We all know that feeling when an executive stops by our office or forwards an email about the latest and greatest marketing technology, trend or tool. I don’t know about you, but it usually stops me in my tracks.
As a marketer, I should be the one bringing innovative technology and trends to the table. Many of us, however, are so focused on our to-do lists that seem to grow with every ping of our inbox and ring of the phone that makes being proactive seem impossible. Staying on top of the latest in marketing really becomes a two-part problem: 1) Streamlining our day-to-day work so we have enough time to research and review the latest trends, and 2) Offering thought leadership on new marketing technology and trends.
Here’s how I’ve tackled the problem in the past:
Streamline marketing operations
Streamlining operations can help fulfill local sales requests effectively and efficiently. Here are three ways to consider getting that ball rolling:
- Customize marketing materials: Put the power in local sales teams’ hands to update and personalize select areas of common marketing materials. You’ll spend less time updating logos, phone numbers and store locations and your sales teams feels like part of the process.
- Electronic approvals: In past jobs, I’ve spent entirely too much time searching for emails, forwarding attachments and requesting new files to be sent. Setting up an electronic approval system helps streamline the entire approval process, and creates one central location to track all notifications and files up for approval.
- Seamless distribution: Creating and approving marketing materials is only part of the battle. You still need to make sure local teams get the materials they want and need – nothing more, nothing less. An MRM system can incorporate ordering pieces into the final stage of the process so you don’t have to manage print requests or shipping.
Offer thought leadership
Once marketing operations are in order – or at least running more smoothly than they were before – you can focus on the bigger picture. Here are my favorite tips for staying up-to-date on the latest trends in marketing.
- Allow time for inspiration: Block off 1-2 hours once a week or 30 minutes a day to read your favorite blogs, take a walk or even look at something unrelated to your field to find inspiration for your next project. It’s too easy to get caught in the status quo. Spending time getting inspired helps keep us fresh, and ready to answer a question from leadership.
- Allow time for planning: It’s easy to rush from idea to execution. We can get so excited about new ideas that we don’t spend enough time planning campaign execution and thinking through workflows and how to implement in local markets. A little time upfront will save time (and often money) down the road.
- Test and learn: When you try a new campaign, or test out a new technology, it’s important to test and learn. I’m not just referring to basic A/B testing, either. Try it out. Take advantage of trial periods. Experiment. Have a little fun with new technology. Just keep your marketing plan or goal in mind to help ground you so you don’t get too off track.
- Anticipate needs: Chances are you already know who is most likely to bring up a new marketing trend or technology. Take a minute to think about what he or she likes, usually brings to your door and what the interest is really about. That can help you anticipate what they might bring to you next, and even help you find it, and share it, first.
- Have stats to back it up. The beauty of marketing is we love statistics. We want to know what worked, what didn’t and why. Even with new technology and trends, there are often statistics – related or unrelated. It also helps to keep your marketing and company goals handy so you can help guide conversations away from shiny new tools and back to the ones – new or old – that help you achieve specific business objectives.
These are just a few ways that I’ve been able to be prepared for the next marketing disruption. How do you stay on top of the latest marketing trends? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter @vya_systems.