Top 7 Marketing Tips for 2017

For most of us the Christmas and New Year break is over and it’s back to the every day grind! So, in an effort to provide some inspiration and hopefully a bit of a spark, I’ve put together some general marketing tips to help get you off to a flying start in 2017.

Review these tips in context of your own target customer, business and marketing objectives. For some, one or two of these tips may be relevant, but for most brands many of these tips should be strongly considered.

Happy reading, and best wishes for a successful for 2017!

Embrace Change

The bottom line is your customer’s behaviours and habits change, and change fast. Brands and marketers need to keep up with their target market, or get left behind.

Before you even read the other tips below, you need to be open to doing things a little differently in 2017, especially if you’re still investing in the same marketing tactics you did in 2014!

The average Australian spent 37 hours online per month in 2014. Last year that figure reached 67 hours, but it’s not just the amount of time that’s significant. The attitude shift towards the online world, and what we as consumers can do with it is also significant for marketers.

Consumers are increasingly managing their lives online, communicating and socialising, studying, streaming TV and video, managing finances, searching for their next holiday destination, researching products and services, and making and executing buying decisions.

You only have to take a quick look at your customer in their online environment to also realise they’re increasingly valuing experiences over ‘things’ (i.e. material objects, here is a great article). This is particularly true if your target audience is millennials, but it’s clearly evident in all demographics. One quick scroll through a customers’ Facebook page will see them sharing holidays, food and their social life over the 4k LED TV or Gucci Handbag purchase.

If your organisation can embrace change, there is a great opportunity to find new and innovative ways to reach your customers, and keep them.

Focus on Customer Experience over Slogans and Price

Personally, I love a great slogan, but it can be absolutely useless if it doesn’t accurately represent every customer’s real experience, or journey with your brand. Setting expectations you cannot meet is a recipe for disaster.

As discussed above, consumers are more often putting value on experiences over ‘things’ and this includes price in many instances. It represents a fantastic opportunity for business, because it allows you to protect your margins by adding real value to your customer’s experience with your brand.

Make sure you invest the necessary time to work out what your customers really want – and what their pain points are – then decide how those line up with your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses.

My advice would be to aim high with your customer experience and work backwards. Think about your customer’s typical journey, from initial contact (enquiry), through the process of engagement (sale) and into a long-term relationship (retention).

Then work out how you can improve that journey by adding more value to the customer through that experience. And remember to make it personal; it’s not always about material things. You might find a personal phone call to say thank you after the sale (as part of your retention process), has more value than a Christmas Card.

If you get this right, you’ll find good old ‘word of mouth’ sales skyrocket, as you build an army of happy customers and ‘influencers’ happy to spread the word.

Invest in your Brand and Visual Identity

Your Brand and Customer Experience ties in closely, so for some organisations that need to work on both – ideally you do it all together.

For those unsure what a ‘brand’ really is, here’s a really easy way to understand it – Forget about businesses and corporations for a second and just think about your best friend in school – let’s call her ‘Shannon’.

What do we know about Shannon? Was she fun, or serious? Friends with everyone, or did her friendship feel exclusive? Did she have personal values like honesty, being true to her word, or never being late for an event? Was she clever and witty, or was her tone always a little bland but trustworthy? How did you feel when you ‘hung out’ with her? Did she have a reputation for anything?

All of these characteristics are representative of Shannon’s personal brand, and it’s no different for a business or corporate brand. It’s these unique characteristics that give your organisation the ability to appeal to your target customer, and connect with them on a meaningful level.

Your brand is a considered combination of the following:

Brand Purpose and Promise – What does your brand stand for, what will your customer get when they buy from you, and how do/should they feel?

Brand Expectation and Perception – What should customers expect from your brand, and what is their perception of your brand?

Brand Personality – Traits, language and tone of voice.

