The following question was posed in an online networking group of which I am a member:

 “What are some new marketing trends to expect so I don’t get left behind in the dust?”

The questioner went on to express dismay about being “late to Facebook”, and did not want that to happen again. I thought my answer was worth sharing here.

“Marketing” and “media” are not the same thing. The question implies that Facebook is a marketing trend. It is not. It is simply a communications channel, like television, radio, direct mail, outdoor, newspaper, and other media. Though it is relatively new, it is closely related to our oldest form of marketing — word-of-mouth — in that the platform is based on networks of “friends” who “share” information with one another.  

If you’re obsessing over the “next big thing” in terms of media, you’re doing yourself, your business, and your customers a disservice. 

The explosion of media in the Internet age is undeniable, well documented, and shows no signs of slowing down. As a business owner (unless you’re running a marketing agency), it probably shouldn’t be your job to stay on top of all of the latest media developments; after all, you’ve got customers to serve. 

My advice is to focus on these 3 things:

  1. ​Who am I? What do you do, what value do you offer, and how is it different (better) than what your competitors offer? A brand is a concept attached to a name. What is the concept attached to yours? Every way in which your business communicates with its target consumer should be consistent with this idea, across all channels and regardless of the medium.
  2. ​Who is my customer? Why do they buy from you? What (beyond age and gender groups) do they have in common? What do they care about? What moves them? How do they prefer to be communicated with?
  3. What media is consumed by my customers? If you are really clear about who they are (see #2 above), then you’ll likely have a good idea of where the can be reached, media-wise. And this is where the explosion of media options works in your favor. Now, rather than being content purchasing media to reach Adults between the ages of 25 and 54 (the best we could do, pre-Internet) we now have the data that enables us to target potential customers much more precisely, and with less waste. Are you a Honda dealership who wants to reach those who actually intend to buy a new Honda, within a certain geographic area, on television, online, social media, and streaming radio? I recently was able to develop a streaming video and online display ad campaign for a roofing company that wanted to reach “new roof intenders” — homeowners that, based on their online behavior, intend to buy a new roof for their homes within the next 6-12 months — within select, targeted zip codes. Yes, you can do that. And what’s more, you now have the tools to measure and analyze the effectiveness of your campaign so that you can make better decisions the next time around.

​The bottom line? The next big trends are targetability and accountability.  But first, be clear on the answers to the three questions above.