Looking Around The Corner
Trends to Capitalize On 11/1/2018 | Gregg Emmer, Marketing Matters
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“Even if you are on the right track you will get run over if you just sit there” Will Rogers

As we are well into the all-important ‘Fourth Quarter’ there is little that can be done, that already has not been done, to improve results. We simply have to see how it all ends up on New Year’s Eve. But 2019 is just around the corner and planning for a great year means understanding trends and making the most of them.

Perhaps the most important trend is that people are trusting people - not ads. This is where the importance of testimonials and positive reviews come in. If you have a website the most valuable aspect of it might just be the reviews your customers write. Sure, promoting good deals and great promotional concepts are important, but it is the other people and what they say about you and your business that will be trusted.

It is estimated that currently 30% of people are using ad blockers and that total is growing. The number one reason mentioned is that the avalanche of online ads takes away from the whole Internet experience. But the second most mentioned reason is that people don’t trust the ads to be marketing truthfully.

While the people working on Madison Ave, and every other ad agency would claim that they always did a great job at putting creativity in ads, it is an essential trend going into the new year and beyond. It doesn’t matter if it is a print ad, online (if it gets through the blockers) of a promotional specialty - real creativity is all that will actually get noticed. The “same old - same old” attitude of consumers is stronger now than ever before. One estimate is that a person is exposed to as many as 5,000 ad impressions a day. That is more than 5 ad impressions every waking minute! Ads become background noise that is ignored.

Since promotional specialty advertising is the only advertising that has dimension and a physical existence, it starts out a few steps ahead of the other media competition. When promoting your business or your clients’, creativity will make the difference between a successful program and one that is disappointing. Don’t use any idea you come up with in the first ten minutes and you will start hitting creative territory!

There has been a steady trend for several years now and it is continuing into 2019. Stop selling and start helping your buyer buy. One report claims that 60% of buying decisions have already been made by the time you find out your customer is looking for something. You can set your business apart from the rest by bucking this trend and working with your clients much sooner in the cycle. That means actually having contact with your client on a regular basis and not simply waiting for the phone to ring or the email to arrive. Take a lesson from the financial industry and discuss with your clients what their goals for the upcoming year are. If you map out a strategy to meet their goals they will be buying their own success, not the promotional items you will use to get them there.

Another trend to avoid is mistaking communications for marketing. Remember my simple definition -”advertising informs & marketing motivates”, but communications doesn’t necessarily accomplish either of those things. You also have to realize that most of what we accomplish for our clients is actually marketing. Our goal is to help our client motivate their customers or employees to do (or not do) something. The messages we recommend should always show the benefit for the recipient, not the giver.

The last trend is all about credibility and trust. I began this article discussing that people trust people not ads. But to establish and maintain that trust you have to meet the standards of a Millennial dominated landscape! Our corporate contacts are now comprised of 75% Millennial decision makers. Regardless of any titles, university degrees of other historic notations of a person’s qualifications - Millennials are the most astute researchers ever! With a connected device in their hands or a ‘smart speaker’ in range, they can find out just about anything.

The problem for you is that they expect that you should be just as adept at digging up information as they are. The interesting dynamic is that not knowing the answer to a question you are asked is actually OK. What is not, is you asking a question of your client (customer, buyer, etc.) that you should already know the answer to. Researching key information before a sales meeting is a trend that will allow you to build trust, show the client that you have a deeper interest in their business, and to allow you to develop creative concepts easier and faster.

Understanding these trends for 2019 will help you get on the right track. Just be sure you are on the train and not under it!

Gregg Emmer is chief marketing officer and vice president at Kaeser & Blair, Inc. He has more than 40 years experience in marketing and the promotional products industry. His outside consultancy provides marketing, public relations and business planning consulting to a wide range of other businesses and has been a useful knowledge base for K&B Dealers. Contact Gregg at gemmer@kaeser-blair.com.
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