James Loomstein
James Loomstein 17 March 2017

7 Things CMOs Need to Know for 2017

Digital marketing is more important now than ever, and you need to know that you are doing the right things in the right way. As a business leader, it’s a daily requirement to think both about the bigger picture, and the details of how to achieve it. Keep these tips in mind as you plan your 2017 strategy.

Customer is still key in 2017.

So finding out what they need from you and understanding their behavior will become even more critical. Customers expect you to fit in seamlessly with their digital lifestyle, which is now stretching across multiple devices and channels at once. Certain industries know this and are constantly testing consumer responses, which is great because they are doing some of the work for you.

Learn who you should be watching, because they are also paving the way for new buyer behavior. (hint: retail is one of them) That change in behavior, in turn, affects how a consumer expects to buy from you, no matter what you’re selling.  Buying groceries on the internet? Customers love it, but now they expect to buy everything from sports cars to real estate online too.  Don’t get left behind because you didn’t pay attention.

Content is king.

But it’s also a runaway train and consumers are catching on. In 2017, your content has to align closely with your audience and MUST provide VALUE. I’ll repeat that again for the cheap seats, Your Content Must Provide Value !! Investing in content that helps your consumer learn or solve a problem will have them eating out of your hand, and telling all their audiences too. Checking the box and fulfilling the content quota won’t cut it anymore if you want to stand out from the crowd. Rethink before posting anything that doesn’t directly help your audience, or they’ll tune you out faster than a teenager with an iPad.

Thought leaders and influencers.

Want to set the trends? Then you need to be a thought leader. Want to keep up with the trends? Then you need to know the right people. Companies that consumers like, trust, and follow will continue to stand their ground in the maelstrom of digital marketing happening in 2017. Not only engaging but making real connections with audiences is a major factor adding to your success in 2017. Knowing what’s registering on the radar of thought leaders and influencers is a quick way to know what you should be watching out for in your industry. So either be one, or get to know one.

Be creative in un-creative places.

Eventually, all the strategizing, researching, and planning boils down to the nitty gritty details of what you need to DO. The tactics, the SEO, the plug-ins and algorithms. This is when you need to get creative… (tech guy scratches his head…). And yes, that’s a stereotype, but you get my drift. Google, Facebook, and other online platforms are getting more sophisticated every day, so a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter execution really won’t get you noticed in 2017. If you’re doing the same thing everyone else is doing, don’t be surprised when you get the exact same result; or none at all. Refer back to the previous tip by seeking experience and direction from thought leaders, agencies, or network with people outside your industry for fresh ideas.

Automate. Carefully.

Why spend valuable time doing something when someone else can do it cheaper and better? When you’re breaking your budget or losing sleep trying to get things done, automation can be your key to keeping up. Save your time and payroll dollars for more valuable pursuits. Automation is a double-edged sword, however, and learning the smartest ways to do it is… well, smart.

With the spread of artificial intelligence, bots, and the million other automated systems, consumers will come to expect some form of automation from you. It shows them that you are efficient. But DON’T leave systems unattended, or automate at a point in the journey when a customer wants a more personal experience. Achieving the right balance of automation benefits everyone including the customer.

Focus, Focus, Focus.

Find the perfect audience for your product or service, and solve their problem perfectly. All of the elements going into your strategy, your budget, your business plan, and your marketing need to focus on helping your audience, and your audience only. The more you can narrow down your audience, the more you’ll be able to understand everything about them and how to serve them. More specifically, what single problem are you trying to solve for them?

You can’t be everything to everyone and you shouldn’t try to be, especially when you are still staking claim to your market share. Don’t try to out-Walmart Walmart. Grab and hold the attention of your ideal audience and you can worry/celebrate about having to scale up your business later.

And finally….

What’s next?

This is what I can promise will happen in 2017. Algorithms will change, consumers will change, marketing channels will change, etc… The best thing you can do for your business is to keep learning. No matter what your business and how many people you have working for you, everyone involved needs to have continued education. There really is no other way to keep up with the insane pace of marketing and business innovation happening today.  When you map out your strategy for 2017, these tips can serve as a guide to take what you learned in 2016 and do it better in 2017.

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