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Marketing trends are always changing, and it's so important to stay relevant. What are the latest trends, and how does one stay abreast of them? Is it better to be an early adopter or to see which trends stick? To address these questions, we’re asking experienced CMOs and marketing executives to share their “Top 5 New Marketing Trends That Leaders Need To Know.” As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Aub Wallace

Aub Wallace

Aub Wallace

Aub is the cofounder and strategist behind Dandelion Branding, a marketing agency dedicated to elevating the impact of social & environmental impact businesses. When she isn’t working on a project, you can usually find her in the forest or giving congratulatory high fives to her plants for growing.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us what brought you to this career path?

There was no one thing that put me on this path. I wanted to be a writer, but I never thought about the value of going to school for a passion.

So I went to school for a career in criminal justice. There, I learned that while everyone has the same needs, we have systems in place that intentionally make it difficult for parts of our society to meet their needs while staying on the “right” side of the law. “Changing the system from the inside” is a sweet goal but I learned pretty quickly that it isn’t for me. I want to help people in underserved communities and I want to make an impact without also contributing to the problem.

Then I started working with people with autism, but again, I found myself working in a system that forces people to behave the way our society has deemed, “acceptable.” I realized that the only way for me to feel fulfilled was to do something I had passion for, so I quit my jobs (one with kids with autism and one as the co-founder of Ravishly.com) and started working for an herbal skin care company while I attended herb school.

Herb school brought me knowledge and a focus on being a planet stewardess. At the skin care company, I found that passion for writing coupled with the statistical analysis that I learned in my criminal justice education made me great at spotting trends and knowing how to capitalize on them with content.

And that’s kind of it.

It has been said that our mistakes can sometimes be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about a mistake you made when you were first starting?

Courtney and I didn’t completely define what we actually DO until several months into the business. We were building our second website, sitting next to each other, and we got completely overwhelmed by talking about ourselves.

We were too deep in it at that moment, and we just looked at each other and I said, “what do we even do?” We laughed until we cried. And then we cried until we laughed. And then we redefined our services.

It taught me to ask questions. Even if I think they’re stupid. Because it could lead to a really important growth moment in business!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

Oh my gosh. Aside from my business partner, Courtney (of course), I would honestly have to say my fiancé. I moved to the Netherlands to be with him and started Dandelion right afterwards. He has seen every up and down, been excited with me about new clients, and listens to me rant when things get frustrating. Tom is really the best.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? What are the takeaways?

Yep. The real tipping point came when we figured out how to sell ourselves in a way that we are okay with. I always say that I don’t take sales calls—that my clients come to me because they know that Dandelion is the sustainable marketing agency they want to work with.

The other piece is we niched down while we expanded our networks. We started contacting and getting to know a lot more people and it made a huge difference.

Biggest lesson: define what you do, prove you’re good at it, and talk to people!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We are dedicated to sustainability and advocacy in more ways than just working with brands that are focused on the transition to a sustainable future.

We have poured hundreds of hours into our podcast EnvironMental with Dandelion and we are heavily focused on balancing sustainable marketing techniques and accessibility with sales and user experience in our work.

Other agencies just aren’t focused on the full picture like that.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How will it help people?

We are always working on exciting new projects—we’re an agency that works with future thinkers!! I’m currently very excited about our new offer, “Swipe this Post,” which is where we are providing free sustainability-focuses social media posts and images! 

Let’s shift to talk about trends. At the forefront of the marketing space, what resources or tools do you use to you stay abreast of the ever-changing landscape?

My tech stack is ever-evolving but a few things have been steady over the past couple of years. Google suite tools, like analytics and search console, are very important data resources for me because they let me understand the trends on and to the website.

I also subscribe to A LOT of marketing-focused emails. I pay attention to everything from the technical side of Search Engine Journal to Later Media’s funny Instagram meme trends. I also talk with business owners and services providers around the world and listen to their experiences! 

In your experience, is it possible to forecast upcoming trends? How does this process work? Please share a story.

Yeah, it’s possible but you have to be looking pretty consistently. I look at data on a monthly basis for most of my clients—weekly for very high volume clients—and I can see what is trending upwards, make a hypothesis about how that should change our content or strategy, and then enact that change.

