10 Aspects Of Marketing That Will Never Change

As media, technology and customer needs continue to grow and change, so too does the world of marketing. While certain marketing trends come and go, others have withstood the test of time.

AdAge Collective

The members of Ad Age Collective have studied and experienced industry trends over the course of their careers. We asked a group of them to share some aspects of marketing they believe are here to stay. Below are 10 things about marketing that are unlikely to change, and what you can learn from them.

1. Needing the right message for your audience
Marketing is essentially about getting the right message to the right audience — that will never change. What does change are the tools to do that more efficiently and effectively. Your target audience and message can change too, but you will always need to match the two. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

2. Getting the product right
Now more than ever, marketers need to perfectly fit their product or services to the customer. If it doesn’t fit, the customer will quit. Customers can discover more products than ever, they are exposed to more reviews and they are less tied to heritage brands. Before, brand awareness and messaging could cover up inadequacies, but companies and products (and sourcing) are forever exposed. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

3. Time for creativity and inspiration
Creativity and inspiration have been at the core of marketing since day one. They remain the decisive factors in driving brand success, employee engagement and memorable ideas. Leaders must take time out to foster these and not get so caught up in business. Think Don Draper at the end of Mad Men. We find a way to allow for creativity or marketing will cease to inspire its audience. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

4. The need for ideas
It might sound trite, but the most valuable product an agency (or consultancy) can offer a client was, is and always will be big, bold, business-altering, projection-crushing, trendsetting ideas. Other “aspects” of marketing will evolve or disappear. – Chad Robley, Mindgruve

5. Telling stories that connect to the heart
The days of scream and tell are gone. Find that authentic story that showcases your brand’s uniqueness and feel proud of that. Now that the story is in your heart, find the best way to tell the story so it lands in the heart of your target audience. Stories have been there from the beginning of time and are eternal. Make sure your stories land on your audiences’ hearts. Have fun storytelling! – Arjun Sen, ZenMango

6. Human-to-human communication
Marketing has gone through so many iterations. Indeed, the current obsession with measuring and tactics (as seen in the rise of the discipline of “growth hacking”) has forgotten one crucial, unchanging aspect of marketing: communication. As much as you want to focus on data, don’t forget the key to successful marketing is communicating thoughtfully to the human on the receiving end of that message. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

7. The use of psychology
Marketing relies on psychological concepts to make its strategies effective. FOMO, discounts, two-for-one, giveaways and many other marketing strategies are all based on influencing people’s feelings. This fundamental link between marketing and psychology will stay strong for good. What this means for leaders is that they would benefit from learning more about psychology. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

8. Measuring your ROI
One thing in marketing which will never and should never change is ensuring you are getting a return on investment for your marketing spend. A brand should always ensure they are not only branding, but are also growing their business with direct ROI at the same time. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

9. The human imagination
So much has been automated and made efficient over the past two decades of marketing innovation. We now have great tools to eliminate the need for routine strategies and tasks that sucked up our time and money. What will never be automated is the human imagination. What we need now and always are powerful ideas. Ideas drive the purpose and possibilities we need to thrive as a culture and industry. – Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide

10. Authenticity
The one thing that will never change is being authentic to your brand. In the last few months, we have seen campaign messaging shift, but the creative executions that resonate with consumers are the ones that stay true to their brand message. Honing in on your message and mission will help brands develop stronger connections with consumers and stakeholders. – Cathy Oh, Samsung Ads

5 Things Every Business Needs To Know About Visual Search And Ux

Visual search is a great marketing tool that helps consumers find what they’re looking for faster. Rather than trying to describe a specific item in words, they can simply snap a quick photo and upload it to find a close visual match.

Visual Search and UX

Brands like Pinterest and Google have already implemented visual search functionalities, and other companies are starting to follow suit. If you haven’t yet incorporated this useful feature into your user experience design, now is the time to start looking into it.

To help you, we asked a panel of Ad Age Collective members what companies should know about the impact of visual search on marketing. Their best answers are below.

