Just when a brand has been cruising along with a solid engagement strategy, it may be time to change it or at least gauge it’s effectiveness. Each new technology innovation that launches creates a domino effect with how customers think, what they want and what you, as a brand, need to do to accommodate. It’s a new era of disruption where you need to better predict the future of marketing and quickly adjust in a way that benefits your bottom line.According to the ANA Marketer’s Edge study there are five red flags for marketers to be aware of and address in order to survive. We thought five wasn’t enough, though, so we’ve taken the liberty of expanding the list to include additional red flags to watch out for.

Red flag #1: Trying to do everything. You cannot be everything to everyone, so stop. Focus your efforts on your most critical priorities or risk spreading yourself too thin. Striving to be great in fewer areas rather than be mediocre in everything.

Red flag #2:  Assuming you have the capabilities. If the nature of the industry is changing, so too must your capabilities. With new technologies and omnichannel experiences, don’t expect to be able to repurpose your existing resources. Look to invest in new partners and hire and train new talent to deal with these changes.

Red flag #3: Deprioritizing customer service. While you may talk-the-talk about how customer service is important, only 13% of leaders are very effective at it. The truth is that customer satisfaction is really the only thing that matters. It is the leading indicator of repeat business and gaining new customers. According to a survey by PH Media Group, 59% of people indicated that if their first call to a company’s customer service wasn’t handled properly they would never buy from that business.

Red flag #4: Disregarding data insights. Marketers may deem data insights as important but only 10% actually use them to make decisions. As Wired reports, “Sure, insights and observations that arise from data analysis are interesting and compelling, but they aren’t worth much unless they can be converted into some kind of business value.”

Red flag #5: Working at a steady pace. While it’s a good idea to take the time to strategize and plan accordingly, you don’t have the luxury of time like you used to. What once took Apple five years to create the iPhone, now has a new upgrade every year. Technology is advancing at an alarming rate and brands need to sprint just to keep up.

Red flag #6: Using new technology for the sake of using new technology. Just because there is a hot new toy on the market, doesn’t mean you should use it. New gadgets should be used as tools to execute a smart strategy. Make sure the new innovations, or even platforms like Snapchat or Periscope, make sense for your brand and your audience.

Red flag #7: Serving up the same ol’ content. With the advertising space becoming more and more cluttered with ads and vanilla content brands need to work even harder to get their content noticed. According to a study by McKinsey & Company, 84% of markets do not have a formal content strategy.

Red flag #8: Underestimating your customers. Customers are smarter than ever. Today, it’s harder to gain loyal customers because they have product information (and competitors) right at their fingertips. They are connected, empowered and their expectations are constantly evolving. Millennials will mature and become the most powerful subset of consumers, meaning new platforms, content and forms of engagement. Make sure your team is able to adapt quickly. Brands that don’t invest in new content will decline faster than ever before.

Red flag #9: Not understanding the new laws of security. Customers are putting their browsers and social media networks on lockdown to keep their information private and secure and with adblocking technologies it is making it even harder for brands to break through the online barrier. This is where engaging content and smart placements will really come into play.

Red flag #10: Thinking of mobile as an afterthought. Mobile is wanted and there is a high reward for it. As Greg Stuart, CEO of The Mobile Marketing Association reports, “mobile is seen as the greatest change in consumer behavior and marketing we’ll see in our generation”.  Smartphone ownership is now at 80% with the time people spent on mobile (51%) now higher than desktop (42%).

Red flag #11: Business as usual. You’ve been an expert now for years and really understand the media landscape and your category. Don’t become complacent with what you know. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Virtual Reality companies all came out with new tools the last few weeks. Are you up to speed? You have to schedule time or hire a resource to keep ahead of the inevitable shifts. There is always a competitor right on your tail. The marketplace is stiff with competition ready to win your customers over and leave you in the dust. And then they will laugh like Vincent Price at the end of the Thriller video.

Red flag #12: Not differentiating between a brand strategy and media strategy.
A good brand strategy crystallizes the promise your product or service fulfills. Your media strategy promotes that message. It’s amazing how many companies invest in media with having a weak brand strategy or none at all. They just keep pumping out different disparate initiatives with nothing working together. Yikes!

All of these flags are disrupting the ways that marketers have worked for years and causing a shift. While most brands understand that the pace of change is shifting, only 13% are taking action and achieving measurable impact. The time for transformation is now. So keep an eye on these red flags and prepare yourself to adapt. Of course, it helps to hire an agency that can evolve your message and keep your company nimble.

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