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 Marketing Trends That Leaders Need To Know.” As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Daniel Klein.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! To start, can you tell us a bit about what brought you to this specific career path?
In 2017, I was working at a pharmaceutical research company. In my off time, I was writing a book with a couple of people on process improvement, and at the end of the book we realized we had a graphic designer, we had a web developer, we had some editors, and content people, and we spun ourselves off into a marketing agency, and we started helping our friends grow and scale their businesses.
We had a whole bunch of friends that were getting started in that entrepreneurial journey, and we helped them get their footing. We've grown over time. We went from projects to subscription-based services, and we went from freelancers to contractors, to in-house W2 employees. We’ve been growing like a weed, and we've been adopting a whole bunch of strategies and frameworks for how we do marketing that I leveraged in the past.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a mistake you made when you were first starting?
Mistakes result in upset clients, so I've built this company in a way where we make as few mistakes as humanly possible. We've had some very interesting clients over the years, though, so a lesson learned is that we should audit our prospective clients to make sure that they're in the right place in their entrepreneurial journey before we take them on. Maybe 15, 20% of the time, people show up and just need a couple of helpful tips, tricks, and pointers. Then we send them in the right direction, but they don't need to hire anyone.
Early in the process, we would take those clients on with the idea that we could grow them. But sometimes there's just not a match. Sometimes they're just not where they need to be. So now we'll be able to identify those very early in the process on the sales side and just give them some helpful tips and tricks, a little bit of free consulting for about 30 minutes, an hour, and say, “Hey, when you're in a better place or you've made it a couple of extra steps, come let us know.”
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person you're grateful for?
There’s three people I have in mind. The first is Victor from Winning by Design, a company that does sales, consulting, and process development. From the sales aspect, he's an amazing person. If you haven't worked with Victor, you absolutely need to work with him. He fundamentally changed my life from the sales aspect.
The second person is Michael Low from Symbiotic Group, who wrote our business plan and all of our SOPs for Joseph Studios and the Deep Insight Program.
The third person is Liz Peterson, who has a consulting company called Ops Designed, which focuses on process and automation. You probably don't realize how many manual tasks you take on in a day. Liz can automate all those tasks for you. She and Victor are directly responsible with quadrupling the size of Joseph Studios. That process automation project was phenomenal, and now we're probably automating 50,000 tasks through the work that Liz did, saving us a ton of time.
Are you able to identify a 'tipping point' in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different?
The tipping point for me was realizing that I was successful just by doing this job and not quitting.
I think a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners and marketing execs think, “Oh, there's a peak to the mountain, there's some summit up there and it's going to be a better life.” That's just not how the world works. You’re successful every single day just by showing up and doing your best, and not quitting, that’s the definition of success.
What do you think makes your company stand out?
Deep Insight, which is our proprietary method for systematically and quickly understanding the psychological profiles involved, makes our client's businesses successful. There’ll be some ideal consumer personas or types of people that are more likely to convert and be good clients of our clients, and with Deep Insight, we have an orchestrated way to go find them on the internet and learn what they need to have said to them to convert them to customers. We're extremely good at that and that’s one of our standout components.
Are you working on any exciting projects now? Tell us about it!
Yes. They're all top secret though. What I can share about the projects that we're working on internally is that when a client comes to us, it's more likely than not that they struggle with not just marketing or public relations, and that's why they're coming to us.
They struggle with other aspects of their business, like product management or sales, payments or e-commerce management, and merchandising. My hope is that we become an ecosystem where entrepreneurs, business owners, executives, operational managers, and marketing and public relations executives can come to us and we can systematically learn all the deficiencies that their business has to scale, and then we take that work in-house.
As a CEO and Founder, you’re at the forefront of the marketing space and leading diverse teams. What resources or tools do you use to you stay abreast of the ever-changing landscape?
There's always a new tool, widget, or gadget, but doing the fundamentals well consistently over time is something that you should never, ever forget. There's always going to be a new shiny ball. I would discourage people from looking for the next shiny ball, and I would encourage everyone to do the basics very well consistently over time and be disciplined in that because too many people aren't disciplined and don't have any success, or they just flounder around in their careers and professional lives and personal lives because they're always chasing the next shiny thing when they should be focusing on a disciplined, fundamental approach.
In your experience, is it possible to forecast upcoming trends? How does this process work?
If you’re sitting on a surfboard in the ocean and you're looking for a wave, are you able to predict the waves that come your way? Kind of. Are you able to predict when there are going to be good amounts of waves and heights? Yes, but it depends on the current moon weather and other factors. You just have to sit out there and wait, and then you find a wave that works for you, and you can start to ride the trend.
It's more about putting yourself in a position where you're more likely to encounter those waves or trends than not. That goes down to risk management which I harp on. If you have a systematic process or an environment or a culture that exposes you to more opportunities than threats, then you're going to have more opportunities to hop on the latest trend early in the process and go from there.
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?
It depends on the business that you're representing. If you're a major brand and you're able to kind of hop on trends, that’s great. If you're weeks late to those trends, you're going to look stale.
Being true to who you are as a company culture is important. I would say that's 95% of what you should be focused on. Don't worry so much about hopping on early trends and always having to be the latest and greatest and fastest and whatever. People don't necessarily want to do business with someone who is constantly, constantly just hyping everything all the time. That can get annoying.
People want to do business with brands that have good products and brands that have reliable products and brands that will stand behind their products and brands that will ultimately support them when something breaks or goes wrong. We spend an inordinate amount of time at Joseph Studios humanizing the brands that come to our portfolio and making them human and not logos, because people don't want to do business with logos.
People want to do business with other humans. And from the marketing and PR aspect, having something that's eye-catching and attention-grabbing is important. However, having a brand that stands for integrity and quality is essential and even better. And again, 95 percent of the brands out there don't have that and need it.
