2023: Time for A Marketing Gut Check

Content Image for 2023: Time for A Marketing Gut Check
Cover Image for 2023: Time for A Marketing Gut Check

By Matthew W. Certo

For many, the ides of January are a time for renewal. We set goals for ourselves in the year ahead –– be it to work less, workout more, or completely change the way we think about both. If we’re lucky, we hold true to these resolutions ‘till spring. As for the other 91% of us, well, it doesn’t take a probability wizard to spot those less-than-favorable odds.

So in lieu of making resolutions this year, we’ll be focusing our energy on reflection. What worked for clients this past year? What worked for us? What could have been better? As you contemplate the business outlook for 2023, you may find that improving your marketing performance can be as simple as doing one thing new or differently.

Like most new years, 2023 is gearing up to be an interesting one, and our current circumstances should add some context to what you examine, reflect upon, or change. COVID-19 has been tough on everyone. And now, nearly three years (!) separated from the onset of the pandemic, our overall behavior as consumers and institutions has changed –– in some ways, forever. Rising inflation has impacted pretty much everything (and everyone) and it’s clear that spending is either slowing or likely to slow.

As we at Findsome & Winmore look forward to 2023, we urge you to look inward to uncover ways to renew commitments to customers, key organizational objectives, and marketing initiatives. Below are a few ways to reexamine your existing tactics and bring just a touch of that #NewYearNewMe energy into your business.

1. Get Clear on Your Audience by Refreshing Your Marketing Personas

It’s always a good exercise to review the various segments of your customers (e.g. your audience) and think about what their pain points are relative to your business. Most businesses have 2-4 audience segments that, while they may share some common traits, vary substantially. So does what they expect from you. We encourage you to create a simple chart of your audience segments, assign demographic descriptions to each, establish a run-down of their needs, and pin down some pain points relative to what your business provides. Although there are myriad ways to do this, a simple example of how to do this is below:

Once you’ve done the hard work of defining who you’re marketing to and what they actually want from you, the result can be quite powerful –– guiding everything from your content creation to product development and service offering.

2. Consider a Refresh of Your Brand

It doesn’t take long for a brand’s identity to look and feel stale, and regular refreshes can do a brand good. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to start over from scratch; sometimes it just means it’s time for a critical reappraisal of your color palettes, photography, or design styles. Even exploring some new textures or patterns can go a long way to take your brand from looking homemade to refined. One client we worked with recently was using an antiquated and lifeless illustration style which set their entire identity back decades. Addressing small issues like this can go a long way.

3. Contemplate a New Campaign

While altering a brand identity isn’t always the right thing to do (after all, you may have invested a great deal of time and energy into the existing one), sometimes you need a new way to tack an exclamation point onto an existing message. A new campaign can not only annunciate a point, but also add an infusion of fresh energy to your offering. Campaigns are great ways to be disruptive with an idea or concept across all of your channels, be they in support of new products or service lines, a seasonal offering of some sort, a marketplace trend, or even a company milestone or anniversary.  In these ways and others, campaigns are instrumental in channeling energy into the marketplace to reignite interest and generate momentum.

4. Conduct an Attention Audit

Myspace was once the number one social media platform. The most hilarious meme of 2015 was “Left Shark.” And just five short years ago, what we now know as TikTok was a fledgling lip-syncing site called Musical.ly. Attentions and interests change, and the new year is a perfect time to make sure you’re still keeping your customers’ attention by conducting a thorough attention audit.

Start by taking inventory of every social media site your business is currently active on. (If you’re still on Foursquare, that might be a clear sign this audit is long overdue.) From there, zoom in on each platform and see which content stands out as top-performing. If you’re noticing specific platforms with middling content across the board, consider whether your energy (and money) would be better spent elsewhere. Armed with this knowledge, you can begin to think about where you might want to meet the needs of your audience segments online.

5. Create or Retool Your Content Strategy

If you don’t have a content strategy or haven’t reviewed yours in a while, now’s as good a time as any. Though Instagram and Facebook reign supreme, the strength of platforms like Reddit and Twitter mean there are more ways than ever for brands and businesses to gain visibility and stamp out a digital footprint. And if you’re not one of the millions of businesses who have found a home in TikTok’s short-form video community, 2023 might be the year to change that.

The essence of a content strategy is to be thoughtful about how your brand, as a committed publisher, wishes to reach its audience segments online with content that brings them closer to you. The strategy itself lays out a matrix of the type of content you’ll create (be it a blog, e-mail newsletter, or podcast), the cadence you’ll commit to in terms of publication, and your approach to differentiation in the market.

Short-form video, like the kind found on TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube shorts (raise your hand if this is the first time you’re learning about one or more of those) accounts for 80% of mobile data traffic –– with the average user consuming an eye-watering 19 hours of video content per week. If you’re looking for ways to reignite your content strategy, you might be best served by starting with engaging, relevant, and timely short-form content.

6. Decide on your Primary Channel for Exposure

You can’t be everything to everyone, and the road to content failure is paved with brands that tried to do too much on too many channels. For some brands, just deciding on one channel to pursue can be enough. After all, it’s better to have one channel filled with timely, relevant content than 6 channels which are content ghost towns. It’s not a great look when your users peruse your online presence and realize that your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn channels are all collecting dust. If needed, focus on one as your primary platform and let the others follow behind (or in some cases wither away altogether.) For some brands, addressing this single piece of the marketing puzzle could lead to a big win in 2023.

7. Reevaluate your “Outlook” on Email

We’ve talked about the shiny new toys like TikTok and other emerging platforms, but we can’t neglect the importance of one of a marketer’s greatest tools: email. In its most primitive form, email has been around for over 50 years. But today’s marketers are leveraging the platform in innovative ways; a far cry from the electronic mail you might’ve seen way back in 1971 or even in the days of dial-up. 89% of marketers in the last year said that email was their primary marketing strategy, and it could very well be yours too. But are you actually reaching their inbox? Or just watching virtual paper planes glide straight into the “junk” bin?   

If your email strategy for 2023 is: write emails, send emails, ???, profit, we encourage you to rethink your approach. In a recent episode of the Brand Narrative podcast, Findsome & Winmore CMO Kelly Lafferman and founder Matt Certo spoke at length about the countless ways brands and businesses can capitalize on (and revolutionize) this 50-year-old tech. We urge you to give it a listen, but in short: start by embracing storytelling, utilizing engaging and exciting formats, and segmenting your audiences.

No one knows for sure what 2023 will bring, but implementing the above marketing strategies will give you and your business the best chance of making it a landmark year. And if you’re not quite sure how to execute on these tips, we’ll look forward to hearing from you in 2023.

From all of us here at Findsome & Winmore: Happy New Year!