Use Caution With Internet Marketing Fads

Five years ago, nobody heard of influencer marketing. Today, you can’t stop hearing about it. Whether it’s content marketing, native advertising, voice search or something else, marketers are always chasing the latest fad — and unfortunately, you, the client, often get caught up in the frenzy.

Be careful of investing heavily in “hot” marketing techniques. Sometimes, the latest and greatest idea is a real winner. But more often, the hot stuff either fizzles without having much impact, or else grows less and less effective as more and more people jump on the bandwagon.

Influencer marketing seems to have fallen into the last category. This article ran on the front page of The Wall Street Journal on Oct. 21, 2019. The title: Advertisers Sour on Online Influencers.

The gist of the story is that influencer marketing is losing favor because there are no good metrics by which to judge success, and because of the extent to which “independent” influencers are accepting larger and larger fees for pushing out their “objective” tweets, videos, Instagram posts, etc. Potential customers have caught on to this, and thus they are not as likely to be swayed by an influencer’s recommendation. What started out as a good idea, cultivating grassroots support for consumer products, turned into a high-stakes poker game dominated by big celebrities, big brands and big budgets.

Can small and midsize companies benefit from an influencer marketing campaign? Maybe, but probably not. Over the last few years, more than a few companies wasted substantial sums of money on influencer marketing. They jumped in too quickly for the worst of reasons — everyone else was doing it.

Of course, it’s good to keep up with Internet marketing trends and to explore new areas of lead generation. Nevertheless, use caution:

  • Just because a big company is successful with a particular type of Internet marketing doesn’t mean you will be. Look for examples of success achieved by companies of a similar size and a similar lineup of products/services.
  • Be careful about diverting marketing resources from tried-and-true campaigns. If your lead generation numbers are stagnant, make sure you’ve considered all options to tweak or expand existing programs before shutting them down. You’d be surprised how often fairly minor changes to an SEO or PPC campaign can result in dynamic improvement.
  • Being an early adapter is great for the corporate ego, but not always great for the bottom line. Big companies with deep pockets can afford the luxury of getting out in front of a new trend, experimenting, refining and tweaking as they go. Smaller organizations must be more careful: Even if the latest trend turns out to be a winner five years down the road, can you afford to wait four years for your base of prospects to catch up with you? In the early days of blogging, a lot of small companies had blogs as good as any that have ever been created, and yet these blogs never drove revenue because their customers didn’t understand blogging and didn’t read blogs. When customers finally caught on, those companies had exhausted their blogging creativity — at the very time their more cautious competitors had initiated blogs of their own.

Timing is everything.

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