Remember the most fashionable person in school? Their clothes were flashy and unique and within a week, everyone was mimicking their style.
But mimicry was no match for their originality. They were the innovator and no matter how hard others tried to recreate their success, the same look doesn’t quite fit.
Marketers act identically. They see one brand have success using one tactic and they copy it, hoping to achieve the same results. Countless examples, from the schoolyard to international brands, have shown us that the imitator rarely lives up to the original.
The only way to innovate is to be innovative.
Many of today’s white papers and blog posts are “trend” reports. Guess what?
They often say the same things.
Obviously, what is working is working. Just because something worked for even a majority of the marketers surveyed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for your business.
Every business has its own niche, strengths and weaknesses, and things that make it different from its competitors. Rather than trying to make your company “fashionable,” find the “fashions” that work for you or, better yet, create them.
BUILD FROM THE BOTTOM
Mastery of the basics is the key to innovation.
Many companies flounder, trying to keep up with the biggest, trendiest companies in their industries, without first building a foundation that would make those efforts more successful. You can’t gain traction in your industry if you’re scrabbling around trying to “keep up” with successful companies.
You can only do equally as well as they’re doing, no better and even that is unlikely. For example, you need to be able to put out good, basic content on your blog (infographics and the like) before you try to do anything more complex, like audio or video.
The rule here is, just because you read about it on the internet doesn’t mean that:
- It is something repeatable and effective for you and
- Just because you can do something that you should do something. The value must outweigh the other potential uses of your resources like time, money, and manpower.
Trend articles are easy and fun to write, they’re inspiring and draw a lot of attention in our industry, which is why it is so easy to fall into the trap of trying to follow all of them.
Here’s what you should focus on instead of chasing trends.
TARGET YOUR AUDIENCE
Evaluate your service or product and determine who is your ideal customer. Don’t aim for accounts that YOU think should be your customer, aim for the sorts of brands who actually buy from you. Figure out who they are and figure out why they buy from you. This is the first step. Without this knowledge, you cannot move forward.
Now use that knowledge to make buyer profiles so you can target companies that are inclined to buy. You’ll use that knowledge for the next step.
After figuring out who to target, determine what you want to accomplish with your marketing efforts:
- Do you want to become a thought leader?
- Do you want to build your audience?
- Do you want to immediately make a portion of that audience part of your lead generation/sales funnel?
Figure out your aim. Without goals you will spread yourself too thin, as so many marketers do, scattering your efforts across too many things for them to actually be effective.
Also, make sure your goals are measurable. Set a date and number for whatever goal you are hoping to accomplish. Make it reasonable, not too far-fetched or it will be that much harder to motivate your team to succeed.
PLAN AND EXECUTE YOUR GOALS
Do your research and figure out how to execute the goals you want to achieve.
Maybe you want to begin recording and putting out video content. Figure out whether you want to keep content creation in-house, or outsource the video-making process. If it’s in-house, figure out what materials you need, the manpower/skills required, etc.
Set timelines to achieve the goals you set in an organized logical way. You should see a difference as your team begins to focus and achieve the goals you set.
After you’ve worked through all those steps, you are ready to begin innovating. You now have a sound basis for doing things differently, because no business is quite like yours. You’ve identified your customers, your goals and developed a plan. Now innovation can start as you come up with solutions to your unique issues.
Now that you know what your company wants and needs and started executing those goals you set, you’re ready to step away from the trendy pack. It takes creativity and drive but it is well worth it.
Just because you buy into what everyone else is doing, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. It’s critical to spend time thinking, coming up with new ideas, ones that make you stand out from the crowd, instead of blending into a hipster-infested sea of start-up clones.
What do you think? Is it better to follow the pack or risk striking out on your own? Let us know what you think?