Wow, what happened there?
Seems like January paid the cheque and flounced off in an instant, leaving us all dazed and a little surprised at the sudden appearance of February.
And now the dust is starting to settle on all our New Year’s resolutions, both personal and professional…
Those well-meaning workout plans are already starting to look less than appealing…
Which means the gyms are thinning out, the bars are filling up again and ‘the holiday season’ is becoming a hazier memory each day.
And what about all those ‘2018 Digital Marketing Trends’ prediction posts?
Did you see any of those articles this past month? There’s tons of ’em.
Perhaps you even made predictions of your own.
But those things have always kinda left me cold…
I don’t share this sudden desire to declare what’s ‘in’ or ‘out’ in marketing (or any industry really) just because it’s January.
Plenty of people do though, so let’s look at that for a moment…
Are new year digital marketing predictions important?
But is anyone measuring the success rate of these guesses forecasts?
How do we know if anyone really can see around corners and predict the future?
(Personally I’d be wary of anyone outside of a Marvel movie who claims they have this skill…)
Yet at the turn of every year – prompted apparently by nothing more than a simple digit change on our calendars – the perceived value of Marketing Corner-Vision increases, and we can’t get enough of the proclamations of industry experts on what the next 12 months have in store for our businesses.
It’s all “Out with THIS!”
“In with THAT!”
And “THE OTHER will be back – and bigger than ever!”
Then we head back to our desks and start trying to jam square pegs into round holes, in the name of keeping up with the newest tactics and trends.
You hear marketing terms thrown around like catchphrase confetti…
…Such as ‘Big Data’ – which is still just ‘Big’ and not ‘Massive’ or ‘Dangerously Overweight’, despite the importance of said data’s Big-ness apparently expanding each year…
…Or like ‘Chatbot Marketing’ – which sounds like an excellent way to muscle in on a genuinely useful tool for making customer service better and turn it into a breeding ground for even more unwanted ‘notifications’ the moment you open a website…
(Side prediction of my own: surely it won’t be long before there’s a browser add-on that mutes chatbot popups like adblockers zap other annoying triggers?)
…Plus all the usual suspects like ‘Responsive Organizations’ (there’s a different kind?!?)
…‘Holistic’… ‘Blockchain tech’… ‘Social Selling’… ‘Knowledge Managers’…
(That last one reminds me of the old gag about a window cleaner who rebranded himself as a ‘Transparency Enhancement Facilitator’)
…and all the other doozies cluttering up the interwebz, so that pretty soon you’re left playing Bullshit Buzzword Bingo whenever you check through your FB/Twitter feed or inbox.
But what really matters is this:
Unless you’re selling marketing products/services to marketers (in which case, great! Just don’t focus on the ‘on-trend’ features you use at the expense of the outcome you deliver)…
…most of the time YOUR CUSTOMER COULD NOT GIVE TWO HAIRY HOOTS about these terms.
They just want faster, better, warmer, sexier etc. And if you can give them those things, don’t overcomplicate how you present that fact…
Let’s face it:
To most people, a ‘blockchain’ sounds like something they’d call a plumber for…
That doesn’t mean they’re dumb, it means they don’t care. And why should they?
They want help, not buzzwords.
People want to be communicated with clearly, honestly and entertainingly…
And your message should ALWAYS be more important than your medium.
Sometimes, as marketers, we can get so wrapped up in marketing chit-chat it blinds us to what really matters.
So, how much attention should you pay to what you’re hearing will be “hot in 2018”?
Well, I’m not saying ignore everything you hear on the subject.
For one thing, it’s hard to go completely cold turkey on Digital Marketing Predictions Season…
The irresistible shiver of FOMO is never far away… and you’ve gotta have an opinion about the hot topics for when you hit that upcoming conference, right?
Besides, where there’s smoke there’s sometimes actually fire…
So if you’re hearing a lot about a particular strategy, development or results-based case study, it’s worth further investigation to see if there’s something you can learn and implement.
But predictions do need to be taken with a hefty handful of salt…
Because sometimes they’re just opinions dressed up as directions.
And if you’re simply looking to ‘trends’ as guidance for giving your biz the edge this year, consider what it means to follow the crowd in order to stand out…
…doesn’t make a ton of sense, does it?
So, what if you don’t want to place your faith in false prophets?
What can you do to convert more leads, sales or downloads in 2018 that isn’t just “on trend”, “about to reach peak X” or “this year’s Snapchat, for the Stranger Things generation?”
The experienced and thoughtful copywriting instructor Robert Gibson is someone who has a rare gift for cutting through the surface clutter to what really matters…
As he recently pointed out in his insightful weekly email round-up of marketing news and developments:
“Google can change an algorithm and people can lose their business overnight.
Bet on you first and your strategy second.”
Be a leader, not a follower
So with that in mind, here’s one sure-fire way to ‘bet on yourself’ and leave the shiny-object strategy-chasing to the short-termists…
It’s not sexy, cool or (ugh) ‘trending’ – which actually makes it both sexy AND cool in my book…
But it is a proven, timeless way to connect with more of your ideal customers, clients and fans:
Get clear on your UNIQUE value to your ideal customer/client.
Set aside one day (at least a few hours) this month to go through every piece of your marketing funnel and automations, and assess whether it has a direct, specific appeal to your best customer.
If it doesn’t, rewrite it.
Take the time to review & refresh everything you’ve got loaded in an email autoresponder, every landing page, paid ad, sales page, website popup and About page from the point of view of an ideal but skeptical prospect.
Consider if each of these core messages clearly and compellingly communicates something about what your values are, why you’re unique and what you have to offer your best-fit customer.
Yes, it can be hard work sometimes, and nowhere near as exciting (or distracting) as unboxing that shiny new software or strategy you read about in January…
But if you do this just once each year around this time, you’ll give yourself a WAY better chance of converting more leads to sales with messaging that truly resonates.
It’s a simple case of optimizing your core messaging on a regular basis…
…to reflect your updated values, USP and skillset so every single prospect who enters your world sees the best of you.
Once you’ve got these fundamentals clearly in place, then you can start experimenting with sexier, shinier objects like strategies and processes.
Because when you get distracted by what others are doing (or are just talking about doing), you risk losing sight of what YOU have to offer that nobody else has.
You can call it your core differentiator, your USP or your value proposition – it doesn’t really matter…
It’s basically what your best customer can only get from YOU, and nowhere else.
That’s what every ‘touchstone’ piece of content in your armoury should communicate…
It’s how people have sold everything from $5 widgets to $50k consulting services to other people over the past century and more…
So, bet on yourself in 2018 and start your marketing revamp by optimizing what’s already there:
The low-hanging fruit that, improved by just 10%, can deliver big results for you this year.
Seriously, if you set aside just one out of the 330-or-so remaining days of this year to do this, it’ll turn out to be the most impactful thing you do in 2018.
Now go get those conversions!
PS – If you want help ensuring your core offer and values are communicated with maximum impact in your messaging, I’m putting together a new service to optimize & improve your most important ‘touchstone’ copy resources.
It’s like an enhanced and expanded version of my Copy Optimization Review service – with the goal of getting you more conversions without having to chase any shiny, expensive or unpredictable objects.
Drop me a line here if you’re interested in learning more about that (put ‘Touchstone Messaging’ in your subject line to jump ahead of the inbox queue).