Your Visual Identity is the last element of your brand, and it’s the vehicle you use to communicate with your audience. It includes your logo, brand colours, packaging and communications. Your visual identity brings together all of your brand elements and allows you to consistently communicate and shape your purpose, expectation, perception and personality.

One of the most significant things we see within the process of developing a brand and visual identity is an organisations ability to clearly define their customer while going through this process. Investing in your brand, visual identity and customer experience often has far greater Return On Investment than any short-term, reactive advertising or marketing campaign that’s often a repeated process of failing to convert and retain customers.

Develop a Content Plan

Common forms of ‘content’ for most organisations include articles, blogs, images, videos, events, ads, and customer testimonials.

We’ve already discussed in small detail the consumer shift in valuing possessions to valuing experiences. One of the other major shifts in consumer behaviour is a growing discontent for ‘traditional’ advertising messages, and appetite for information through digital channels such as websites and social media.

Social Media in particular represents a great opportunity for brands to build an army of everyday influencers, people who have been wowed by their experience with your brand and happy to tell people about it.

I’m not recommending a drop in newspaper or radio spend, but if you don’t have a content plan that supports your brand and marketing objectives, you probably need to start one. A marketing plan that includes traditional advertising only, in 2017, just isn’t going to work.

Content can be developed in-house, externally via a Creative Agency like Media Fox, or both. While investment needs to be made in content development, the channels available for sharing content (like social media, email and websites) are a relatively low cost way to reach and engage your target audience, and start your customer journey.

Use video to tell a story

Video content is far more engaging than images and written content.

This is not surprising as it entices all of our senses by allowing your brand to be creative with the message, visuals, style, emotion, language and tone that all goes with telling your story through video. Some of the most effective videos (sharing, engagement or conversions) always connect with a target audience through some form of emotive story or inspiring imagery, and are generally short and sharp to avoid stretching short attention spans.

When you’re able to inject creativity, humour, emotion or personality to a video that aligns with your brand and product, then the sky really is the limit.

There are numerous platforms to share your video. Depending on your target audience; your website, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are all great places to start. Just don’t forget to add a call-to-action at the end of the video or on the channel, to make sure your customers know what to do next (e.g. visit your website, book an appointment, download an information pack, or simply call).

Think about why you’re using Social Media

Social Media presents an opportunity most brands cannot, and should not ignore.

But remember, if you’re not clear on why you’re using it, and what your objectives are, then you’re probably better off not using it.

Take the time to review how Social Media can help your brand achieve its business and marketing objectives, and what content is appropriate for your social media channels (See Top Marketing Tip 4).

For example, a marketing objective for a Restaurant might be to distinguish the eatery as having the freshest ingredients in town. A Facebook Live Video series could showcase the head Chef picking and preparing fresh garden vegetables.

A business objective for a Telco company might be to improve customer retention. In this instance, a Twitter handle specifically for customer service could improve response times to help achieve this.

Once you really think about why you’re using Social Media, and how it fits in with your business and marketing objectives, you can start to work on creating the right social media plan to maximise your engagement and ROI.

Update or re-design your website in line with your business and marketing objectives

If you have a website just sitting out there in the online ether, doing nothing more than acting as an ‘online brochure,’ or if you don’t have one at all, it’s time to get going!

As I’ve already mentioned, the average Australian is spending 67 hours online every month, and the data shows he/she is not just chatting on Facebook.

A great website will pull together all of the things we’ve discussed above: your brand, communications, customer experience, customer service, content, video and so much more. It will help you reach more customers, convert them and keep them.

It can also open up brand new marketing opportunities that previously did not exist for your business. It could entice customers to sign up as a member by handing over email addresses, opening up direct email marketing opportunities.

If your marketing plan includes special public events, it could promote your event and include a call-to-action to buy tickets, or allow for RSVP’s.

Your website could be your brand’s best sales funnel, and the start of your customer journey. It could take all of your website leads and send them through to your Customer Relationship Management software, so you never miss a potential sale.