2019 - What we're looking out for (MARKETING TRENDS)

This is what we’re thinking about this year. Some are trends, some are things we’re looking forward to. They apply to most in general, but don’t apply to everybody (interpret as you will). Take it with a grain of salt (please).


The Digital Pull Back

Time To Unplug

We’re about to hit the plateau of digital connection - the point where too much is too much. If you haven’t already noticed, there’s been a growth of meditation apps, screen time reminders and wi-fi on planes. It’s all because we are TOO connected - and it’s a terrible thing. As more and more moments are missed while we second-screen, we’re about to hit the point where people will realise that there’s a whole world away from the digital that they’re missing out on. It’s reached the point where all the digital gadgets are probably doing more harm than good. And we’re going to start making a conscious effort to pull turn our devices off (or at least face them down more).

The good brands will start to emphasise more on experiences away from digital. More memories away from the computer please.

Social Is Not The Answer

When social media started to become popular, it was the answer to everything - it had huge audiences, huge reach/impressions and huge conversions. But as the market became increasingly saturated, all the platforms have had to find ways (algorithms) to scale back content (so you' don’t feel overly spammed). For a time everything you threw on social worked, and you couldn’t get away without doing something on social. But that time is now over.

Nowadays we don’t even recommend our clients to spend energy on social. They don’t have enough resources to run it properly (either people to manage daily, or the money to get an agency to run it) and they’re not going to get any business/revenue from it.

Social still works when you’re able to put resources into it, but when you can’t (and especially if you’re a brand new company), it’s going to do very little. Don’t bother with it, spend the time and money somewhere else.

Social is still important (I’m not saying it doesn’t have it’s value), but the emphasis to post daily is going to go away (along with it being the starting point of all marketing plans).

Creepy Ad Buys And Gamification Are Both Bad (duh.)

Social ads worked great for a while since they were cheap and there were hardly any brands on them. That ship has also sailed (see above).

What most consumers don’t realise though, is that social ad buys is only a small part of what marketers call ‘a Funnel’. For years marketers have been pushing consumers down a path and playing a numbers game. It works great, but too many companies are doing the same thing now, and consumers are treated like dummies (never a good thing).

If you’ve ever entered your email, and then gotten a discount code 48 hours later, or visited a website, and started seeing ads pop up - that’s all the gamification that brands are doing. Unfortunately, they were so good at it that it became a little creepy (is Facebook listening in on our conversations?). (Gamification is just a newer/fancier term to make it all more distant and impersonal).

The good brands are going to treat customers like customers. They’ll understand that they need to build rabid fans or tribes and that will lear to longer term success (instead of playing psychological tricks).

An Audience Engaged

1,000 Fans Is A Lot

The smarter brands and marketers already realise that follower numbers is just that - a follower number. It doesn’t mean anything except that a specific number of people have pressed ‘follow’. A high follower number might mean you make more money, but it doesn’t guarantee it (causation and correlation are not the same).

1,000 people is a lot more than you think it is (think about the biggest wedding you’ve been to, likely there were less than 1,000 people). If you have 1,000 people who truly care about your brand and would buy something you produce - congratulations, you have a business! Even 500 people is a lot - it’s hard to find a room that can fit that many people, and all that are willing to listen to you.

Smaller audiences, but more engaged audiences - that is the key. Big numbers are important if you have a subpar product and you’re playing a game of percentages. If you have a solid products worth buying, a small audience is all you need.

(Obviously, it’s not the end of the world if you have millions of followers. The point here is that you don’t need as many as you think you do to be in business. Don’t fret over the number, care about the engagement and community.)

Small And Proud

Companies often brag about being small and nimble (“we’re very entrepreneurial”). But for some reason, they like to pretend to be a big corporation in front of customers (“we ship worldwide”, “we have a massive customer support team”) when really it’s the same one or two founders doing all the work. They want to appear large and capable, but what’s the point really?

If a customer likes what you do and is willing to put down their credit card details - was it because they liked your product, or the fact that a nameless minimum-wage worker is packing up the box and sending it out? If you’re already on AirBnB, are you going to cancel the booking because you realise that it’s not a hotel chain you’re booking into? There’s a place for small companies (sometimes even on a large scale).

If you’re small, you should own it. There’s nothing wrong with running a two-person shop. As long as you do good work and people like what you do, that’s all that matters. The emphasis on numbers is time an energy you could be spending on improving your product.

Prioritise The Customer, The Product & The Experience (Not Growth)

Goals can be great, but when not properly planned, can be detrimental to a company. For example, if a company is set on increasing revenue by 15% in the next quarter, they may turn a blind eye on certain things (e.g. making it harder to issue refunds, cutting corners in manufacturing, etc) - happens more often than companies want to admit.

Unfortunately many people need to answer to investors or management and this is where the goals come from. Usually these goals are all about growth (“if you’re not moving forwards, you’re moving backwards”) - this mindset needs to change.

Instead, focus on making the best possible experience for your customers - whether that’s giving more support before/after the purchase, making improvements to the product or improving the overall experience of using it. Growth numbers are arbitrary. Having a good business model and staying in business because you have a good product is a lot more meaningful and a better goal to work towards.