1. Metadata still matters in visual search.
With nearly 25% of all internet searches occurring on Google Images, this is the second largest search category. Creating high-ranking metadata is an important SEO strategy to show up and index on the front page. Also, XML images are powerful for creating sitemaps. This step ensures that crawlers can easily access your images and show them in search results. – Warren Jolly, adQuadrant

2. You can maximize your reach with a multi-site visual content strategy.
Search engines pull image results from multiple sources. Brands can maximize the potential for their product images to top the search results by building out visual content on other websites. Strong visual content strategies on Pinterest, Amazon and specialist sites like Houzz can drive more eyes on your products and ultimately increase sales. – Kerry Curran, Catalyst

3. It will take time to gain traction, but you should start preparing now.
It’s tempting with new trends to go all-in without addressing the current business climate. For brands that are used to investing in SEO to gain visibility, this shouldn’t stop with the advent of visual search, as it will take time to gain traction. Regardless, carve out a portion of your SEO budget to dedicate to visual assets and you’ll be ready for the arrival of mass adoption of visual search. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

4. Your images should give consumers a reason to click through.
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Make the image of your product quickly stand out and be visually appealing. Show the features and benefits of the product as they would appear as part of the consumer’s life to give them a reason to click through and learn more. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

5. Don’t wait to get started.
As mobile usage grows, mobile-friendly features like the vertical-video content format and visual search will become the norm. AI is developing rapidly and making it easier to carry out visual search accurately. Businesses need to get their foot in the door fast and build their audience from the outset of this new trend. It will be a lot harder to compete and stand out later. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

7 Tips For Leveraging Ai To Improve User Experience

The use of artificial intelligence in marketing and advertising has been constantly on the rise due to the technology’s versatility in connecting brands with customers. AI has already found its way into several areas of the industry, most notably in the form of AI-based chatbots designed to enhance and optimize customer service.

7 tips for Ai and User Experience

However, AI can go so much deeper in improving the overall user experience that a customer may have. AI has the potential to do a lot more in terms of data processing to garner insights for a business. Focusing on the metrics that are specific to a business is just the surface layer. User interaction data can also provide a significant store of data that the company can use to improve customer experience. An element like a product recommendation service based on what the user has searched for and viewed previously is an excellent way to leverage AI to improve consumer interaction with the brand.

These leaders from Ad Age Collective understand the immense potential that AI can provide to the industry as a whole. We asked them to help us understand how a brand can best include AI in designing and upgrading its user experience. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Create a system of checks and balances.
There are plenty of applications of AI across all areas of advertising and marketing. Whether you’re building your own AI or using a technology provider, it’s important to ensure that there are checks and balances and a discernible ROI created. That requires checking that the algorithms are working optimally, mitigating biases and surfacing the most impactful recommendations on an ongoing basis. – Ricky Ray Butler, Branded Entertainment Network

2. Identify your visual brand equity.
As AI-driven user experience becomes the norm, a brand’s differentiated visual equity will be critical to stand out in multibrand platforms. Brands must identify visual elements that are relevant and ownable. For instance, Target owns the bull’s-eye. What else can they own? – Arjun Sen, ZenMango

3. Focus on audio.
Most of the brands have largely been neglecting their audio dimension. Developers and marketers focus mainly on visual and haptics to a lesser extent, while the sound is the sense dimension that connects emotionally. – Marcello Magalhaes, Speakeasy – Knowledge Brokers

4. Use AI to enhance personalization.
AI can be used to enhance the personalization of your offering. Use it to alter product options, add-ons and benefits in real time while a consumer is online searching for your brand in order to directly benefit their lifestyle. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

5. Use AI to manage out-of-stocks.
Some progressive retailers like Wakefern and Kroeger are using AI-powered image recognition to identify out-of-stock issues and to efficiently restock the shelves. Some brand owners like AB InBev, especially those with direct store delivery (DSD), are also doing the same. Collaborate with your retail channel partners to capture and act on this data. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

6. Keep a close eye on it.
While AI is powerful and can help carry out activities easily and fast, it’s not 100 percent reliable. Remember Microsoft’s “Tay” Twitter bot that went from having engaging interactions to using slurs? Use AI in creating content and better experiences, but keep a close eye on it. AI is literal and does not take context into account, nor can it make moral judgments. You need to constantly monitor it. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

