Agencies need to start ignoring the trends and keep their eyes on the prize

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Dan Deeks-Osburn

June is when everything starts going our way in Britain. The days get longer. The weather warms up. The sun even comes out for a few minutes. But June also means we’re halfway through the year. It’s time to take stock on where we’ve been the last six months and where we’re going. At the end of every year marketers and agencies run themselves ragged trying to predict big, societal changes that will radically change everything next year. Every single year.

And every single year, we look the other way as these things fail to come to fruition. Remember SoLoMo? Didn’t think so. Turns out SXSW / Burning Man / Social Media Week / Internet Week / Your Favourite Whatever Thought Leadership Event Week aren’t incredibly good at predicting the future after all. This year we’ve decided to beat the end of year rush and get in early with something different.

This is not a trend report. This is an anti-trend report. This is your complimentary guide on how to avoid the glittering jewels of trends and stay focused on what matters – building you brand fame online. If you’ve been talked into these things in the past, we’re sorry. At least they’ll never happen again.

Trend no. 1: There has been an explosion in social channels, again.

Lesson: If they’re on Peach or Snapchat, they’re most likely on Facebook as well.

Trend no. 2: We gave up the gloss and let people in.

Lesson: Brands need to try to connect with people in a genuinely human way, but don’t act like your best mate. There’s no reason you can’t be real and act within your brand guidelines. Also, not every piece of comms needs to go through an 18 stage approval process, when even Kendal Jenner can go direct to her fans with a fuzzy Snapchat in the back of a car.

Trend no. 3: Facebook organic reach is dead and gone. Instagram is about to die.

Lesson: Facebook is a paid broadcast channel, but a very powerful. Most interestingly, the platform’s reach is growing beyond Facebook itself.

Trend no. 4: Brands emojied everything in sight. The ‘crying with laughter’ emoji was used 6.6 billion times on Twitter in 2015.

Lesson: It worked for some, for example the #ShareaCoke was shared 170,500 times in the first day. Yet not for others. Skip the bandwagon. Be authentic, know who your customers are.

Trend no. 5: The ad-block-alypse is coming. 20% of UK and 16% of US internet users block ads and 63% of millennials block ads. People hate being followed around the internet but they love content.

Lesson: Entertain, don’t advertise.

So, why are some brands winning and some aren’t? Brands that are winning online are consumer centric. Consumer centric brands prioritise the needs of their consumers ahead of their own. They add value, reach consumers where and how they want to be reached, they give more than they take and above all, they entertain over advertising.

Agencies must begin to understand the landscape and what digital offers their clients. The old answer to this conundrum was building branded communities, however branded communities never really existed. The new answer is to create a famous and glorious brand.

Famous brands sell more stuff. Those that you have heard of, or are familiar with get purchased more because they are safer and easier choices to make. Humans love choice, but hate decisions. Finding ‘the one you know’ on the shelf make your decisions easier when they most matter.

Glorious brands are more appealing. They’re more likeable, more understandable, more desirable to you personally. They’re aspirational and they share your values. They have your same sense of self. They outwardly perpetuate the same ideas about what is nice, good and sexy, quality as you do. Glorious brands sell more stuff because there is no point in being famous for the wrong reasons.

Dan Deeks-Osburn is strategy director and Michael Scantlebury is creative director at Impero.

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