Let’s say you’re going on a trip. You don’t know much about the place you’re going, but you’re going to be there for some time. Do you:
- Spend some time researching the location, and then carefully plan out what to pack in advance?
- Wait until the morning of your flight and then just throw a bunch of stuff into a suitcase?
Not that there’s a right answer, but there’s definitely a wrong one. And when you wake up the next morning and it’s snowing and you realize you don’t have a coat and only brought one sock, you’ll probably figure out which one it is.
Believe it or not, clients tend to do something similar quite a lot. We call it “destination blindness.” It happens when they spend SO much time and effort working up to a launch or an event that they forget to even consider what happens afterwards.
It’s understandable. Because if you want to go to the moon, you have to spend a whole lot of time and effort into building a rocket. And it’s hard, because it actually IS rocket science. But you struggle and persevere and finally you can launch and actually land on the moon. Congratulations! Now what?
Perhaps you should have spent a little time considering how to get back. Oops.
This is why it’s important to engage your marketing agency as early as possible. To see beyond the destination, and to plan strategically for the long haul. Because marketing is a process. It needs time to work.
We call the early, beginning stages of marketing “upstream marketing.” And why not? Nothing really captures the spirit of marketing like a fresh mountain stream analogy.
Can’t you just smell the salmon as they toss themselves incessantly against the rocks, beating themselves half to death and trying not to get eaten by bears?
Well, perhaps not, but the truth is that upstream marketing is where the real magic happens. This is where consumer needs and trends are deeply analyzed. And this is where strategies are spawned and hatched to capitalize upon them for both the short and long terms. Eventually, your little campaigns will make their way downstream all the way to the broad waters of the open market. You need to make sure they’re ready when they get there.
What the hell are you even talking about? This isn’t a nature documentary.
Okay, okay. It’s easy to get carried away by the crisp, sparkling waters of a gentle mountain stream. Where fresh pine air and…and…
Let me take a deep breath and get back to the point of upstream marketing, which is to prepare for the future. Which is kind of hard to do because you don’t really know what it will hold. That’s basically the problem with the future. Always trying to be mysterious and inscrutable like a person on Tinder who is trying to hide their psychological problems.
How do we know the future isn’t gonna catfish us? No, I’m not gonna start talking about fish again. Instead, let’s talk about trends and longevity.
Trends and Longevity
Just because you can’t really know the future, it doesn’t mean you can’t tell where it’s headed. You can see the general direction that is unfolding. Just like a cool, crisp mountain stream, gracefully meandering through the pristine and untouched wilderness. Better stop myself there.
By analyzing trends in consumer and competitive behaviors, you can get a pretty good idea what the future might look like and plan accordingly.
What those trending behaviors are, of course, depends entirely upon your business and markets. For example, if you’re selling fishing poles, you’ll probably recognize that you tend to sell more in the spring and summer months, and business declines in the fall and winter. So, armed with this knowledge, you might want to heavy-up on your marketing during your busy months to earn more market share. Or, you might try to even out your sales cycle by pushing special sales and promotions during the off-seasons.
Of course, just because something is likely, it doesn’t mean it’s absolutely gonna happen. The future is a tricky sonofabitch. Trends can alter course, or fall off entirely. Global pandemics can occur. Even if you do your homework in the upstream, you still can’t just set it and forget it and then go on vacation. Maybe on a fishing trip to the mountains, where the sparkling streams flow fresh and cold…
You have to keep an eye on your Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs. These are the smoke alarms for your campaign. The canaries in your coal mine. If you’ve done your upstream diligence, you will know exactly what to watch for, and be ready to adjust as needed.
Being ready to adjust and evolve your campaign is how you keep it alive. Longevity depends upon change. Eventually, any campaign will start to lose effectiveness as time goes on and your audience gets used to seeing it. You have to grow and evolve it.
You have to keep it fresh as a mountain stream.
If you saw that coming, then you have successfully learned how to read a trend and tell the future. Well done, Nostradamus.
At DAMN GOOD we do this kind of stuff all the time, and we’re pretty, um… how should I put it… DAMN GOOD at it? Give us a shout and let’s talk about your KPIs and breathe the fresh, mountain air together.