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It’s almost 2020: Is your marketing still relevant? Blog Feature

John Becker

Revenue and Features Editor, Co-host of Content Lab, 15+ Years of Writing and Teaching Experience

December 31st, 2019 min read

The cadence of the year gives us few chances to stop and catch our breath.

With the change of the calendar, though, reflection is inevitable — even professionally.

What’s working? What’s not? What are the newest trends? What are the tried and true principles that never go out of style?

With these questions in mind, it’s time to get excited about helping customers, sharing our expertise, and growing our businesses in 2020.

So, I sat down with Marcus Sheridan to ask his thoughts about marketing in the 12 months ahead.

What should businesses be doing in 2020?

Me: It’s the end of 2019 — what is your most important piece of advice you have for companies planning the year ahead?

Marcus: I think oftentimes when companies look ahead, especially within a department, they set too many goals, instead of just one or two really good goals.

In my opinion, instead of being a jack of all trades, try to be a master of one.

As you look ahead to 2020, you've got to pick a direction and really own that thing.  Do it well, and then add more to it. 

I would also say that, as we look to next year, you have to ask yourself, "What is the current relationship between our sales and marketing teams?"

Because still, even though it's 2020, there are way too many organizations in which the marketing department is treated as subordinate and doesn't truly have a seat at the table. 

Marketing departments are generally not heard the way they should be heard, and I would advocate for an overlap between sales and marketing.

There should be shared efforts, shared resources, and shared energy, and they need to be keenly aware of what's going on with each other. 

If those two departments are not set up to work well together, regardless of what you try to do next year, it's a good chance you're going to fall short, from a marketing perspective. 

Marcus: We should also continue to obsess over the questions, worries, fears, issues, and concerns that buyers are either asking a sales team, or searching online every day.

That's the truest compass that points where an industry is headed, and where a marketplace is headed. 

When I say 'obsessed' with, you can't take that word lightly. Marketers need to build their campaigns around those observations, around what they're seeing and hearing with the marketplace. 

If the marketplace isn't asking for it, if there's not a problem or a need, there's a very good chance that whatever it is, it's not going to resonate. It's not going to win. 

What should business stop doing in 2020

Me: What are some things that marketers should stop doing in 2020? What's become an outdated practice?

Marcus: I’ve got a few for you:

1. Companies should stop seeing marketing as a separate, unique entity from sales.

2. Marketers need to stop producing content that makes the business feel good, yet the buyer doesn't actually care about. That's the big litmus test for great content: Does the buyer appreciate it, do they care about it, does it turn on their light bulbs?

Your sales team should see a new piece of content and say, "Man, I'm so glad that we've written about this because I keep getting asked this same question by prospects."

But, if the sales team knows that a piece of content exists but never has any reason to integrate it into the sales process, well, then, there's a good chance that it's not very good.

2. Third (and I know this is easier said than done), marketers need to stop wearing so many hats — many of which they're wearing because of this lack of priorities.In other words, if you want to have a great content manager, their obsession needs to be producing written content, and not going to your next industry event and working the booth. That is a total waste of their time. They should not be writing up another cheesy sales tri-fold for some event that nobody's going to pay attention to. They need to have a clear focus. This is so common simply because marketing departments are often under-resourced. 

4. Lastly, marketers need to stop going to marketing events by themselves, and they need to start going with leadership and sales team members.

Organizing your team and staying relevant in 2020

Me: How can companies best organize their talent in 2020?

Marcus: Marketing has to have a clear seat at the leadership table. That's first. 

Second, if there's ever a sales training or meeting, at least one marketer should be attending within the organization. 

Third, if marketing is producing any editorial content, or if they're planning their content, they should engage sales in that process as well, so as to make sure that they see value in it too.

Lastly, if you’re a company that does more than a few million dollars each year in revenue, you need to have a full-time content writer. You also need to have a full-time videographer; both more important than ever. 

You're not going to reach your potential in terms of establishing your digital footprint until you have those two people.

Me: Finally, Marcus, how do you recommend companies stay relevant with their marketing?

Marcus: When you're obsessed with the buyer and what they're thinking, feeling, fearing, asking, searching, they naturally show you the direction that you need to go. They indicate to you if your content isn't resonating the right way. 

Marketers should definitely be always paying attention to what content they produced this year that moved the needle.

For the content that is truly evergreen — the pieces that seem to stand out and are working well for you three, four, five, six years later — you have to ask yourself if you need to go in and update.

Should you add a video? Do statistics or prices need to be updated? You can update and republish something while still keeping the original URL that’s ranking highly. 

Additionally, one crucial way to stay relevant is the sales teams should have some type of digital sales training every single year, preferably hands-on workshop training. If they don't (and many don’t), technology continues to pass them by. 

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