Definitive(ish) List of 2016 Marketing Predictions

We made it to the last 2 weeks of 2015, crazy year...  Crazy for me personally with the broken neck (don't take life for granted!), crazy with all the "Unicorns" that emerged, crazy in terms of the continued innovation in business and marketing, you get it...

There are hundreds of articles on "2016 trends" to accompany your eggnog (Tip: Makers Mark and eggnog rocks).  The good news for you?  I handpicked the top articles, jotted down a few predictions of my own and sure enough listed 'em directly below just for you! :) 


"Innovation is change that unlocks new value"
-Jamie Notter

  • Five Social Trends Marketers Won't Be Able to Ignore from AdvertisingAge. Not sure I agree that "Messaging platforms will trump broadcast social networks", but you need to see their points on Snapchat TV. 
  • Business 2 Community infographic called out the over-techie marketers out there, computers STILL can't do your job for you! 
    • Your Brand Reputation Isn't An Algorithm.  I won't be that guy that says "SEO is dead" or "there's no need to put a press release on the wire", but you need to x...
    • Marketing Automation Matures. The platforms and tech won't do the job for you, but they can damn sure make it easier and more cost effective. 
  • InstaHype and Double L Brands are banking on the fact Influencer Marketing will finally mature and hold bloggers accountable for real business metrics. 
  • The next big platform will not be smart glasses, smart cars or virtual reality from Business Insider, are they more bullish on augmented reality?
    • Magic Leap's $827 million capital raise is bewildering, especially with NO product except a video. Huge opportunity for other AR tech to capitalize on this buzz and actually launch REAL products, likkkkke Dallas-based Aireal
  • 5 Predictions that WON'T Happen from eMarketer are pretty great, particularly their point that young people WILL NOT abandon Facebook.
  • BONUS Restaurant Trends:  Great article from Food Channel says "A No Tipping Future" will emerge in 2016, and "Tangy" is the magic 2016 flavor palate. 
  • ***UPDATE on NYE:  Had to include the predictions in this Social Media Examiner article as I think this is a SOLID list of 10 predictions!

 

As we all know, this will be a different list by the end of Q1... I damn sure don't have all the answers, but looking forward to being part of the crazy innovations in 2016!

 

And, if you're still reading, we'll end on a personal note...

I'm in the middle of my post-game analysis of the year, and 2015 kicked my ass. I paused Double L Brands, randomly moved to Denver to unsuccessfully launch a music startup, broke my neck, and have spent the last few months getting it all back together.  Just remember, SHIT HAPPENS! :)  Plenty of amazing personal experiences, growth and learnings -- I'm REALLY looking forward to the 2016 ride with all of you! 

Keep Livin' that Dream!

-LL

 

Marketing Guide: Simple Hacks To Launch & Grow A Brand in 2016

Marketing isn't as complicated as people think.  However, it's not the forte of most businesses owners, which can make it intimidating and land the marketing playbook "on the back burner".

Small businesses and startups typically remember to launch their website, print business cards and tell friends, family and old colleagues about their venture.  Growing businesses probably have sales channels, social media and the rest of the "basics" in place.  Those are all important, but there are many more (not so complicated) marketing tactics to help brands remain relevant and grow in 2016.

 

What are some local marketing strategies that startups often overlook?

  • They don’t maximize the value of local complimentary partnerships. They can co-sponsor existing events, or simply help promote these other brands’ initiatives. Not only is this good for the community, but it is a way to expose the brand to existing networks and more mature social media followings – immediately increasing their brand awareness in a positive way and growing their email database and social media following if done correctly.
  •  Influencer Marketing -- recruiting bloggers and celebrities to promote your brand -- is extremely valuable.  This is similar to the local partnerships above, but can allow you to reach much larger, differentiated, yet still targeted audiences.  With the right strategy in place, this can drive awareness, social media and REVENUE.
    • ***Influencer Matchmaking Tool:  Head over to InstaHype, submit your campaign and I'll personally provide you FREE tips to ensure the campaign is a success.
  • Startups don’t utilize the social media advertising tools for small businesses. While they may have their social media pages setup, they should utilize Facebook and LinkedIn’s geographically targeted social media ads to drive awareness and conversion (new fans, email sign-ups or online purchase).
  • New businesses often miss out on easy media opportunities. Local TV and radio stations, local business publications and trade magazines are always in need of positive news about the community, give it to them.
 
"We have technology, finally, that for the first time in human history allows people to really maintain rich connections with much larger numbers of people." - Pierre Omidyar, Founder, eBay
 

In terms of claiming digital "real estate," what are the most important things these brands should do?

  • Don’t waste too much money on a website. New businesses should be able to launch a website for less than $2,000 using Squarespace, Wix or even a Wordpress template.
  • Claim all social media assets using the same ‘vanity URL’ (what it says at the end, like Facebook.com/DoubleLBrands), even if you won’t use them all (and you shouldn’t use them all)
  • Setup and/or claim your brand on all review sites (YELP, Google Local, Opentable, Tripadvisor, etc.). This ensures all info is accurate (hours, website, menu), you can upload photos and you’ll be aware of reviews about your business.
  • Email Marketing is still extremely valuable, invest the time in setting it up. Use a service like MailChimp to import all the email addresses you have, create a simple template (nothing flashy, be straightforward to keep it more personal) and layout your monthly email strategy to remain top-of-mind.