7. Be cognizant of inherent bias.
AI is incredibly efficient and underpins many popular systems we use today. One only has to investigate the world of streaming services, with content recommendations powered by AI, to see its impact. However, brands need to remember to not be blinded by AI’s abilities and to be cognizant of inherent biases that exist within AI systems. AI is only as good as its creator — and that creator is human. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

8 Tips For Leaders Looking To Future-proof Their Experiential Marketing Techniques

Experiential marketing has changed how companies interact with their customers. Instead of just directly selling, companies are instead directly interacting with their customers, creating memorable immersive experiences their audiences will love. This inclusion makes it more likely that customers will view the company in a more positive light than if their relationship with the company had simply been transactional in nature.

AdAge 8 Tips Experiential

Even so, it’s necessary for experiential marketing to evolve. For marketers that are interested in future-proofing their strategies, they need to take into account the impact of current events. With the latest crisis changing consumer habits and behaviors, experiential marketing will require a bit of an adjustment to succeed now and in the future.

These professionals from Ad Age Collective are skilled in the development of innovative experiential marketing tactics. Here, they weigh in on how modern businesses can adapt their experiential marketing campaigns to cope with a post-crisis world.

1. Blend the digital and physical worlds.
Marketing to large physical crowds or encouraging them to gather is on pause. Use digital strategies to create crowd-based energy asynchronously and/or with geographic diversity. Insert your brand into watch parties, esports, food/supply delivery, online education, etc. Connect to new heroes — frontline workers and first responders. Address new issues and behaviors like loneliness and family walks. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

2. Consider safety as part of your experience.
Safety has always been important to customers, but safety now has a new public health dimension beyond physical security measures implemented before. As you craft new in-person experiences, you will have to support and illustrate — before and during events — how you satisfy attendee safety while making the experience both frictionless and fun. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

3. Get inspired and extend the reach of your content.
Get inspired! The beauty of translating the best of physical experiences into digital ones is that it can extend the reach of potent content. Obama’s favorite DJ, DJ Mel (and his dog), is now spinning records for thousands from his house via Facebook Live. And, not-for-profit USAFacts is connecting Americans with hard-to-get virus-spread data, facts and maps across connected screens. – Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide

4. Identify what will define your experience.
Experience will always separate utility brands from brands we connect with. But this extended staying at home may impact the relative importance of experiential attributes. People may be more OK to wait a little longer, but will always need to be assured of environmental safety. Identifying what attributes will define your experience will be key to experiential marketing. – Arjun Sen, ZenMango

5. Look to augmented and virtual reality.
Experiential marketing may mean less in-person or large group events, but emerging technologies on the augmented reality and virtual reality side may see a rise as people are looking inward and at new ways of engaging with personalized content. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

6. Diversify across digital and nondigital channels.
If this crisis proves one thing, it’s that industries that rely on one or two methods to market themselves are at great risk from changes in the world. Diversification is key across digital and nondigital marketing channels in order to protect their organizations from suffering. The litmus test is simple — look at your channels and evaluate if your business could survive if one disappeared. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

7. Determine what is situationally appropriate.
Marketing leaders need to understand quickly what is situationally appropriate for the moment and not be tone-deaf. You need to be anchored with an authentic voice and a mission to drive purpose, otherwise your efforts can come across as shallow. At the same time, you have to quickly get a sense of how the situation could evolve, so that you can navigate through the crisis in the appropriate manner. – Rich Honiball, Navy Exchange Service Command

8. Make sure every brand experience has a virtual version.
Companies need to make sure every brand experience they create can be translatable to a remote or virtual version (if not being formerly virtual). However, not just marketing leaders should pay attention to that transformation. Those who have kids at home right now are witnessing how schools, banks, clinics and a myriad of public services are having to learn and transform while in flight. – Marcello Magalhaes, Speakeasy – Knowledge Brokers

7 Smart Uses Of Influencer Marketing And Why They’re Effective

With the rise of social media influencers affecting marketing techniques, businesses are embracing this new facet of online business sales. Many modern-day businesses have simply evolved their marketing tactics from traditional to digital with ease. However, the introduction of influencer-based marketing introduces a very new technique to the discipline of getting an audience to purchase a product.

