I have a friend who is the manager of a pastry store. As any manager, his question at the end of the day is- how much of my product did I sell?
And to find out that, you take some things into account and see the variables which helped the business or hindered it.
It really depends on many things like the salesperson, what day it is, how many people are coming in and the list can go on.
But there is a thing that my friend is a little bit concerned about: the visuals he uses for promoting his products.
He hired a graphic designer to do this job and guess what, the designer made a great job! He designed a stylish poster, minimalist, with good typography, well aligned with the brand identity and color combinations. If you are a designer, you will understand why that’s extraordinary. It’s fashionable. But this is where my friend got stuck. The visuals are only in trend for a day or a short period of time. But what about tomorrow? Will this “trendy poster” meet the needs of the one week from now?
Well, when the customer is looking at it, he doesn’t know where to start reading from, what are the benefits of the product and what he can buy to enjoy a great lunch.
You see, it’s cool to play by the trends. And in marketing, trends are deceiving! The industry will surely appreciate your work. But the real question is: Who plays a more important role: colleagues and partners? Or your customers – the ones who you really want to consume your content?
Trends are something that every marketer struggles with.
Keeping up to what’s popular at the moment, all the time – is a headache.
Was Snapchat a trend?
At the beginning of 2016 Gary Vaynerchuk promoted Snapchat – a social media network on which you can upload content that disappears within 24 hours. This platform is the one that introduced the term “stories” to us and which allows its users to consume media content from big publishers in a different way that on other platforms. (I explained a little bit the concept of Snapchat for the one guy who is living on Mars now – thanks Elon).
Everybody went crazy about Snapchat. Every marketing publisher wrote about how to do Snapchat Marketing. I fell in that trend too, so I wrote 3 articles and designed 1 infographic and 1 Slideshare presentation. Guess what? I downloaded the app and started using it along Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and Medium. But then Instagram adapted to the market and launched Stories. So I started using Snapchat less. I kept the app on my phone only to look at some of my friends and celebrities and see what is new.
After a while, I deleted Snapchat. This trend was over for me.
But now is August 2017 and Gary is using more Instagram than Snapchat and I’ve heard a lot of people talking about other platforms but not so much about Snapchat.
In fact, I even heard Gary at a conference where he talked about why it’s important to understand the market and why it’s a bad thing to be romantic about a platform; because one day maybe that platform will disappear and what will you do next?
I want to outline that Snapchat was a short-term trend (for me and my friends). I’m not a marketing analyst or social media guru to see what is the future of the little ghost, but as far as I can see (and the numbers don’t lie) – Instagram executed the Stories feature much better than Snapchat.
Even if being trendy is cool, it doesn’t mean we need to put all our eggs in one basket.
Snapchat was trendy, like influencer marketing, millennials, VR, AI, content marketing or other topics you can hear about are today.
Why are trends dangerous from a marketing perspective?
Because using the trend will make you go from one place to another without noticing that you’re never meeting your goals.
Chasing trends will kill your marketing purpose.
But let me put it in other words: are trends some kind of marketing opportunities?
As we know, there are hundreds and thousands of articles, videos, webinars and ebooks about a certain trend that can change your life, take your business to the moon and back and make you stay at the same table like Jeff Bezos. But the one thing I definitely know is that these trends come from a certain context, witha certain amount of money and maybe an industry. So can it be replicated to your strategy? This is the question you should ask yourself before you dive in this new trend, whichever it may be.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the power of trends. For example, if you are a journalist you need to write about trends and give this certain topic to the public so they can consume it – because they want it and they are looking for it.
But, as a marketer, you can’t rely ONLY on trends. You should look at them, test and experiment with them, but not rely 100% on them.
If your audience is embracing this new platform and engaging with this new idea, then you should dive in, but not because of the sake of the trend, but because of your audience.
What if Facebook will shut down tomorrow? What if SEO will change 180° tomorrow? What if Apple will launch a social network platform? What if the Internet will be dead? You don’t know and nobody knows.
Trends will fail and marketers will pay their dues.
That’s why a marketer must understand that a trend is like fire. You can use it only in certain place, with a really good purpose. Otherwise, it will burn your fingers!
Don’t forget, chasing trends will kill your marketing.