What doesn’t change in Marketing

by | Mar 26, 2021

Humans are hardwired to change. Almost all of the stories we love to hear, watch and tell are linked to change and the risks and opportunities that come with it. In movies and books the change is introduced as the ‘inciting incident’. The inciting incident in love stories is usually “boy meets girl” or vice versa. In dramas or thrillers the inciting incident is a change to the main characters life that derails their everyday life and send them on an adventure. Characters have to then battle the risks and come out on top and better off at the end.

But it’s not just in fictional stories that change is tied to hopes and dreams. To a lesser degree we assign hopes and dreams to change too:

  • A new job
  • A move to a new location
  • New clothes
  • Ushering in a new year

We expect and assign a belief or hope for an improvement in our lives to materialise with these changes. Marketers often use these occasions to tie their product to these beliefs. But sometimes marketers are also the ones who are affected by these changes themselves.


“The newest trends that will change marketing forever”


This obsession with new is most apparent around the turn of the year where we come across such as “42 Digital Marketing Trends You Can’t Ignore In 2021”. Marketing has gone through disruption unlike any other business area in the last 20-30 years. Completely new distribution channels such as social media marketing, search engine marketing, display marketing, email marketing and many more have affected almost every existing industry.

It’s not like marketers are blinding reading and believing everything they see online. It’s because marketing has changed so much that marketers are constantly looking out for the next wave of innovation that will change the landscape.

If you were early to the party when Google Ads came out in the early noughties, you had a chance of getting very cost-efficient campaigns which could have provided your business with incredible returns. Similarly, if you were there before Facebook’s news feed algorithms deprioritised company content, you could have reached a lot of customers with your company account at very little cost.

But there are equally as many flops: For years, Voice Search has been highlighted as this hot new area that will change search marketing and take over. That article was posted in 2017 and it’s not even the eldest by far. Despite all the home assistants (e.g. Alexa, Google Home) in peoples’ homes voice search still hasn’t taken off in any significant way.

Chatbots were also predicted to take on the majority of customer service queries and also enable better conversion rates. Today, chatbots are useful but they are not yet the game-changer they have been professed to be.


In with the old: Focus on things that don’t change


Jeff Bezos has some fascinating insight that helped Amazon focus on giving customers what they want, rather than obsessing with the next new thing:

“I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.”
Not only is this about the constants in life. But Jeff identified three areas that Amazon’s customers care about. And he doubled down on those in the years after the company was founded: Low prices, fast delivery and large range.

Although we can’t answer your company’s specific challenges and opportunities in this email. We can look at a few more general areas that apply to most companies’ marketing strategies.

Here are four areas that I don’t believe will change in the near or mid-term.


People still read


People love watching video, listening to audio and they also love reading. So wherever you’ve got writing, make your copy count. Good copy will lead to high brand affinity (because people will enjoy reading your writing) and high conversion rates (because you’ll convince customers that your product is what they need).


People still love good stories


Stories are everywhere. Whether you’re watching a movie, reading a paper, reading a book or gossiping about someone else. Humans love a story and we’ve previously talked about the powerful impact storytelling can have on your brand. Because people still talk to each other, why not help increase the rate at which they refer their friends, families and colleagues to your business?


People still get mail (and they open it)


Mail keeps on arriving and people like having things printed on paper. Physical book sales are still going strong and are proof of that. Why doesn’t your company send something informative and beautiful through the post? With all the advertising bombardment that’s happening online, sending through a nice booklet with great content in it will mean your brand will get quality 1 on 1 time with your customer.


People still like to be surprised and delighted


Ok, this one is pretty obvious. But surprisingly few businesses bother. Can you break your customers’ expectations and delight them? It can be as simple as showing them a fun gif of a parrot being happy right after they’ve purchased.

With regards to your business, what are the less trendy, perhaps less exciting but still important things that are unlikely to change over the foreseeable future? Instead of chasing lots of new trends, focussing on those steady constants may reap better rewards.