Bandwagon Marketing Trends

Should You Jump Aboard the Latest Bandwagon in Marketing Trends?

In July 14, 2014
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Once upon a time, it seemed the world went right along without marketing trends. There were radio and TV spots, print ads, billboards and not much else. And it remained that way for years. Decades even. Relatively speaking, it was easy. Today, due to the mindboggling way technology accelerates development, there’s s a new marcom tool or tactic every several months stealing the spotlight and causing everyone in the field to wonder if it’s going to need to be included in the next communications plan. This development won’t slow down. But we should, as marketing professionals.

With most marketing trends, a wait-and-see approach is usually best. Let’s use QR codes as an example. They appeared on the scene almost overnight, and they instantly became a hot topic of conversation in client-agency meetings everywhere. “We need to put a code in our ads. Maybe the ad should be nothing but the code. What should the code link to? What do we want the user to do?”

Next thing you knew, the little Rorschach-ish icons were littering every ad, billboard, and poster you came across. There was just one problem. Very few rewards. Far too often, you’d shoot the code with the reader you went to the trouble to download onto your smartphone, wait for it to do its thing, then be totally let down when it simply opened up the advertiser’s dang website or some lame PDF of a flier. With so little thought going into where these codes would take the user, folks quickly became disinterested in the little black and white squares. They fizzled fast.

But with marketing trends, you don’t have to wait long for the next one. Overnight, apps became the new hot topic in meetings. “We need an app” was soon heard in conference rooms around the country. Really? You need an app? Why? Does your target audience want an app from you? What will it do for them? How will it help them? How will it help your business? Most people weren’t thinking about these questions, but somehow figured an app was the answer. After all, it was the next hot thing.

The folks who’ve done great things with QR codes and apps answered all the tough questions before deciding that the answer was this new technological wonder. They made the whole experience rewarding to the user. They made certain there was value–something really fun, great information, or a handy tool. The user was actually happy they went to the trouble.

If you jumped on one of these marketing trends, did your users have such an experience? If no, hopefully you didn’t turn your marketing communications plans upside down to figure out how to squeeze in a QR code or lose a bunch of money developing an app that only your spouse and co-workers bothered to download. But if you did, then you at least learned a valuable lesson.

Hopping aboard a bandwagon when you’re not really sure where the marketing trend is heading is dangerous. Or at the very least, expensive. Don’t get sidetracked by the next great thing—there are just too many next great things. Sit tight. Watch and learn. If the shiny new Holy Grail of marketing trends is truly worthwhile, it’ll still be around and relevant a year or two from now and then you can work it into your plans if it makes sense.

Rick Riley

Mom always said, “If you don’t have anything nice to blog, don’t blog anything at all.” Okay, that’s not true. In fact, mom never read a single blog, nice or otherwise. But it’s still good advice. So look to me for nice … or at least interesting, relevant or funny. Well, maybe smartass or irreverent or sarcastic, too. But that’s it. If it doesn’t fall into one of those categories, you didn’t hear it from me.