Imagine you’re in a business meeting discussing the upcoming year’s goals, objectives and path to implement forward-thinking marketing strategies. How often have you heard, “Because that’s what we’ve always done…” in response to a well-founded “Why?” relative to marketing?
You know running a business is more than just saying “we’re open” and opening your doors. While a few customers may wander in, it won’t help you build a loyal consumer base to keep business flowing. A successful business requires time, budgets, marketing and hard work. Think about your business’ marketing strategy and consider the following scenarios:
- “Why is the majority of our marketing strategy focused on outbound tactics?”
- “Why do we have so much of our marketing budget allocated to print advertising?”
- “Why do we have three trade shows scheduled this year but no corresponding promotional efforts?”
- “Why? “…Because that’s what we’ve always done.”
It’s easy to let the convenience of routine dictate your marketing strategy, especially if it has worked for you in the past. However, while the tried and true strategy may prove somewhat successful, considering how forward-thinking strategies move businesses towards growth, you aren’t doing yourself or your business any favors by “doing what you’ve always done.”
How can you be Forward-Thinking?
Before we dive into how to implement forward-thinking marketing, let’s discuss what it truly means to be forward-thinking. You develop new marketing goals at the start of each year. Looking at the data from the previous year’s marketing efforts, you try to predict how markets and consumers will behave and craft a plan to reach consumers. Most often, this results in reusing the same tactics year after year because they continue to show satisfactory progress.
Rather than looking at previous trends. Look to how the market and consumers are changing as well as the media you currently use and new media that is emerging. The key is to look for opportunities in marketing areas you have not previously used or considered (and tap into new markets).
Of course, if there is a particular marketing tactic that you have proven extremely successful and continue to dominate in, by all means continue using it. Just look for ways to improve and grow upon it.
What is Best Practice?
Best practice are the methods found to be most successful, more so than others. According to Business Dictionary, best practice is explained as:
"A method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that is used as a benchmark."
Unfortunately, the best practice concept is often mistaken for “The only way it can and should be done” (If only marketing were that easy!), and marketing is not one-strategy-fits-all. Each business must understand their consumers and brand personas in order to develop a strategy that works for them.
While best practices are vital for business success, and every business should consider using and tweaking them to fit their business, a forward-thinking marketing mentality is needed to keep those practices effective.
Best Practice Combined With Forward Thinking
Forward thinking in today’s marketing environment is not only advantageous to your business—it’s an absolute necessity. Implementing marketing strategies that look to the future help your business utilize smart marketing and stay up-to-date on the best new ways to communicate with consumers.
Business best practice methods combined with a forward-thinking mentality can result in extremely successful, profitable results when making decisions relative to your marketing spending. It’s important to remember consumers when developing a forward-thinking strategy.
Remember that marketing is your main communication method with consumers. Traditionally it has been somewhat one-way communication; however, new tools and forward-thinking strategies are allowing businesses to create two-way communication with their customers.
Be sure to let consumers know you want to hear their thoughts and opinions. It allows you to be innovative in your promotion and communication with consumers, but also shows that you’re not just looking for a sale, but rather, a relationship with customers.
FORWARD-THINKING IN MOTION
For example, let’s consider your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. To apply forward-thinking SEO analytics, take time to sit down and think about your consumers. Use buyer personas to identify their likes, interests and consumption habits.
Then use your experience, application and customer feedback to predict what questions they will have in relation to your business and use high-quality keywords identified to provide content they are searching for now and will be searching for in the future. A well-written blog will help demonstrate your expertise in your field and show consumers that you are willing to provide the information to make their decision easier.
Now think about your inbound marketing tactics. Use social media to promote campaign and drive traffic to your website. Once visitors are there, make your optimized content readily available. Use forms and landing pages on your website to gather consumer information in exchange for downloadable premium content.
Then you can follow up with leads with additional content to nurture a relationship with them. This will show consumers that you want to ensure they have a positive experience with your business and that you want to continue to provide quality content and service to them.
Lastly, utilize social media to engage directly and start conversations with current consumers, industry professionals, and potential leads. Again, let your customers know they are being heard. Use polls, questions and hashtags to gather more information about consumers, and use it to develop better targeted content to them. The best part about social media is you can reach consumers beyond your followers. When your followers retweet, like and share your content, your reach is expanded to their followers and their followers’ followers.
Continuing with forward-thinking marketing
Establishing best practice methodology is foundational for a successful business, and forward thinking marketing is instrumental in growing a successful business. By combining the two together into one singular strategy, you can develop better targeted content and increase customer engagement. It all comes down to embracing change.
Remember that you don’t have to throw out your entire strategy for a completely new one. Change can happen incrementally and over time. As long as you’re moving towards a new strategy and implementing it piece by piece, you’re moving in the right direction.
So, the next time you hear, “Because that’s what we’ve always done…” you can respond with “…yes, and while that has proven to be successful, what if we could expand even more on that already proven process?”
What are your business’ forward-thinking best practices? Tell us in the comments!