7_smart_uses_of_influencer_marketing_

However, one of the most egregious missteps that companies make when dealing with influencer marketing is not using it to its fullest potential. For influencer marketing, the keywords should be fun, organic and engaging. As such, a brand’s use of influencer marketing should focus on being memorable and unique without sacrificing the influencer’s genuine appeal. But how does a company achieve this while trying to market its brand?

These business leaders from Ad Age Collective understand all the nuances of influencer marketing for promoting a brand’s image. We consulted them about some of the most unique and effective uses of influencer marketing they’ve seen and what made them memorable. Here’s what they told us.

1. Connecting with subscribers in organic, fun ways.

In a crowded subscription box marketplace, FabFitFun stands out. The brand focuses its marketing budget on influencers, connecting these advocates with potential subscribers in organic, fun ways. As a result, it’s driven a 300 percent sales growth annually. – Chad Robley, Mindgruve

2. Finding micro niche areas and owning them.

Influencer marketing has entered its next phase where brands must go beyond pay-to-play influences. Instead, brands like Buick went after “Pinfluencers.” Pinterest influencers were asked to create boards expressing their personality and lifestyle. One winner’s work would be used to design the next Encore model. The high-level connection with influencers resulted in a strong end-user connection. -Arjun Sen, ZenMango

3. Appearing out of context for a good reason.

The Foodgod’s Instagram account claims the influencer eats out 365 days a year! Not surprisingly, when he introduced fans to his new venture OceanBox — sustainable, restaurant-quality seafood to your door — it was a surprise to see him in his kitchen. The video, titled “Stay Home 20,” was both an introduction to OceanBox and a way to publicly encourage people to stay home to help flatten the curve. -Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide

4. Winning hearts by being self-deprecating and self-referential.

Influencer endorsements have become par for the course for marketers. With distrust of messaging directly distributed from brands, it makes sense to turn to trusted sources. Enter Aviation Gin. Ryan Reynolds’s parody of the concept of endorsement-based advertising ironically makes it a very effective piece of influencer marketing. It’s ridiculous and we enjoy a brand that can recognize that. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

5. Showing 100% commitment to breed unique competence.

Caulipower built a $100 million+ brand almost overnight using only influencer marketing and social media. Gail Becker, Caulipower’s founder, used many influencer marketing tactics, but what was unique was the total commitment to influencer marketing as the marketing strategy. Kylie Cosmetics is a similar story, though built off an existing brand. Commitment breeds unique competence. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

6. Enabling earned authenticity.

Budweiser’s TagWords video is a fantastic example of influencer marketing — it’s less of a $ponsor$hip (hijack) of opinion, and more of an attempt to capture an authentic choice by incredible music artists! Bravo Budweiser and bravo Africa (the agency) — you’ve earned it. – Marcello Magalhaes, Speakeasy – Knowledge Brokers

7. Creating genuine connection and trust.

Finding an influencer who is already a consumer and advocate of the product is key. Nick Offerman is a great example with being a fan of J-B Weld before he started working with the brand. The audience genuinely connects with Nick and his love of J-B Weld because it’s authentic. He’s a professional craftsman and woodworker, so the trust is there. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

9 Proven Strategies To Make Operations More Efficient While Understaffed

In an adequately staffed agency, getting everyone working together on creative problems is a little more straightforward. Everyone already knows their responsibilities. Writers do copy, designers work on art and they get together and build an excellent product that the client will love. When an agency is understaffed, however, what would typically be a simple project or two can turn into several nightmares happening at the same time.

 

9 Strategies to make operations more efficient

In an understaffed organization, even everyday occurrences can be difficult to deal with. Responsibilities have to be reassigned as workers get drained mentally and physically, trying to meet the demand for work. For management, this can be frustrating as there isn’t any new talent coming in the door, and the existing resources the business has are already stretched thin. With enough pressure, it could even lead to higher employee turnover.

