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 Jennifer Greenjack.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to learn more about you. Can you tell us what brought you to this career path?
Like many who find their passion, I found my way into the marketing world in a very roundabout way. Though I graduated from Marketing Management, marketing was a very different—and not nearly as digital—world in the 1990’s. Post college, I started my career with retail management which led to a career in ‘traditional’ retail marketing. Think print, billboard, TV—you name it. As digital marketing evolved, I was super intrigued and evolved alongside it. Being on the cutting edge and exploring new opportunities has always excited me. And with digital, there is always something new emerging.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story on the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting?
Not sure it was the ‘funniest’ marketing mistake I have made, but it was and continues to be eye opening. Being a control freak, I always found it very hard to let go of responsibilities. Even in retail management, I found myself doing more than strictly managing. Delegation and trusting others to get it done right became vital for not overworking myself, and that can only happen if a person is trained correctly and given the best instruction to help them grow.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are?
There are a lot of people who have helped me along the way to where I am today—some good, some not so good. But each person who I have encountered has made an impact on my work ethics, my drive, the way I treat others, and so on. This starts with my parents of course and includes some teachers & professors as well as past ‘bosses’ and work colleagues.
If I had to choose one particular person, in my retail career, I had a store manager who taught me compassion and empathy. On the positive side, she led by example and always worked with us, side by side. Not just barking orders but rolling up her sleeves and getting dirty. On the negative side, she did not have a work-life balance and hence burned out over time. So in an odd way, she also taught me to step back when I needed to. Take time for myself and smell the roses. Find the balance and joy between work and life.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? What were the takeaways?
I think the tipping point in my career was an introduction to HubSpot. HubSpot was in its infancy as strictly an ‘inbound marketing platform’ when I first started working with it, and the knowledge of inbound marketing was not even around when I was in school, so I was learning. It was then that I kept my eyes peeled for more new & exciting tools, platforms and methodologies to market to potential customers.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Working at Creative MMS truly embraces the work-life balance methodology. Agency life is very fast paced as someone always needs something immediately, and it can be tough to say “Yes, but..” when you just want to say “Yes, no problem.” It requires finding that middle road so you can please the client and achieve high quality output, while not overwhelming your team to the point where their work is subpar and they’re not happy.
Are you working on any projects now? How do you think that will help people?
The most exciting project we are working on now is our new CoreResources tool. Content has become everything in marketing, and creating the right content is vital. However, there has never been an easy place to store and filter all the various types of content as a ‘blog’ will sometimes just not do. This is not only important so your website visitors can quickly and easily find what they are looking for, but also for the internal team to help them close sales.
As a CMO, you’re at the forefront of the marketing space and leading diverse teams. What resources or tools do you use to stay abreast of the changing landscape?
To stay abreast of the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing, I use a variety of tools: websites, blogs, social media (mainly LinkedIn), community groups, videos, books, podcasts, and more. Most importantly, I look to my team of experts and what they share. There is only so much one person can do in a day, but when you combine what others are looking at and sharing—via through a link, a one-on-one conversation, or the lunch-n-learns we hold monthly if not more often at Creative MMS—it allows me to deepen or broaden my knowledge of digital marketing and website design & development as a whole.
In your experience, is it possible to forecast upcoming trends? How does this process work? Please share a story.
Yes, it is possible to forecast upcoming trends, but you need to be open to failure. One quote that has always had an impact on my marketing career is from Thomas Edison: "I have not failed. I have found 10,000 ways that don't work." Now, I’m not saying that I want to have 10,000 failures, but marketing is a “try it and see what works” process. No matter how much research and due diligence you do, nothing is guaranteed. You need to execute based on the data and knowledge you have, and sometimes even go with your gut. But if you never try it, you will not know if it will work out for the best.
For me, my most recent and biggest ‘missed the boat’ opportunity has been TikTok. If someone asked me in 2019 if TikTok was going to be the next greatest social media platform, I would have told them no. However, I believe with the help of Covid and being isolated, this platform is not only for B2C but is emerging as a hot trend for B2B as well.
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?
Like most things, I would say it depends. As a marketing agency, you need to look at it from a lot of angles. Who is your target audience? Where are they searching for answers? Is your audience considered early adopters themselves? What are your competitors doing? And so many more questions. Of course, the availability of resources in budget, time, and people need to be greatly considered. It is important to use data to drive your decision on whether to adopt early or play the wait-and-see game.
What are some of the past trends that you embraced? What results did you see?
Working in marketing for over 20 years now, I have embraced nearly every trend out there. From billboard and newspaper ads to Spotify and bus wraps to paid advertising, SEO, video, email, and all things digital, each have had fantastic results and not-so-great results. The goal is to understand the end user, where they are looking for information, and what information they need.
