Monday, March 2, 2009

Look Back to Plan Ahead in Marketing

If everything old is new again, then the Internet Archive is a great resources for marketers. One of the collections highlighted at this link shows pages from web pioneers of the mid-1990s (Yahoo! for instance). It's more than a lesson in the evolution of web page design--it's a great way to think about how people's use of the web has changed, how expectations of functionality and formatting have changed, how we as users have grown accustomed to certain conventions. Logos, web sites, products, all blasts from the past may become inspirations for the future.

And that's why I think "old news" can be "new news" when viewed through the lens of situational analysis as you prepare a marketing plan:
  • Know the history of your brands; know what worked spectacularly well and what failed miserably. This gives you background about how your brand came to be what it is today and the trajectory it has followed. In the process, you could rediscover an insight that will help you market tomorrow.
  • Don't change for the sake of change. A wise boss once reminded me that marketers tire of campaigns and packaging far more quickly than our customers because we spend months planning, months executing, months evaluating. Who wouldn't be sick of seeing the same thing for so long? Resist the urge to tinker because you want a change. Your attitude may not be your market's attitude.
  • Look at what's happening beyond your brand and your industry. Browse today's web, browse yesterday's web, wander through stores and malls, read and listen widely. You never know when or where you'll get a germ of a great idea as you analyze the current situation.

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