Having an efficient workplace helps both employees and management streamline processes and improve their mental health. These nine experts from Ad Age Collective know how to make the best of limited resources and so share their insights into how an agency can streamline its operations, even when it’s suffering from being understaffed.

1. Offer work-from-home options.
Your staff will do better when they have the ability to work remotely. They can manage time and recharge whenever needed. This makes for a happier and more efficient team that will be able to manage even when you’re understaffed. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

2. Create a culture of action.
It’s tempting to stay with the same processes for a larger team, especially when generating content — strategize, write, review, approve, publish. Use the opportunity of understaffing to instead give your team the autonomy to run with ideas without the need for approval. It might be scary, but if you’ve hired well, they will relish the new responsibility and create better content than before. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

3. Let technology do the heavy lifting.
The right technology can take off some of the burden. To make operations more efficient, sales and marketing teams have ditched their 40 to 50 siloed point solutions in favor of an all-encompassing platform armed with AI and big data. By adopting a platform to do the heavy lifting, sales and marketing teams can get back to what they do best: creating valuable prospect experiences that convert. – Latane Conant, 6sense

4. Focus on time management.
We’ve taught the team how to use the urgent-important matrix to help empower them to prioritize activities and make the distinction between what’s important and not important and what’s urgent and not urgent. When we have faced an understaffed team, distinguishing between what’s urgent and what’s truly important is key to running more efficiently, while giving valuable time back to our teams. – Warren Jolly, adQuadrant

5. Enable dedicated uninterrupted time.
Help your team plan their day by focusing a portion of their time on emails and daily operations. But then help them block out quiet time for work in an undistracted environment so they can get through creative work without interruption and let the creativity and productivity flow. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

6. Turn off electronics and spend time together.
We get way more done more quickly when we meet in person at the start of a project instead of shooting each other emails about what’s required, what the objectives are and passing works-in-progress back and forth and waiting for responses. I’m not advocating for more useless meetings, but getting together briefly at the onset of a new project can radically improve efficiency and clarity. – Todd Morgano, Falls

7. Take 15 minutes off each meeting.
I would suggest taking 15 minutes off each meeting you have and giving that time back to your teams to spend using their alpha thinking over beta. Make these breaks a time to meditate, read, brainstorm, stretch, go for a walk, etc. Activating both sides of the brain will help with creativity and also efficiency. Fifteen minutes can add up to a lot better work. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

8. Learn to say ‘not now.’
An agency’s best friend is the expression: “Instead of ‘no,’ learn to say ‘not now.'” This allows for better pipeline management and ample creative time for every assignment, hence reducing the classic dilemma of being understaffed. Creativity should never be stunted. It’s not about getting more raw time to think, but more quality time by minimizing distractions and allowing focused creativity. – Marc Landsberg, SOCIALDEVIANT

9. Bring in people from other departments.
Bring in folks from other departments to help with the creative process. We just did this to help produce marketing and training content for a new product and got a lot of new material, but the best part was the amount of learning the other functions got from trying to address issues that they do not normally consider. Those learnings made them much better and more empathetic in their own roles. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

7 Ways To Market Your Green Products And Practices (Without ‘Greenwashing’)

The eco-friendly movement has continued to accelerate, and so has consumer interest in green products. But customers are also growing suspicious of companies “greenwashing” their products — using deceptive marketing techniques to falsely convey an environmentally-responsible image.

7 Ways to Market your Green Products

Many companies with legitimately eco-friendly products and practices want to advertise them, but they’re not sure how to do it in a way that appears genuine to consumers. Don’t let the fear of negative perception keep you from implementing eco-friendly practices. If you’re looking to take part in the green movement without being accused of greenwashing, try these marketing tips recommended by Ad Age Collective experts.