What are some of the past trends that you embraced? What results did you see?
In 2020 when everyone was in lockdown, a lot of our B2B sales-focused clients were asking how they could replicate the success they had at in-person conferences online. We were able to help them out quite successfully from a webinar perspective. Every six weeks we would host a webinar for each of our clients. We were getting around 60 or 70 people attending and from signups and attendees, and out of those, our clients were getting about two dozen good sales leads. Their sales efforts were able to continue, and their partnership-building activities were able to continue through the lockdown stage of the pandemic.
Ultimately, this resulted in a smoother transition out of lockdown and more stability from a new business perspective and a sales perspective. It wasn’t so much of a one-and-done trend; however, it was our ability to find a solution to a problem
Can you share a time when a strategy didn’t deliver the results you expected and what you learned from the experience?
A lot of times clients will show up to our first call thinking they need something and they're hard set on wanting that service when they need something else. We've seen this on a handful of occasions over the years where a client shows up and we think they're in good shape after an initial quick audit. Come to find out, there are some deep-rooted leadership issues within the team, or there are some very deep-rooted product market gap issues, within their product line or a product, that ultimately result in them not being successful. That’s a hard lesson to learn when you're generating thousands and thousands and thousands of clicks for a client, but because they're charging four times the amount for a product and they're getting beaten out by competition, or they have internal issues, that the rest of the company suffers as a result.
The lesson learned is that you can have an amazing PR or marketing or advertising campaign going and if there are other major gaps in the client's leadership or sales team’s ability or the product itself, those efforts are for not. We've adapted over time so that there's a very robust audit for new clients so that when they join, there are these stop-gap measures in place to make sure that they get those problems fixed before we start sending them thousands of clicks and views.
What factors should leaders consider before jumping on a trend?
If a trend is not part of your universe, your brand's universe, or if it's something that exists outside of what people would consider within the scope of your brand, I would not do it. I would carefully consider as a leader before jumping on a trend, whether it meets my brand standards, whether it's within the brand's universe, and ultimately whether or not I can transform that trend into business opportunities that actually matter for my organization. If you're not able to check the box yes on all those questions, then it's not something that I would take on as a component of my marketing or public relations effort.
Based on your experience and success, what are the top five marketing trends leaders should know about in 2023?
1. The number one trend is going to be how to use artificial intelligence to make much more sound decisions. I want to preface that with, it feels a lot like 2017 and we're using the word “blockchain,” and everyone wants to be a part of the blockchain. Blockchain gets thrown around way too much, and it becomes overhyped and then it becomes pared, and then it's not a thing. The great thing about AI is it's an excellent way to remove biases from your decision-making process. AI can pull us out of that and help us make much more sound decisions. Imagine a world where, from an e-commerce perspective, you were able to input your business objectives, and then a systematic programmatic approach to decision-making.
2. The number two trend is multimedia posts. You’ll see companies are no longer doing as many static images as possible for their content. It's all multimedia… it's video, it's the recyclability of that video. And with that comes more video interviews, podcasts, webinars, and in-person events.
We aren't yet seeing that trend on LinkedIn, but we absolutely will in 2023. Give it six months.
3. Recyclability of content is number three. Taking a recorded Zoom interview with a client or partner and taking that recorded Zoom interview and turning it into a podcast, an audio clip, a little video feature, or a blog. Mixing them all together and recycling them in different ways for email.
For your sales team, the recyclability of content is going to be huge this year as well. The reason goes back to number two, multimedia is expensive. Multimedia is time-consuming, and you will be able to produce fewer pieces of content, although they will be fundamentally better. The result is you need to recycle that multimedia content more effectively because you're spending more on it and it's more time-consuming to create. If you created three content pieces a week instead of six or seven, but it was multimedia, you’d be in great shape, but in turn, you need to build recyclability into those multimedia content pieces so that you still get the same output as the six or seven prior.
4. Four is fewer, more focused posts and campaigns. It's probably going to be campaigns that are directed toward a specific outcome and less about just evergreen content and more geared towards specific campaigns with measurable objectives. As we know, last year was hard for the market and a lot of companies lost a lot of money, and a lot of people lost their jobs. As a result, marketing, PR and advertising budgets got slashed as a result, and now, department leaders are asking for a budget and leadership is then responding with, “Tell me what you need to drive this deliverable forward, this objective forward.” The answer is more targeted and focused campaigns, for less spend.
5. Number five is because there’s no broad market growth, as marketing leadership and as business owners, we need to be much more prepared to steal market share from our competition. Then we should be focused on broad market growth to enable our company's growth.
There are going to be fewer new ideas launched this year. There are going to be fewer cool, jazzy, new, hyped-up ideas. This year, we as business owners will have to focus on stealing market share from our competition and snuffing them out. To do that, we need to have excellent data-driven decision-making. We need to have excellent content, multimedia content, and recyclability in our content, and then we need to be focused on how we're going to drive our individualized campaigns forward to steal market share. Those are the five trends that I see happening in 2023 and that are presently happening.
Lastly, if you could inspire a movement that would bring a great amount of good to the most people, what would that be?
I’d want a movement where random people on the internet have less of a voice. I really think that we've constructed such a strange online experience where people who represent wildly small fractions of an overall population have no real value to add other than shock value or click-baiting or just trying to sow discontent within our society. An algorithm update that weeds those conversations out would be helpful to make social media less noisy overall and to push meaningful conversations to the forefront.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Check out our blog on our website! We practice what we preach, and we're focused on multimedia content that's interactive, data-driven, engaging, and recycled, across the digital landscape. Of course, feel free to reach out to me directly, and we can schedule a consultation if you'd like.
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