As we head into the new year, many are using this moment to tout trends, tools, channels, tactics and predictions for engaging with consumers and driving growth. While important, the fight for attention is as daunting as ever. According to the American Marketing Association, studies show that the average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages a day.

Yes, the marketplace is a cluttered space. Consumers have more choices than ever. Rather than jumping on the hamster wheel, I believe the key to marketing success in 2018 lies in mastering three core areas.

  1. Know your origin story. Want to stand out? Know who you are. Know what makes you different. And keep it simple – you should be able to say it in 10 seconds or less. Having a compelling brand narrative – the overarching “story that feeds all stories” across all outlets and audiences – will link together the myriad facts and proof points in a way that brings it to life.
  2. Have a real-time response strategy. With social media fueling a 24-hour news cycle, brands are capitalizing on moments in time to find the right moment to insert themselves into real-time trends and conversations. Patagonia’s recent stance on the reduction of national monument lands was certainly not spontaneous, but planned. As The Atlantic stated in its analysis of the move, “First, choosing a side on a controversial political issue can be a great (but risky) way to get good PR. And second, not choosing a side is still a choice, and one that consumers may judge brands harshly for.” In 2018, brands should be looking for ways (political or not) to engage in the moment – or create a new moment – for real-time marketing opportunities that are aligned, on-brand, and pay off on a clear objective.
  3. Seek a return on purpose. This is where economics meets emotion, and it’s critical to business growth, whether through reputation enhancement or competitive advantage. Whether you attribute it to the current political climate or other more complex social forces, corporate social responsibility is more important than ever. From a marketing perspective, as my colleague Jason Stemm wrote recently in his post The Future of Grocery Retail, “meaningful connections with consumers will be needed for brands and retailers to gain loyalty.” Finding effective ways to communicate this purpose – and make sure it “sticks” with consumers – will drive brand success in 2018.
To thine own brand be true. Recognize your core brand principles and their importance to your most passionate customers.Click To Tweet

Most importantly, to thine own brand be true. Recognize your core brand principles and their importance to your most passionate customers. That’s what all this talk of “authenticity” is about. Keep it simple. Do less and do it better. And focus on what matters – driving lasting value – to position your brand for a successful 2018.