1. Showcase the research you’ve done.
There’s no stronger argument in your favor than clear facts and research. It’s helpful to create a dedicated page informing your audience about how your business is being part of the green movement in an authentic way. Create links on the front page or from relevant posts to the research page to help users find it and learn more. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

2. Make it a part of your purpose.
To engender trust with consumers, brands in the “green” space must look at their business holistically. If you are providing organic, sustainable food, but using plastic packaging from a decade ago, you are doing more harm than good. And “being green” needs to be a part of your purpose and who the company is, not just what you market. Think about the message, your consumer and customer and your employees. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

3. Support big, hard policy change.
We have been culpable in shifting blame from corporate polluters to individuals’ actions since 1971’s “Crying Indian” anti-litter spot. We often still simply make folks feel better about their role in the cycle of consumption that drives profit. But soon, brands will need us to demonstrate the need for big, hard policy change with that same emotional punch. Life, and profits, will depend on it. – Scott Montgomery, Bradley and Montgomery (BaM)

4. Be honest about how your products are created.
With the environment and sustainability trending in the global spotlight, companies are partaking in “greenwashing,” making false claims to appear eco-friendly and strike a chord with consumers. Companies must remain honest when articulating how their products are created and their environmental impact. Don’t trend-hunt. A false attempt to highlight a commitment to a trend can quickly become a PR nightmare. – Kristen Anna Roeckle, Concentric Health Experience

5. Educate your greenwashing competitors.
Since we are all in this together and fakers hurt us all, it is now the responsibility of leaders — particularly those with resources — to not only lift green standards, but also treat it not as a competitive advantage, but as a team effort. Rather than accuse, leaders can offer their hand to educate and rehabilitate even competitors who are trying to “greenwash” so there is no longer an excuse. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

6. Balance eco-friendliness and consumer value.
There needs to be a balance between green, eco-friendly products and those that truly provide value to consumers. If a green product is too expensive and not truly green, it devalues the entire market. The winning brand will be a truly green product that’s both good for the environment and more valuable to the consumer. Word-of-mouth and marketing will show this, as product is always king. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

7. If it isn’t tied to your product or service, don’t do it.
Consumers are skeptical of “greenwashing,” and with good reason. Companies are desperate to prove they are eco-friendly, but it often rings hollow to consumers. People are looking for brands they can trust, so make sure that your efforts are physically tied to the product you are selling. When you change your model entirely to become greener, that will earn consumer trust on a far deeper level. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

Is That New Marketing Trend Right For Your Business? 9 Ways To Decide

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.

Marketing Trands

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

Need To Reinvent A Beloved Brand? 9 Important Steps To Take

No matter how well-established a brand is, there may come a time when it needs to reinvent itself. Whether the company is working to keep up with modern sentiments or reach a new target demographic, the process of reinvention should be carefully considered and implemented. Otherwise, you may end up alienating the very customers who built your brand in the first place.

Reinvent Your Brand - AdAge

To help businesses that are considering a rebrand, we turned to the experts of Ad Age Collective for their insights. Below, they share nine steps a company should consider when reinventing a well-known brand.

1. Leverage your historical emotional insights.
When brands need to reimagine their future, it is important to understand why customers had an emotional connection to the brand in the past. Leveraging that emotional insight to refresh the branding and marketing around a product in a new light is often where you can start. – Kristen Anna Roeckle, Concentric Health Experience

2. Conduct research and reinvent based on data.
Reinventing a well-established brand doesn’t mean starting from scratch. Be sure to conduct research with your customers to find out what they currently think of your brand. What parts of your brand are still relevant? What parts need to go? What do customers believe you can credibly stand for? Use a fact-based approach to create a refreshed brand that audiences will connect with. – Aaron Hall, Siegel+Gale

3. Involve your existing fans and employees.
Reinvention can be exciting, but for some it means changing the brand they have come to know and love. Avid fans and employees should be considered in any reinvention plan. How do you ensure continuity and inclusion for this passionate base? Involve them early and bring them along for the ride. This will ensure they are not left behind and remain ambassadors for the new brand. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

4. Expand the audience, but don’t alienate the core.
We are frequently tasked with repositioning a well-established brand to reach a younger demographic. An important step in this process is to consider options for a reinvention that avoid alienating the existing core consumer. For a brand that has established equity, new strategies should expand brand relevance to a younger audience, not leave long-time brand fans behind. – Issa Sawabini, Fuse

5. Test your strategies first.
When reinventing your brand, it’s vital to test the changes you’re going to make. Make sure that you do your research and test your new brand image with a small group of your core audience. Continuous testing and getting feedback will ensure that you don’t alienate your core audience. It will also help you make changes in the right direction. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