For example, I saw the social media reels trend coming a mile away. Like all agencies, as soon as they were announced we started talking to clients about using reels to their advantage. But unlike a lot of agencies, I did NOT tell them to go all in on reels-only micro-content.

I saw pretty quickly that reels are designed to keep people scrolling through IG and not send traffic to pages and websites—reach & followers go up but clicks and traffic typically don’t. I advised all of our clients to post reels in addition to their other content.

By watching the trends, I figured out that we can use reels to bring in fresh audiences, but our carousel posts and static offers are doing the work to drive website traffic FROM those fresh audiences.

In marketing, would you say it’s better to be an early adopter of trends or wait to see if they stick before allocating resources? What are the pros and cons?

This totally depends on the brand and the audiences. Most trends can be tried pretty cheaply in the beginning so allocating resources isn’t usually an issue if you’re just testing things out.

The most important thing is that if your audience expects you to jump on the trend—or if they’re REALLY into it, you gotta be there. Further, once you’ve tried it consistently for a month or two, did it move the needle? Is it a lift in work? 

What are some of the past trends that you embraced? What results did you see?

Honestly, Dandelion doesn’t work with trends in a typical way. We try out different types of content and take a look at new platforms and we keep an eye on the data. We set it down FAST when a trend doesn’t work. Our main goals are efficiency, consistency, and optimization. 

Can you share a time when a strategy didn’t deliver the results you expected and what you learned from the experience?

Yeah, we jumped on the e-course trend. You know what I’m talking about—when everyone was building 'how-to' courses during Covid time? 

We poured a lot of time and energy into putting our method out there, but truthfully, people don’t want the method. They want results.

What factors should leaders consider before jumping on a trend? Can you please explain what you mean?

  1. Your brand: does it make sense for your brand to jump on a trend? If not, don’t do it.
  2. Your audience: will your audience be there if you DO jump on the trend? If not, don’t do it.
  3. Your time: do you have time to do this trend consistently? If not, don’t do it.

We’d love for you to share your expert insight. What are the top five marketing trends leaders should know in 2023?

1 . Invest in SEO. The sooner your start, the sooner you rank. Search engine optimization brings in quality organic traffic to your site, which is vital for the growth of your business. Basic SEO principles aren’t hard, and they can make a huge difference. I made one change to the main keyword that a client was using on her website and 3xed her traffic.

2 . Optimize your website. Yes, your website is part of your marketing. Make it easy to use for your audiences. If people can’t use your site, they will leave. If it’s cumbersome, they will leave. If it loads too slowly, they will leave. Then it doesn’t matter how much marketing you do!

3 . Create a distinct brand voice. Your audience should be able to identify you by your copy. This is important because the world is trending towards AI content. A brand’s personality is what will keep them coming back.

4 . Speaking of AI - use it to write your content. Focus your energy on editing and making sure that your content is accurate and relevant for you and your audience. What I’m really saying is: invest in a good editor that understands your brand voice.

5 . Work on creating long term partnerships. Influencer marketing works best when they promote your brand over and over. It’s much easier to make a partnership once than to constantly be making new relationships. We had a client who has several long term relationships with his affiliates. Each one promoted his brand twice a year to their audience, and each promotion did better than the last!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring a great amount of good, what would it be? You never know what it can trigger!

Demanding the transition to regenerative agriculture. It improves our food nutrition and our soil, supports wildlife and insects, and it can help us stop the climate crisis.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Please connect with me on Linkedin.

Stephanie Hood
By Stephanie Hood

Stephanie Hood is an experienced marketing professional and Editor of The CMO. With nearly a decade spent as Marketing Manager at Discover Holidays and Executive Editor at VIVA Lifestyle & Travel, she built her career leading editorial and marketing teams and strategies that turn six-figure budgets into seven-figure profits. She now enjoys connecting with the world's top executives to learn their secrets to business success, and shares those insights right here with her community of like-minded professionals. Curious what she’s uncovered? Be sure to sign up for The CMO newsletter.