As we step back and reflect on 2017, we saw some epics fails in the marketing world. Pepsi took a hit this year and lost 3% of North American sales to Coca-Cola because they severely misunderstood their audience. United Airlines net income went down 34% in an attempt to beat competitors by being them and not differentiating themselves (plus their PR woes). Many smaller brands that thought they could “go viral” with social campaigns, just did not hit the mark. In a world of noise, unlimited choice for buyers and instantaneous competition, it’s a brave new world we live in.

“We didn’t do anything wrong but somehow we lost.”

This is a quote from the press conference that the former CEO of NOKIA gave in his goodbye speech when they were acquired by Microsoft. We hear this and “why isn’t what we are doing working?” a lot when speaking to business owners. There are so many companies today who claim they are doing nothing wrong and somehow losing to their competitors. The sad fact of the matter is that just continually doing what you have always done in sales and marketing is exactly why you will lose to your competition. The same old thing but more of it is not a recipe for success. In today’s digital economy, your marketing strategy has to constantly be changing, adapting and learning.

Lesson: You can only win if you evolve.

1. The same old thing but “online” is not a winning formula

Websites are no longer glorified online brochures. You need to constantly be changing and testing your website to reflect your buyer’s ever changing needs. Your marketing strategy begins with your content, your buyers and your value proposition. How are you presenting yourself online?  The real opportunity to beat your competition is by having a thoroughly defined value proposition and differentiation. Don’t try to be your competitors, instead leverage what makes you different and apply it to your website. Today your website is where your  prospects will get their first impression of you, so make sure it’s different and well defined. United Airlines was affected this year in net income when they attempted to match their competitors low airfare as opposed to creating a differentiation for themselves that would not only raise revenue but also increase their reputation with the public.

2. Adapt your sales process

Today, the sales process is no longer solely about sales people. Buyers are already 70% of the way through their buying process before they contact a salesperson so you need to start adapting your sales process to fit your buyers. Selling today means creating a relationship with that prospect through touch points online. By connecting with your buyer through emotional triggers as they identify their problem and move through the research phase, you can nurture your lead long before they even contact you. By creating thoughtful and quality content that your buyers can relate to you can push them through the sales funnel without having to pick up the phone. However don’t make the same mistake Pepsi did and hit the wrong emotional trigger.

3. Embrace digital transformation and learn some new tools

It is amazing to us how many people think they can still run their business on an Excel spreadsheet. Tools exist for a reason and it is time people started investing in them. Yes, purchasing the right tool is hard and often time consuming but once the process is over, online technology can make a world of difference. Marketing Automation is no longer a buzzword but a process we expect to see implemented in companies that are beating their competitors. By leveraging Marketing Automation tools such as HubSpot, your company can nurture leads and close deals faster- simple as that.

So, here is some advice from us to you that we hope you take into 2018: you have to continue changing and you have to continue learning. Your marketing strategy is not a static strategy but a constant evolution. If your competitors change faster than you, you are going to fall behind quickly, get lost in the shuffle and fail miserably. If there is anything we learned in 2017, it’s that competitors beat you, not because they are doing a better job but because you are doing a bad one. If you haven’t touched your website in the past year or figured out how to use content in the buyer journey, you might want to consider flying United and drinking Pepsi!

Get on board and ahead of your competitors in 2018 and sign up for a Digital Marketing Competitive Analysis that will analyze your website against your competitors and determine your best opportunities to stand out online.
Make 2018 the year you knock out the competition!