The world of marketing is dynamic and ever-evolving — perhaps now more than ever before.
What worked to engage and convert the customer yesterday might not work today.
And it definitely won’t work tomorrow.
With things changing so rapidly, marketing teams need to be on their toes at all times to continue meeting the needs of their audience and maintaining relevance in their industry.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for marketing teams — and entire companies — to get swept away in a sea of constant change. The inability to adapt is, in many ways, one of the top reasons marketing initiatives fail.
Adapting to change doesn’t have to mean constantly scrambling to keep up.
The more efficient approach is to future-proof your marketing efforts and initiatives, overall.
What Does It Mean To Future-Proof Your Marketing — and Why Is It Important?
To future-proof your marketing is to ensure that your marketing team can handle any sweeping changes that come their way in terms of customer expectations, industry trends, and all in-between.
While adapting to change will always take effort, future-proofing removes the need to start from scratch or reinvent the wheel with every marketing initiative you put together.
Future-proofing your approach to marketing means putting structures and processes in place to stay agile as your industry evolves. In some cases, this may mean identifying emerging technology to invest in. In others, it may mean keeping closer tabs on the changing winds in your industry. In still others, future-proofing your marketing may mean improving your understanding of your customers’ evolving needs, altogether.
In any case, a future-proof approach to marketing will allow you to stay competitive within your industry — and to continuously be able to deliver value to your customers as time marches on.
Four Important Steps Toward Future-Proofing Your Marketing
Future-proofing your marketing efforts will likely require you to rethink, revisit, or even revamp parts of your current approach.
Here, we’ll take a look at the most common areas to focus on.
Focus Less On What Works, and More On Why It Works
As we said at the beginning, what works in the marketing world today may be completely irrelevant and ineffective tomorrow.
However, the underlying reasons why certain tactics are effective at certain moments typically remain pretty constant. If you’re just focused on what’s working — or what isn’t — you’ll have a very rough time figuring out which direction to turn in the future.
But, by understanding why a certain marketing strategy or tactic is so effective, you can replicate and continue to build on this success over time.
Take, for example, the evolution of FAQ pages into knowledge bases and concierge-like support via chatbot. While FAQ pages typically provide basic answers to quick questions, the latter two can be used to deliver in-depth, highly relevant information to the customer as needed.
It’s not that “customers want chatbots instead of FAQ pages nowadays.” The lesson to take away, in this example, is that modern consumers want instant and user-friendly access to comprehensive information regarding the brands they patronize.
See the difference?
In understanding the reason the latter two have become more popular, shifting from a basic FAQ page to a chatbot-powered knowledge base would be a logical next step for your team. If your takeaway is “no one visits our FAQ page anymore,” you’d have very little idea of what more you could be doing to better serve your audience.
“Avoid getting stuck in the past and doing what ‘you’ve always done.'” “Look to the future: It’s a great time for experimentation.” – Kelly Kimura, senior director of product management at Valassis
The same applies to your brand’s approach to messaging: Understanding why certain messages resonate with your audience will allow you to expand on your messages, and to communicate them in various ways throughout your customers’ experiences with your brand.
(In other words, it’s not about finding a few key phrases and sticking to them; it’s about allowing your message to evolve with your customers’ expectations.)
To future-proof your marketing, stop worrying about the “thing” you’re delivering your customers — and stay focused on the value that “thing” brings to their lives.
Stay Driven By Data and Context
To be blunt, taking your “best guess” as to what will work for your marketing efforts in the future won’t get you anywhere.
You also don’t want to fall into the trap of making uninformed decisions first, then using the data you’ve collected to rationalize your decision.
Instead, in the interest of future-proofing your marketing efforts, you need to become wholly driven by data.
This goes back to focusing on the reasons a certain marketing initiative worked so well (or why it didn’t). In staying data-driven, the info you collect on your customers and within your industry will allow you to paint a crystal clear path for your marketing team’s future efforts.
More than just looking at this data on paper, being data-driven means understanding the context in which this data exists. This will provide even further insight into why a campaign or initiative was or wasn’t effectively able to engage your audience — and will allow you to make laser-focused improvements moving forward.
In many cases, what will work in the future for your marketing team can be determined by the data you collect today. Stay data-driven, and you’ll always be able to stay one step ahead of your competition.
Diversify Your Marketing Efforts
By today’s standards, multichannel (and, ideally, omnichannel) marketing is vital to the success of your business.
So, for starters, future-proofing your marketing efforts means actively looking to branch out to new and emerging channels as time goes on.
“There’s no one media type that works for everything.” – Kelly Kimura
But, this doesn’t mean you need to be active on every digital channel under the sun. Nor does it mean jumping onto a newly emerging channel just because it’s the newest platform on the block.
Instead, you need to look for the channels that will allow you to most effectively engage with and deliver value to your audience.
Moreover, you need to ensure your team is equipped to optimize your presence and overall approach to each marketing channel you use. Perhaps the only thing worse than not knowing how to reach your audience is knowing how to do so — but not being able to effectively do it.
Speaking of which …
Invest in the Right Technology
This is pretty straightforward.
Without the latest and greatest marketing technology in hand, you’re going to have a tough time keeping up with your future competition.
Now, chances are you already have a pretty decent-sized MarTech stack.
It’s of critical importance that you continue adding to it over time. Whether you’re looking to improve internal communications, supercharge audience research, or enhance your customer experience in some way, technology is the key to making it happen.
Again, this doesn’t mean splurging on every marketing tool available.
Your goal is to identify your team’s needs and your customers’ expectations — and figure out which available tools will allow you to continue meeting them both now and in the future.
Valassis, A Vericast Business, offers marketing tools to help teams stay up-to-date with the latest info, news, and events in their industry — and allows them to use this data to better serve their customers daily.
For more on how to future-proof your marketing, check out a replay of our webinar, The New Era of Personalized Marketing: Data, Analytics & Customer Insights.
Matthew Tilley is senior director of content marketing for Valassis and leads content marketing for the company. He has more than 20 years of experience in digital advertising and consumer promotions to develop, communicate, and distribute ideas to make modern marketers more effective.