The world of digital marketing has changed a lot over the last 20 years, and it looks like it is going to keep on changing. It seems like there is always some new piece of technology to try out or forum to explore. So with all this “new,” how are you supposed to stay ahead of the marketing curve? What can you do to make sure you stay competitive? 

Well, we  have  little advice on that front…

Step 1: Be Flexible 

If you want to stay ahead of the curve, the first thing you have to do is get flexible. If you think you can get by doing things the way you always have, you’re wrong.  “That’s the way we’ve always done it” and  “It has always worked before” should be taboo.  If you want to get ahead in your industry, you have to be willing to bend with each and every new piece of information.

Now, I’m not telling you you should change your entire marketing strategy because some new social media platform is gaining popularity, but you need to be willing to try new things. Test new things out. Don’t become complacent with the comfortable, get excited about the new!  (don’t have the time to try new things, skip to the “Subscribe” heading)

 Step 2: Think, Think, Think

Every day, new apps, programs, platforms, and forums are created; so when a new product comes out, it can be easy to discount it as “just a passing trend.” But if you want to be ahead of the curve, you have to look at these new things as opportunities. I like to follow the line of thinking below to make sure I have explored a potential option thoroughly before discarding it.

1. How is the product meant to be used? How could I use it in this way for my business?

2. Does this product have alternative uses? Is there a different way I could use it for my business? 

3. Has it been used in this way before? Am I using it uniquely?

 For inspiration in this style of thinking check out these office hacks. You can see how  the steps above might lead to a new idea or a unique use. But let’s look at an example that might be a little more relevant to you.

Let’s say you are the marketing director for a small private college and you want to drive more traffic to your site to increase enrollment. You have heard that Instagram is a great way to engage your audience, but the college isn’t all that active on the app. Should you focus more time and energy towards this application?  Is it worth it? Ask yourself those questions I just mentioned:

1. How is the product meant to be used? How could I use it in this way for my business?

Most people use Instagram to give their followers updates of their lives through images. We could use it to give updates on the college’s “life”. We could take pictures of our classes, facilities, and campus events. This would help us showcase our fun campus culture.

2. Does this product have alternative uses? Is there a different way I could use it for my business?

We could use it to increase current student involvement. We could have a competition during a big campus event where students submit pictures and we upload the best ones to our Instagram account. This would let potential students see our college from a current student’s perspective. 

3. Has it been used in this way before? Am I using it uniquely?

It has probably been used in this way before, but not by our competitors. We are using it in a way that is unique to our school. 

Using this pattern of thought, you are able to identify a variety of ways you might use a new service, as well as whether or not you are using it in a  way that is going to help you differentiate your business. Make sure you think things through, approaching them from all angles before deciding something isn’t worth your time. 

Step 3: Subscribe

 At this point, you may be thinking: ‘I don’t have the time to try out  every new thing that comes along.’  I know, with everything else on your plate, you probably don’t have the ability to explore every little app or forum that pops up. But don’t worry, these next couple of steps are for you

Whether it be a Youtube channel, an email list, or a podcast, subscribe to thought leaders in your industry. Who seems to be ahead of the marketing curve already? No matter your industry I guarantee that someone out there is already finding a way to stay ahead of competitors. Find this company or person, follow them on social media, subscribe to their emails,  watch their videos, and pay attention to the moves they make.  This will help you become a fast follower, allowing you to gain the advantage of experience, without any of the risk. 

Step 4: Monitor Competitors 

The last thing you can do is really more of a way to not fall behind than to stay ahead, but I think it is worth mentioning. If you aren’t doing competitive espionage, start now. Visit your competitors’ websites and see if they are doing anything that you might be able to do as well. Take their ideas and build off of them; make them unique to your business. This will allow you to gain some insight into what you are doing well and what might need some work, allowing you to focus your resources where they are needed.  

The world of marketing is going to keep on  changing. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you need to embrace the change, try new things, and find what is right for you business. 

More leads. More Sales. More Results.