“But everyone else is doing it!”

We’ve all heard or even personally thought this phrase before. Sometimes in business following the crowd is a good idea because the choices are based on forward thinking trends. Other times, it can be dangerous to blindly follow the example of other brands, especially knowing some marketing trends have a limited shelf life.

Example A:
“Other companies in my industry are creating mobile apps to enhance the customer experience. Maybe we should consider doing something similar.”

Example B:
“Several companies have posted branded content or graphics to acknowledge a tragic event such as 9-11. Should our business do the same?”

As you can see, following trends can go either way. It’s important to recognize the difference between a positive trend and one that is going to turn your company into a lemming. It can be difficult to keep up in today’s fast-paced world, where cultural norms and technology seem to be changing at the blink of an eye. Companies always tend to flock towards “the next big thing” to varying levels of success.

When faced with a marketing or design choice, how do you decide if it’s best to follow the crowd or pull away from the pack?  Let’s take a closer look at several trends.

Goodbye drop down menus

You’ve probably noticed the disappearance of drop down menus. This is largely the result of the increased use of mobile devices. Sites can no longer be considered successful if they aren’t mobile friendly and intuitive, and drop down menus aren’t the most effective way to navigate in the mobile world.

In this instance following the minimalist movement can really pay off because it’s a matter of functionality and not just aesthetics. If some simple reorganization on your site can greatly increase usability, that’s a positive change and worth looking into.

Maybe email newsletters

An example of a marketing trend that has become extremely common across all industries is the email newsletter. If you have an active personal email address (and who doesn’t?) you’re probably already subscribed to many email newsletters from various industries.

Companies use email to promote their products and drive traffic to their sites, but this doesn’t necessarily mean this particular tool is right for every business. Just because it seems like everyone is sending out a daily, weekly or monthly newsletter these days doesn’t mean it will be beneficial for your company. Like all business strategies, if you’re going to do it, make sure you do it right.

It’s important to consider whether sending newsletters is a good use of valuable time. Ask yourself if you or your employees can either come up with quality content on a regular basis or hire someone else to help. The point of an email newsletter is to provide valuable information to current and potential customers, and if you aren’t able to spend the time and come up with interesting or useful content there are probably better ways to use your company’s resources.

Start with a plan before following a marketing trend

It can be really tempting to just blindly follow the example of other successful companies, no brand wants to be thought of as “behind the times,” but you should always think through any major shifts in marketing strategy before implementing them. A well thought out plan, tailored to your audience is always going to be a better idea than a trendy plan that may alienate or confuse customers.

Strategic Plan