6. Go back to your ‘why.’
Brands often need to reinvent themselves because they either lost their way or their momentum fizzled. They probably lost their way because they lost their “why.” Or, they lost their momentum because they lost their drive. If companies can retrace their steps to remember why they started the business in the first place, they can inspire new direction or refill the tank with passion. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

7. Make sure you have a clear path to engage new customers at scale.
Ask 20 adults to rewrite history or direct a do-over and what’s the response? No one chooses a gradual approach. Huge success scenarios with visions of landmark breakthroughs are voiced. This also applies to brands reinventing. Pursue outsized results by driving trials with solely new prospects. Proceed only if a path to engage new customers at scale is evident. If not, why reinvent? – Sean Cunningham, VAB

8. Stay true to the core brand.
Staying true to the core elements of a brand that have stood the test of time with the consumer should not be undervalued. A brand can do a face-lift by updating color scheme, images, messages and even refocus themes, but this should not deter dramatically from its brand equity and the value it spent building over time. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

9. Have fun and give the keys to your new brand ambassadors.
Classic brands like Converse and MINI really set the pace in terms of giving the keys to the brand to their customers. They didn’t necessarily need to reinvent themselves. But by allowing their customers to collaborate and use digital tools to “design their own Chucks” or “dream cars,” they got crucial brand insights while appealing to modern shoppers. What they did is now common. – Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide

6 Smart Ways To Handle A Negative Audience Reaction To Your Ad Campaign

You’ve done all the necessary research and preparations for your ad campaign, and you’re sure it’s going to be a hit with your target audience. But then for some reason, your campaign just doesn’t land, and your audience has an unexpected negative reaction. You may even start to lose some customers. Even when you prepare, the unfortunate reality is that even all the forethought in the world can’t always prevent a negative reaction to an ad.

AdAge Collective

If your latest campaign doesn’t get the intended reaction or is poorly-received by consumers, it can be frustrating and anxiety-inducing — but there’s no need to panic. First, take a deep breath. Then, try these six strategies from Ad Age Collective members to recover from the backlash and get your brand image back where you want it to be.

1. Try to catch it early with social listening tools.

Using the right tools can help you catch an ad that does badly early on. Social media listening and sentiment analysis tools will monitor online content that may be impossible to manage manually. Invest in these tools and make it a practice to use them and understand what people are saying in relation to a brand. Doing so will help you manage PR effectively and quickly. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

2. Be human about it.

Sometimes the best brands and advertisements have negative and unintended consequences or associations. Most recently, Planters killed off Mr. Peanut days before Kobe Bryant passed. In difficult times, advertising is no different than life. Be human, act with kindness, do the right thing, explain your actions and do something that truly shows you care equally for your brand and your audience. – Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide

3. Don’t overreact.

In today’s 24/7 social media frenzy, it’s tempting to constantly be justifying your company’s actions to the wider public. This temptation is intensified when the reaction is negative, but it pays to not overreact. With today’s consumer being constantly burdened with messages, you may be able to wait until the reaction blows over. At worst, you give yourself time to construct a composed statement. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

4. Address it head-on.

If an ad inadvertently causes a negative reaction from an audience, it is important to address the negativity head-on by apologizing or retracting the message. – Jessica Hawthorne-CastroHawthorne Advertising

5. Let your audience know you’re listening.

Don’t just bury your head in the sand and hope the tide turns. Be proactive and let your audience know you are listening to them. Gather input, ask questions and state your case. If a change is warranted, be quick but thoughtful. You can’t make everyone happy, but you can make sure everyone feels like you care. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

6. Consider whether there’s a positive spin to the publicity.

The “Silence Sucks” campaign by CHX for Sage Therapeutics is objectively one of the most compelling campaigns in pharma. The goal was to raise awareness of under-recognized postpartum depression. But when the mommy bloggers picked it up, their reaction was much different than was anticipated. The outcome: a media tornado that fueled unpaid social and broadcast press. Good? Bad? It got people talking. – Kristen Anna Roeckle, Concentric Health Experience