as a branding exercise—flooding clients with half a dozen cool Instagram photos, hoping they will call to place an order.
Instead, focus on what you already know about your customers. Customer retention that is well executed is a conversation. Ask probing questions throughout the year to learn what problems your customers are facing. Then use a CRM to track this information and feed it to the sales team.
Tip: If you are uncertain about the value of customer retention, learn about calculating your customer lifetime value and your cost of acquisition.
2. Consider creating a loyalty program
Here is a personal story. I used to pay little or no attention to loyalty programs. I would often compare products or services with competitors to understand their offer. Whenever it made sense, I just switched to something that offered better quality, customer service or value for money.
I recently started to pay more attention to companies that offer a loyalty program. I gain loyalty benefits and I reduce the amount of time, energy and friction I spend on constantly shifting from one brand to another. I also get to give my opinion on customer panel discussions and surveys for future products or services. More importantly, I have a better brand experience all year round.
My point is that loyalty programs are a win-win marketing strategy. For me, as a consumer, I get a better deal from being loyal to a brand. Meanwhile, the company gets more revenue and reduces customer churn.
Tip: Without hiring a team or trying to clone Aeroplan, there are ways to quickly build a loyalty program. You can also integrate it with other marketing channels like Mailchimp or Facebook!
3. Own accountability
We can all agree that 2018 was an ugly year when it came to personal data protection. And when data breaches on social media platforms result in billion-dollar losses for brand value, you have to ask yourself what could be the results should your company be affected.
Let’s be bold here and take full accountability about who your customers believe in. Let’s also agree that your brand belongs to you, and only you. Customers associate themselves with it to some degree, but without your control to protect it, they can quickly take their business elsewhere.
Tip: Make sure you and your agency partners have a data security policy in place and check off this list if you are unsure!
4. Think “vanguard”
Most marketers are really good at finding new ideas, bringing them to life and telling compelling stories. Marketing is essentially about how you understand customer problems and offer a product or a solution to fix it. Not all customers invent new problems, though.
Vanguard is a term for people who are good at looking at a current problem from a new angle using new technology or processes that address a critical mass of users and customers.
In every industry there is a vanguard; the relentless optimist who will not give up until the problem is one notch easier to solve. We know them by name. Pricing is not their main competitive advantage. It is their marketing team’s ability to tell customers and prospects exactly how this differentiates them from the rest.
Tip: Sometimes it can be hard to identify what makes your product or service different. Here is a great story about being unique in a crowded space!
5. Connect to digital supply chains
This will be the year when companies that want to serve as suppliers for multinationals learn to seamlessly integrate into their procurement systems. One only has to look at the largest infrastructure project in modern times—the US$900 billion New Silk Road—to understand that Canadian businesses need to connect with global partners if they are going to participate in multi-million dollar projects.
Another example of how procurement is changing: The Ariba Network. This is a network where more than 3 million buyers and sellers trade over US$2 trillion in goods and services every year. In effect, it has become one of the world’s largest B2B marketplace. And it’s entirely online.
If becoming part of digital supply chains is not on your radar, it should be. It will be a key differentiator, starting yesterday.
Tip: See how your company technology stacks up against other players in your industry with this free Digital maturity assessment.
What are you marketing priorities?
We want to hear your marketing priorities for 2019. What has worked well in the past? What will you try that is new? Please share your comments below.