12 Things we learned about marketing (and life) in 2018

What we learned about marketing in 2018

12 Things we learned about marketing (and life) in 2018

It’s that time of year (no, I’m not talking about holiday shopping). It’s the time of year to reflect on the last 12 months (and comment on how fast time flies), take note of key learnings and set goals for 2019. I’d love to hear your biggest takeaway from 2018—drop a comment below!

With that, I give you a mix of 12 personal and marketing things we learned in 2018:

1. Be patient.

It’s hard to wait.

Especially when you’ve invested hours and hours on a campaign only to launch a new website and have very few visits and zero form submissions on the first day. While I love seeing big engagement numbers on the first day, I also know patience (and watching numbers to see where campaign adjustments need to be made) is key.

Your blog post or video may not have a high number of visits or views yet, but if you’ve optimized it for search intent, you’ll see results in the long run. For example, some of our top visited blog posts of 2018 weren’t written in 2018: Tips to making product changes that keep consumers in mind (2017), A word about improving new product concepts with launch-worthy writing (2016) and Why do many new product concepts fail at the quantitative testing gate? (2015). Patience pays off.

2. Use automation wisely.

People expect answers and they want them now. But resources are limited, and you can’t be everywhere at all times. Enter the chat bot.

Developing a very simple, yet human script for common questions people may ask on your site can help provide them the answers they need. The alternative is they leave your site for another company with faster response times.

3. Make time for building relationships.

In September I had the blessing of meeting up with former colleagues and friends from the five years I spent working in UW Oshkosh’s University Marketing and Communications department. The day-of I felt like backing out—I had so much to do—but I didn’t, and I’m so glad. I got to see one of my friends just one month before she lost her battle with cancer. It was a special day indeed.

That old saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you make people feel” really rings true (in my personal life and in our marketing efforts). At Writing by Design, our president really leads by example: she’ll send a simple text, pick up the phone for a quick call to check-in, or think of someone when she reads an article and send them an email. It’s those little touches that help us stay top of mind for our clients, as well as make them feel like we really care (because we do!).

4. Experience matters.

And I’m not talking about the amount of experience in your field. When I say experience matters, I mean the experience you provide customers from the very first time they land on your website to the quick office visit to finally closing that deal (and the follow-up after). Customer experience is still the most effective form of marketing. After all, if you’re customers are happy (and especially if they’re not), they’ll tell people all about it.

5. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

This one goes back to a previous coworker, Deb, and the saying one of her interns coined that so perfectly reflects her spirit: “What would Deb do?” I still smile every time I see the bracelet one of my coworkers ordered (in bulk!) for her retirement party.

Deb was not afraid to speak her mind (always politely). She didn’t beat around the bush—she was willing to speak up and say things others may have shied away from. There was no guessing what Deb thought—we knew! It’s this level of straightforwardness and speaking up that I am going to push myself toward in 2019.

6. Do your homework.

While you wouldn’t just show up to the gym and start using random machines, you shouldn’t just print a brochure or slap up a poster. Research your tactics like you would your exercise plan: define goals and develop tactics to help you reach those goals.

7. Take time to center your thoughts.

In September, I had the pleasure of attending the Renew, Recharge, GROW! Retreat at the Perlstein Retreat Center (hosted by one of our clients!) with our president. We learned how to meditate, participated in intuitive painting, and took time to identify personal strengths and traits. We were reminded that knowing (and owning) our strengths can help us be better communicators, spouses and colleagues.

The retreat also taught us that, even if it’s only for 60 seconds, taking a deep breath and centering our thoughts will help us lead less-stressed lives and in turn, provide better service to our clients.

8. Get friendly with your sales team.

You can have the best marketing plan in the world, but it will still fall short if it isn’t supported by your sales efforts. It should be circular: marketing supports sales, which supports marketing, etc. Like this blog post so adequately put it, “Marketing got you into the playoffs, but it’s going to take sales to win the championship.”

9. Get to know your customers.

It’s the solid foundation your marketing efforts should be built on: who is your audience and what do they need from you? If you haven’t sent your customers a survey (satisfaction, product/service interest, etc.) recently, add it to your plans for 2019! And don’t forget to check your social and website analytics to see where people are spending time on your site—it could lead to insights about your customers you hadn’t considered.

10. Plan the work and work the plan.

When you have a big goal to hit or project deadline, it’s not enough to put the due date on your calendar and hope for the best. Outline all the steps needed to hit that goal, and then block time to hit these milestones, even if it’s just setting aside moments to think about your project. As you go along, don’t be afraid to update the plan based on how it’s performing (after all, it’s not etched in stone!).

11. Don’t let video scare you.

“Videos are SO expensive. It takes so much time to produce a video.”

While those things can be true, it’s not always the case. You can shoot and edit a video on your phone, with a point-and-shoot camera, with a professional-grade camera or even build one in PowerPoint, like we did for a client. Just know your audience and where your video will be used before you spend your entire budget on a Hollywood-quality video. Not sure where to start? Here are a few helpful video tips.

12. Do this more often.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t take as much time to reflect as I should, but it’s important to self-improvement and reaching your business goals. Thinking through what worked, what didn’t, and what you want to do better next time can set you on the right track for future success.

What did you learn in 2018? Share your best tips with us by commenting below.

Headshot of Kayde Kempen, SEO and communications specialist

Kayde Kempen joined the Writing by Design team in 2016 as a Communications and SEO Specialist and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She has written hundreds of blog posts and e-blasts, both for Writing by Design and its clients, is the lead content writer for Writing by Design’s website/SEO clients, and assists with press releases, concept writing, script writing and more. Prior to joining the Writing by Design team, she was an associate marketing manager at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh where she worked for five years and led nearly 90 website redesign projects, wrote for the University’s alumni magazine and news website, and wrote and managed a variety of print and digital marketing projects.