Are you a trendsetter?

By Jeffery Hoyle

Emphasis Marketing & Communications


What is a trend? According to Webster's, the word "trend" is defined as "veering in a new direction." That's not necessarily news; after all, we are all familiar with the term "trendsetter." But in advertising, being ahead of the trend is the goal with each and every new campaign we create. The ultimate goal in business is to create something new and innovative that will capture and hold the mind of your desired marketplace. The problem is, how do you come up with an innovative campaign that will help you achieve those goals?

It takes a certain amount of courage to even decide to advertise. Self promotion is a huge step in any aspect of your life, but when it comes to your business, the choice is simple. To stay competitive, you have to broaden your appeal. With that, it is also important to understand that when it comes to marketing your business, there is no place for modesty. If you don't toot your own horn, who will? I can answer that for you -- no one will! The whole idea behind advertising is to create a buzz that will inspire others to toot your horn for you.

But with the courage to advertise comes risk. You never know what the results are until the campaign has launched. Subsequently, you will never know what the results could be unless you advertise in the first place. That takes courage. This leads me back to the original topic of this article: trends. Rather than following a trend, creating one can be the key to your business success.

Let's take a look at the first example of successful marketing that is taught in marketing classes across the country. Coca Cola wasn't always the success it is today. When the soda giant debuted in 1885, it was met with lackluster reviews. After a few tweaks of the formula, it was introduced again, with similar results. Not until 1894 did the soda pop take its place at the top of the soft drink market. What led to its success? Simple; bottling the product. The public went wild, and the rest is history. Coca Cola started the trend of bottled soda, which we still enjoy to this day. Without this innovation, Coca Cola may have remained just a soda fountain option and not the juggernaut it is today.

Now, this example is a bit simplified, but the general concept is there. By being innovative and implementing something no one has done before, success is attainable. Once again, it is all about having the courage to take that chance.

Now, my next statement may raise the ire of some of you, so I apologize in advance. But let's face it, the financial services industry isn't the most "sexy" when it comes to advertising. There I said it, and deep down you know I'm right. Thumb through your favorite financial services magazine and take a look at some of the advertising. Lot's of imagery of cavorting retirees, kids learning to ride a bicycle or graduating from institutions of higher learning, images of rock formations and fabulous vacations on exotic islands. You get the idea -- predictable and safe (with SMA being the exception). Now don't get me wrong, in this economically challenging climate, safe, secure and predictable are what the consumer wants. And you can still give that to your clients, but do it with an edge.

Issue a call-to-action in your advertising. For example, challenge consumers to a reevaluation of their retirement planning efforts thus far. Advertise a series of upcoming seminars. Congratulate yourself on a recent designation or award you've received. In other words, try almost anything that will generate a buzz for you and your business.

As much of an expert you may be in the business, the marketing aspect may not be your forte. If this is the case, enlist the assistance of a marketing and PR expert. Whether you have a vision in mind or need help with the concept, they can always assist you with the development and implementation of your advertising campaign.

As we've said already, being a trendsetter takes courage. As you plan for the growth of your business in the coming year, plan on being the leader of the pack, instead of just a follower in the flock.