 

What else would be included in a list of must-do local marketing strategies for startup businesses?

  • Don’t let technology make you forget about the value in a good old-fashioned handshake. Networking is a numbers game, the more people you tell about your business the more opportunity they can help or make an intro for you. Get out to local networking groups, trade associations, community events and everywhere else your customer base or partners may be.
  • Invest in taking your email marketing to the next level. Don’t just set this up and email people randomly, really put time into the monthly strategy and use as much automation as possible here. Tools available today let you schedule emails, automate responses and even set other replies to automatically keep the dialogue going – it’s worth your valuable time up-front!
  • Build your intern program early on and have your first intern lay the groundwork. Work with local college admissions departments or career services to recruit interns and get them to work! It will take time up-front to give them the right direction, but that investment is worth it when they start contributing and taking work off your plate. Ensure they are documenting all processes, tracking their results and in a place to then help you train the next intern, and the next.                                                               ***Pro Tip: Hire 2 or 3 and build-in competitions between then to identify the one you should keep for the long haul.

 

There are plenty of other tips and tricks to help, please just make sure you don't get caught-up with "new and shiny" (Ex: Don't be on Snapchat if you're selling elderly care products). Always keep the end goal in mind, focus on TRACKING and tweaking your initiatives, and let me know if you have any other questions!

Good Luck!

- LL 

How Do You Know If Your Marketing Firm Is Screwing You Over?

 

How do you choose a marketing firm?

Should I hire a digital agency or a creative firm?

What the hell is a "Growthhacker"?!

How do I know whether they're doing their job?

 

These are a few of the questions small and medium-sized organizations face when trying to take their brand to the next level. I've been in these conversations, seen some great partnerships formed, but I've also seen many horrendous decisions made and a lot of money wasted. Here are some straightforward thoughts and tactics on how to make this BIG decision, take it for what it's worth and let me know if I missed anything! 

 

Most small and medium-sized businesses are run by entrepreneurs that are extremely passionate and great at what they do! That said, many of them have never had anything to do with the core function of marketing before, making marketing decisions very difficult and scary… Eventually they realize the importance of marketing and have what they consider a “marketing budget”, and it’s time to choose a marketing agency or partner.

The business owner knows the business, products/services and customers better than anyone, so handing over the reigns to an outside firm is scary. Before doing so, they need to do a brand analysis and get everything in their head onto paper. What is your elevator pitch? Who are the current and future target customers? Why do they buy from you versus the competition? Is this an emotional decision or financial? Where do they live and shop (in-person or online)? And the list goes on (sign-up at LandonLedford.com & I’ll send a brand analysis document)…

 

"A very important addition to this brand analysis is to ask your current customers what they like, dislike and what they would like to see from your company!"

 

Once they REALLY understand the brand and their business, the owner needs to figure out exactly what (monthly) budget exists, and what sales revenues (and profits) this budget is supposed to help them reach. From there, it’s time to reach out to local marketing firms for help!  

Don’t let a creative shop say a new logo and website is what the brand needs… Don’t let a social media consultant say social media will make the brand take off... Push to talk to the strategy teams (probably the founder), ask how they plan to reach that target audience (you already identified) in the places they make purchases and how they will track results? Then how will they take this information to update the approach monthly to maximize your budget and reach the goals you have?  

Talk to at least one creative agency, a digital marketing firm and a PR firm to understand the different areas of specialization, which will help identify the gaps in each approach and which of the options is most targeted for the brand. I would recommend getting a second opinion from another firm you trust, or at least someone that has been through this before (feel free to email me at Landon@DoubleLBrands.com). From there, you've got to make a data/results driven decision, then it’s time to start testing (yes, it’s all an ongoing test) and hopefully growing the business!

I realize this is pretty straightforward and to the point, but these are VERY important things to consider and not overlook -- this is the future of your business we're talking about! Let me know any questions or thoughts, I'm always here to help. 

Keep Rockin!

-LL

 

 

 

 

Abercrombie Changed… Could They Have Done it Better?

Just finished reading a great article by Ashley Lutz titled “Abercrombie & Fitch has completely reinvented Itself”, and of course now I’m here thinking about it from an innovation perspective…

Due to numerous circumstances (recent PR issues and their customer base growing older to name a couple), the brand has gone from “synonymous with preppy polo shirts, sexy ads, and loud logos” to much more generic clothing to appeal to a more broad audience. Hell, it almost seems like now they ARE “making clothes for large women”! (sorry, had to hit on that royal screw-up)

I’m not here to talk about the fashion (as I sit at a coffee shop in a free tank top), I’m here to give my opinion on how Abercrombie can better reach this new/evolved audience. For more thoughts on innovation in marketing head to LandonLedford.com and shoot me your email!

It’s obvious the messaging has been tweaked to match the new look/feel of the clothing, but I don’t think they’re “nailing it” with regard to marketing to these aging Millennials. I’m not in the target demo, and maybe they’ve done this, but here are a couple simple tactics they could employ:

Crowdsourcing the designs and changes. 

