Future-proofing your marketing

I am sure that most commentators would agree that right now, Facebook has one or two issues! Couple these with the current focus on GDPR data privacy and, from a marketing perspective, we are definitely living in interesting times.

But where does this leave the future of marketing using platforms like Facebook?

Same Old – Same Old

Whilst some will be presenting these issues as creating a seismic shift in marketing, in reality, the situation is one we have seen before and the fact is that whilst media and methods may change, the fundamentals of marketing remain the same.

Let’s start with a definition of marketing:

“The science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit."

Dr Philip Kotler

This is an old definition that I learned during my MBA back in the 90’s, but one that is still totally relevant today.

In other words:

Marketing is constant, it just the ways it is implemented, and the tools at our disposal, that change.

20 years ago, marketing method & tools were very different to those we use today. My prediction is that in another 20 years this change will only accelerate. So how do we manage this change and prevent our marketing from becoming obsolete?

Focus on the core

A good marketing strategy has 3 key elements:

  1. Know your market and the value you add
  2. Create a clear brand/message to communicate this value
  3. Use the best tools at your disposal to deliver this message and engage with your market

In reality, it is point 3 that tends to be most affected by changes in technology. As long as you have a clear handle on points 1 & 2, adapting your communications to fit with the latest tools available should be fairly straightforward.

So what about Facebook

Facebook is (in marketing terms) a communication tool, pure & simple. Granted, over the last few years, it has been a very effective one for many businesses, but as trust and use of Facebook decline, (as currently seems to be the case), it is likely that its effectiveness as a marketing tool will also be impacted. As marketers, we need to be in a position to look for alternative ways to engage with our markets.

BSA’s philosophy is that web marketing has 2 core elements:

  1. Content creation & hosting
  2. Communication & promotion of that content and the message it conveys

The issues arise where you are relying on a tool like Facebook to deliver both of these aspects. Whilst it is great for communication and engagement, hosting all your marketing content on a platform like Facebook makes looking for an alternative a whole lot more difficult.

Future-proofing your marketing

In our experience, the key to future-proofing your marketing is to separate these two aspects and to ensure that you are 100% in control of your content and the way it is hosted.

Content Creation & Hosting

It is no secret, we love WordPress, and as a tool for hosting and managing website content, it takes some beating. One of the things we love most is its flexibility and the way that it is constantly adapting and being developed.

WordPress V1 was released in 2004 (we have been using it since 2008). Over the years, WordPress has changed out of all recognition, but this change has been an evolution. The content we added in 2008 is still there and active. By using a system like WordPress, your content is protected from the changes in fashion & technology in many ways. It is these changes and updates that may lead other tools (remember Friends Reunited, Geo-cities, Friendster or Myspace?) to become obsolete. Businesses relying on any of these for their marketing engagement faced a real challenge.

Communication & promotion

The downside of hosting all your content on your own website is that you have to get people to visit your site to view it. This is where a platform like Facebook seems to be a great option for hosting. Millions of people are on Facebook so if I host my content there, the people will see it! This is true, however:

  • What about the people who don’t use Facebook?
  • What happens when Facebook falls out of fashion?

Much better to use Facebook and other social media as communication tools to promote your own content hosted on your own platform/website.

Post content on Facebook, and it is on Facebook. Post it on your website and you can then easily promote this using whichever tools are currently most appropriate (email, social media, printed press… the list goes on). Using this scenario, when a tool falls out of favour and is replaced by a new one, switching to using the new tool is simple.

By separating the hosing & communication of content, you stay in control of your marketing

5 tips for future-proofing your marketing

To finish, here are my 5 tips for staying in control of your marketing.

  1. Know your market and the value you add
  2. Create a clear brand/message to communicate this value
  3. Host your content on a platform that you control, that presents your brand effectively
  4. Understand where your customers “hang out” and use the best tools available email, social media, etc to engage with them where they are
  5. Always be on the lookout for new communication tools, and be willing to use them as appropriate.