Marketing is an ever-changing industry. With new trends constantly on the horizon, it’s difficult to tell which to adopt and which to ignore. Often, it simply comes down to using your best judgment about what will help you achieve your overall business goals.
To help you make this choice, we asked a panel of Ad Age Collective members what strategies they use to decide when to pursue a marketing trend or let it pass by. Their best answers are below.
1. Determine if it’s customer-centric.
An important aspect of any marketing trend is, “Does it keep my customer at the center of my strategy?” If it does, then it’s a trend worth watching. Identity resolution is a priority, and one that will continue to be so. The more you understand about your customers, the more relevant messages you can deliver. And a good starting point is using advanced analytics, such as machine learning. – Kevin Dean, Experian
2. Conduct a stress test on the trends.
Hopping on a marketing trend can do a brand more harm than good if it’s not authentic to that brand or its audiences. So conduct a stress test on each new trend against the core beliefs of the company and against the day-to-day interactions of the target audience. If your target audience is not engaging with the new platform, new idea, etc., it will come off as inauthentic. Look carefully before you leap. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm
3. Understand whether your audience has ‘gotten wise’ to the trend.
It’s vitally important to be a trend connoisseur — to recognize when something has become a trend, and when your audiences’ culture begins to recognize that trend as a “tactic“ and resist it. Be early to know when your audience has gotten wise to it, then consider how to go against the grain of a trend at the right moment to help create surprise, delight, wit, freshness and shareability. – Scott Montgomery, Bradley and Montgomery (BaM)
4. Be clear on what you stand for.
If brands are clear on what they’re about, then as trends come and go, marketers know whether or not the trend makes sense for them. There is no silver bullet for building and cultivating a brand, but brands should always have a perspective about the world they live in. So, when a new trend arises, a brand with a point of view can weigh in on it, and sometimes weighing in means staying away. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive
5. Start with your strategy.
When you’re approached with a new-fangled marketing trend, the key is to evaluate it against your pre-defined marketing strategy. Of course, that presumes that you’ve defined a marketing strategy and KPIs. Then it’s just a matter of assessing if the new trend can deliver against your KPIs more efficiently than your current plans. If you think so, then “test and learn” is a safe approach. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)
6. Don’t chase shiny new objects for the sake of it.
Never chase a fad just because it’s the shiny new object. Always start with the basics: who is the audience, what need or problem are we solving for them, what’s the best way to communicate this message — then determine if there’s relevance. Also see what others are doing. Fast following is a proven strategy, and in many cases, there’s little benefit to being first! – Marc Landsberg, SOCIALDEVIANT
7. Stick to the tried-and-true.
When planning a cross-channel attribution plan, be sure to stick with tried-and-true core verticals. Leave a portion for testing, which can be either untested media or new emerging platforms. If it doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to report on it, remove it from the plan and move on to other emerging trends. Stick with the tried-and-true, but keep a portion of your budget for testing. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
8. Be where your consumers are.
You need to understand who your consumers are, where they are and what is relevant to them. Be careful not to chase trends just because of marketing hype or competition focus. If a channel, platform or marketing trend fits in your overall vision and strategy, build it in there! In rare cases, specific marketing trends (e.g. TikTok) require you to divert your strategy and execution. – Oz Etzioni, Clinch
9. Base your decisions on audience data.
It all comes back to who your audience is and what channels they are using to get information, to communicate on and transact with. Also, how many of them are spending with each channel is important, as that will help inform how many resources the marketer needs to spend on building experiences for each of these channels. These experiences are built to reach the majority. – Raashee Gupta Erry, UPLEVEL – Digital Media Consulting