When making a drastic change like this in the clothing’s look/feel, let the customers help with the design!Customers don’t really always know what’s right, but by engaging their fans in the process it would ensure they understand the brand evolution, and they have consumer buy-in both figuratively and literally. The current approach of putting a ton of marketing dollars behind it after-the-fact means they missed out on a lot of engagement touch points along the way — which would have really activated their fan base to help them spread the word organically (and serve as an army to defend them if they screwed up).

Influencer marketing. 

Abercrombie could take their huge marketing budgets and put it toward recruiting influential tastemakers as brand advocates!

  • This could include quasi-celebrities in their mid-20's wearing the clothing and posting photos as they’re just living their life. The only catch at this point is that people may not recognize the brand as Abercrombie unless it is called-out (so either call it out or find other ways to track/share on Abercrombie’s own digital assets).
  • They could also use a service like InstaHype to recruit numerous fashion bloggers, Instagram and Pinterest influencers in specific markets and run campaigns or competitions with them. That big budget of theirs could be put behind these “everyday people” (via social media ads or even getting to test Instagram’s new ads) to really promote them instead of just pushing the Abercrombie brand messaging out. This would be a good way to increase awareness of their changes, but could also be used to drive traffic to e-commerce platforms.

There are plenty of other things they could do, and I may very well have missed some GOOD things they’ve done... What do you think they should do? Please share any great ideas in the comments!

-LL

Know How to KILL Innovation?

"Smith Corona -- the best typewriter company in the world!"

You know when you’re in meetings with the old, stubborn guys that “don’t get it” with regard to digital, social media or other change? Or the CEO that has been running their business for 27 years, is now losing money, but won’t shake it up a bit to survive? I. HATE. THAT. This is one of my favorite stories to illustrate the problem that I’ve told to NUMEROUS clients, written in “Exploiting Chaos” and enjoyed by many innovators around the world… Happy Reading!

 

(this is NOT word-for-word, but you get the idea)

5 monkeys were placed in a cage, and in that cage was a ladder that led up to a ripe bunch of bananas. The catch is that there was a water hose connected to the ladder, and every time a monkey climbed up to get a banana, ALL THE MONKEYS were soaked with the hose.

When the 1st monkey scampered up for a banana, they were all soaked with water. Then another got hungry and tried the same, and another. At this point, the monkeys in the cage caught on and quit climbing the ladder.

The scientists then began swapping the original monkeys 1-by-1 with new monkeys. When a new monkey got in the cage and started running to the bananas, the group would attack it before it could get there so they didn’t get soaked. This happened time and time again, even when it was now all new monkeys in the cage.

The water hose was eventually removed, but it didn’t matter — the monkeys would not dare go for the bananas now… The message (or company culture) was now engrained in them.

The same behavior kept persisting until the monkeys were going to starve, simply because “thats the way we do things around here”

 

See the connection there between the monkeys and the old school guys that won’t evolve? It’s frustrating to see, and even more frustrating to be a part of…

If you’re up against something like this, there are ways to get them to try new things, but it’s a DELICATE situation. Shoot me an email (Landon@DoubleLBrands.com) if you want to run a situation by me, I’ll help where I can!

Keep Livin’ the Dream!

-LL

 

Tips to Beat the Competition at Marketing

Happy Monday! I saw these generic questions in a HARO request this morning, which normally indicates others have similar questions… Here are my thoughts, let me know if you want to discuss! :)

 

Question 1: What are some overlooked ways to out market your competition?

Your competition is taking a traditional, generic marketing approach based on metrics they learned years ago (# of ad impressions, traffic figures for billboard ads, etc.). Don’t try to compete there because it’s expensive and not targeted enough, instead take these approaches:

  • Incorporate digital advertising like on LinkedIn or Facebook, these are very targeted and you can monitor success and tweak based on results (clicks, purchases, etc.).
  • Incorporate influencer marketing (tools like http://instahype.it/ help find them). This is using their trusted peers that have large digital followings as your brand advocates — modern word-of-mouth marketing.

Question 2: Should you always be concerned about your competition?

Yes, but not because you want to replicate their tactics or compete with marketing dollars, knowledge is power. You should be highly aware of the competition (and their marketing tactics) as this will enable you to see gaps in their strategy and opportunities to “do it better”, faster, different and cheaper.

Question 3: What are 3 tips to stay ahead of your competition?

  1. Know where they’re spending marketing dollars and who they’re targeting, and either target the people they’re missing, or beat them at their own game with more modern marketing techniques.
  2. Use digital/social media automation tools like Hootesuite and social media tracking/analysis tools like Sprout Social to gain a deep understanding of what your target audience engages with online — then put more of that content out there for them to sink their teeth into.
  3. While the competition focuses on direct ads to consumers, you can instead put some of your resources toward becoming the “thought leader” in your industry — when people think of that industry moving forward, they won’t think about the competition’s ad, but will remember your infographic that educated them.

Hope these help, let me know in the comments any other questions or if you want more specifics! #PeopleHelpinPeople

-LL