Most importantly, you need to use a consistent, omni-channel approach. Some people like to read while others listen while commuting in their car. Some like face-to-face interactions where others prefer to watch a video. In addition, a message needs to be heard multiple times in multiple ways before a person is willing to take that next step—be it reaching out to talk with someone, making a purchase, whatever. Without sharing your message in a variety of channels and multiple times, you are likely to miss out on opportunities to close a sale.
Can you share a time when a strategy didn’t deliver the results you expected and what you learned from the experience?
Strategy is only as good as the data that drives it. Not having the right quantitative data—let’s say lack of Google Analytics—or by not getting well-rounded qualitative data—perhaps from all the stakeholders involved both internal and external—can lead to a half-baked strategy. Even with a well-baked strategy, not executing and keeping things moving forward on all parts of the strategic plan can have negative effects.
For example, let's say you launch an amazing paid advertising campaign with the right targeted audience, on the right channel, using all the best, most optimized keywords. Great, right? Now let’s say these ads all link to a website that is not secure, or slow, or doesn't tell your story, or exemplifies your brand. No matter how many users click the ad to your site, it's unlikely they will convert to a lead and have the opportunity to become a customer. Quite simply, the means must justify the ends.
What factors should leaders consider before jumping on a trend?
There are many factors that need to be considered before jumping on a trend. Some have already been mentioned such as your audience, your competitors, and your resources. In addition, you must think “What’s in this for me (or my client)?” How will this trend improve my overall presence, or help me reach my audience? Do I have the time, energy, expertise, and people to execute this trend the RIGHT way? If the answer to just one of these questions is “No”, the trend may not be the right fit for you, or it may just not be the right time.
To look at it from a different angle, if you don't try something, you'll never know what the end result will be. Consider testing the waters. See if it has any impact at all, and give it time overall to verify that impact. Set a goal for what you are looking for and the amount of time and effort you are willing to put into it. If it fails, you can say you tried. If it's even slightly successful, tweak it as needed, and nurture it along the way to see how far you can take it.
Let's get to the meat of it. What are the top five marketing trends you believe all leaders need to know?
1. Personalization with Audience Segmentation - this is not necessarily a new trend, but it is a trend that is becoming more and more important. Whether it be in emails, on a website or any other form of digital marketing, people want to feel like you are speaking directly to them—who they are, what they are concerned about, where they work, and more. They're no longer satisfied to be part of a larger group. For example, newsletters should be distributed to different segments, perhaps based on if they are a customer or simply a lead. Think about also creating newsletters specifically by industry, service or product they are already using, not using or perhaps interested in.
2. This leads me to Web 3.0 - According to a 2022 survey by Gartner, 63% of marketers struggle to offer personalized experiences. Web 3.0 helps with the collaboration between humans and machines. While the shift from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 could take 2+ more years, it will eventually provide a more customized, interactive user experience while giving more control over personal data and privacy. This will ultimately allow marketers to better understand demand and targeting and allow for tailored product offerings.
3. ChatGPT - This may or may not be music to a marketer’s ears, but in a nutshell, ChatGPT spits out content based on the very few details you feed it with. While not perfect, it helps get the content started which can save time for sure. It is still recommended that the person who is “writing” the content review what the bot provides and make revisions based on what’s needed.
4. Social Media - again, social media itself is not new. BUT there are new social media platforms emerging every month, if not every week or day. Keep in mind that not every social media platform is going to focus on your audience and you want to talk where people are listening and engaging. For example, BeReal allows you to snap a couple photos of whatever you happen to be doing at a random time per day. This could be the perfect way to connect with and attract new potential customers. There's also the Discord app, which allows you to create a community to connect with others of similar interest.
5. MarTech Platforms - one of the biggest issues we have been hearing more and more of lately is, “How do I prove ROI of the marketing we are doing?” Proving ROI is not new, but getting the right data can be a challenge. There are plenty of MarTech platforms to choose from, but you need to keep in mind that it is all based on the data being captured or entered in. We use HubSpot to prove leads, track closed deals, and more—I personally have been using the platform since 2012. Finding the right platform, keeping the data correct, and analyzing what is working and what is not working, will not only help to reduce costs but will also save your people and time resources as well!
You're 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!
I think the marketing movement that could bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people is building communities. Community is a growth marketing strategy focused on bringing customers together on a topic that aligns with your company in a personal, engaging, and non-salesy manner. It focuses on the customer vs your company, which can either be virtual or in-person. And being pent up for so long with the lack of in-person opportunities, people are social beings and are clamoring to get back into networking.
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