I’m sick of predictions!
I’ve seen hundreds (literally) of blog posts and reports in the last few weeks trumpeting predictions for digital marketing, men’s fashion, technology, retail, interior design…
And yet, despite their different sources and content, they are strangely bland and uninteresting.
For example, a quick Google search for ‘digital marketing predictions’ throws up pages of forecasts
Sure, the number of predictions and the wording changes slightly…
“7 trends to tackle”…. “3 trends to watch”…. “7 online marketing trend that will dominate…”
Ultimately, however, they’re the same.
Now I’ve no problem at all with predictions.
It’s a given that we should keep looking forward to innovations in small business, communications technology, product trends and online opportunities…
(In fact one of the exciting new business ventures I am involved with is focused on identifying global technology trends for Hedge Funds and Market Analysts with my futurologist father-in-law! More on that another time.).
But the endless list of samey prediction articles illuminates one of the biggest gripes I’ve got with a lot of the business advice you’re being offered right now.
The people you’re supposed to be following are doing it wrong.
My point is this…
How is a post titled ‘7 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2016’ supposed to stand out?
How is it unique, human, individual?
How is going to be heard over the cacophonous roar of internet information?
What difference does it make?
How can it be that the very people you’re getting expert advice from about making your business stand out aren’t talking the walk?
Why are they using clichés instead of trying to cut through the noise and become distinctive?
Why are prediction articles so… predictable?
There’s no point in making a predictions article if nobody’s going to distinguish it from the other articles doing the same.
So ultimately it will do nothing to draw traffic, grab attention and then turn that attention into subscribers or sales.
Look at it this way…
Every time you share an article, send an email to your database, or post a blog… it’s an opportunity to surprise and delight potential customers, reminding them of who you are and why they should bother with you.
It could even be your last chance!
Each time you publish online, you want it to catch attention, get spread around the forums and networks, draw new people in and guide them towards your products and services.
Otherwise, really… what’s the point?
In my view, you should treat every piece of communication like it was your last, and make it count.
I don’t imagine you have hours to spare publishing and sharing content that does absolutely no good for your bottom line.
Nobody really wants more noise and clutter.
Nobody wants to click on a link only to read some information that they’ve already read somewhere else in a slightly different format.
Every time you fall into the same old format you waste an opportunity.
This is why the increasing homogeneity of online content is disturbing.
Take the areas I know best – small business and start up marketing advice.
Whenever a bandwagon comes along, everybody crowds on.
Someone comes up with ‘22 Facebook Ad Design Mistakes’ and so follows a whole bunch of Facebook Ad Design Mistakes blogs posts with slightly different numbering.
Every New Year, more and more marketers decide to do their “7 predictions’ blog posts, thinking that because everyone else is doing it, then it must work.
In fact, I’ll make a prediction that you’ve not seen.
…and this might either horrify you or delight you…
You’ll be invisible if you follow the crowd
No matter how much money you throw at advertising or website design, if your content is similar to others in your industry or sector, then you will start to fade, lose definition and ultimately pop out of existence.
Of course you will still exist – but as far as your prospects and customers are concerned you will be, essentially, invisible.
Just because you’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram won’t make a difference.
Your WordPress site with keywords and backlinks wont make you somehow special.
Pretty much everyone now knows about, and can access, these tools now.
You’re just one of hundreds of individuals, businesses, and organisations online that are blogging, tweeting, posting and sharing information.
So what’s going to make you different?
What will raise you above the competition, attract new customers, (and keep them coming back) make your business memorable, talked about, shared and recommended?
In 2016 you need to STAND OUT, say something different, and connect with potential customers in a way that’s more powerful, unique and personal than any of your rivals.
How are you going to achieve this?
Well, here are some ways you could do it.
- Be controversial – go totally against what all the other bloggers, tweeters and commentators are saying and dare to challenge the mainstream view. In the same way as that I’ve challenged the avalanche of ‘prediction’ articles, what clichéd or lazy thinking can you spot in your field of interest.
- Shock people with your headline – instead of parroting the messages of everyone else in your industry at this time of year, go with the OPPOSITE message, or express the same message in a startling, unexpected way. If everyone is saying “Get fit in the New Year”, why not declare “Why January is the worst time to get fit”?
- Express strong opinions – attack a common enemy or criticize an establishment, organization or misconception. Whenever you see articles, blogs and news items that espouse the views of the common enemy, challenge it and inviting others to do the same. Make sure you add your opinion. This will make you a leading voice, not just a spectator.
- Turn your emotions up to 11! Talk about a passion you have for your industry, your interests or your belief in a cause. Don’t be afraid to express how you feel and allow those motions to be seen, read and heard. They’re infectious and will make you more human.
- Create a manifesto. Make it clear what you stand for. Think about how you and your business aims to change the world for the better. Write down your business’s founding principles, aims and goals and post it on your site, share it on social media and ask people to comment and share.
- Make up a new word, slogan or term for something in your industry. Then come up with a hashtag for it. For instance, a sustainable fish restaurant might come up with #FishAreFriends or #SaveOurSeas. A dog care website might come up with a campaign for people to walk their pets more while getting fit and call it #Petsercise. Or be controversial and come up with something less usual like #BanNewYear or #FatJanuary. Add the hashtag to your social media post so that you build its profile.
The only rule is that you should ignore the rules.
Step out of the mainstream and dare to say something different.
Let’s make you stand out in 2016.