Isn’t staying in business rather than sacrificing for the short term better anyway?

Slow It All The Way Down

Slow Down, Next Day Delivery Is Unnecessary

What’s the difference between answering an email at 10pm at night, compared to 9am in the next morning? Will anything change? If it does, was it worth it? If it doesn’t change anything, what was the point?

There’s been a surge in popularity for ‘the hustle’ - but it’s not the only way to success (it may just be a recipe for eventual burnout). Immediate sounds great, it can potentially give the impression that you care, but when the advantages are minimal, the damages may be greater than the risk of answering a few hours later.

If you can get away with achieving 98% of the same results on 75% of the work - isn’t that a deal worth taking? It’s important to take a step back and really assess what matters and what doesn’t. Unless your ONLY USP is immediate response, chances are it doesn’t matter that much (think delivering groceries and not a locksmith or a plumber where time is of essence).

(Amazon Prime is amazing. But it’s more a tool to get you to sign up and grow as well as force out the competition - think about the long term play here, they have a lot of money to win in the long run).

Don’t Always Follow The ‘Success’ Script

One person’s success is not the road map for everyone. Sure it works for some people, but it’s rarely the case that it works out for even half of the population. So why do we think companies all have to follow the same path?

Investments, IPOs might make sense for some companies, but so does growing slowly for other companies. We read about case-studies and success stories, and we’re seduced by the massive exits - but with every success, there are hundreds of other companies that try the same thing and fail.

In the same vein, social media works for some companies, but radio and traditional advertising might work for others. There’s no script when you’re attempting something new, and smart companies realise this. Unfortunately for smaller companies, who don’t have teams of people helping shape strategy, their mission is to copy (and ultimately fail or at the very least waste a lot of resources).

You can be successful without launching a kickstarter or getting money from Dragon’s Den/Shark Tank. You can be successful without millions in venture money. You can be successful just doing things your way.

There is no one way. Don’t kill yourself trying to be like others.

Value Above All Else

In a world where everyone is competing over price, the expensive is going to win out.

Cheap is great, but you will always have someone undercutting you (someone always wants it more no matter the cost). Expensive isn’t for everyone, but that doesn’t matter.

When we look at the agency model in particular, we can charge based on our time, or we can change based on the value we’re providing (we’re going to choose value every time). Time is just an indication of whether an agency can take on work or not, it should never be a negotiating tool to lower cost (hello customers!).

Imagine quoting a strategy project for $10,000 and the customer asks how many hours it will take. Does this mean they’ll give you more money if you work more than you quoted? What if you do it in less time, are you supposed to give money back? Why should agencies be penalised for being efficient? Shouldn’t they get more money for doing the work faster, and allowing the customer to focus their energy on other areas of their business?

Imagine if Apple charged their MacBooks based on the hours it took to assemble and the total raw material costs. Crazy.

Good brands will understand value is what matters. If things are done properly, it doesn’t matter if it takes a little longer or costs a little more (better than doing something twice).

Weekly Updates - My Time Is Worth X

Things we’re thinking about this week.


How do we figure out how much a project is worth? Typically it’s based on the number of hours we think a project is going to take - a project that takes 3 months to complete is going to cost a lot more than a project that takes 3 days to complete. But is that right?

As a freelancer, it makes sense to segment by time - there are only so many hours within the day, and you need to make sure that you actually have enough time to complete your work. But at the end of the day, are you selling your time? Or are you creating something of value?

If something is valuable, does it matter how much time it takes to create it?

If you can create something quickly, does it lower the value? If it takes longer than anticipated, should you be charging more money?

The other reason we think putting time against cost is because many clients ask for it - they want a break down and potentially see if there are things that can be cut. But again, that’s a little silly. If I can create something in 3 days, that means you’re not spending 3 weeks going back and forth (a couple hours a week) with someone who’s taking longer to get to the same conclusion.

Value is a funny thing. We all want to save money, but often saving money is the wrong way to go. On the business side, being a boss means making the hard decisions - balancing cost/risk/value. If you’re only even going for the cheapest option, you’re not making a hard decision, you’re just playing a numbers game. CFOs and CEOs make decisions very differently, and there’s a reason we place value more on one than the other.

Weekly Updates - We Don't Want Your Business!

Things we’re thinking about this week:


It has come to my attention that we don’t want to be in the same race as everybody else. Sure we have a business, and sure it’s important that we make enough money to pay salaries - but that’s about it. We DON’T have to keep growing our team and scale, we DON’T have to keep getting new business and we DON’T have to be exponential revenue growth year-on-year.

Yes, it’s good to keep growing, but it brings on a lot of other headaches. A lot of unnecessary stress.

So, what if we only worked on things we wanted to work on? What if we only worked with clients who we weren’t assholes? What if we only did work that we were proud of?

If we take money out of the equation (and this is a common question we ask people, but not businesses), what would we be doing? We’ve decided to do that.

This doesn’t mean that we won’t pursue more attractive clients - we will, but only ones who we REALLY want to work with. In fact, the time not spent on constant business development will be concentrated on doing that instead. New client every month? What about we just worked on a new client every 6 months?

We’re going to work on things we want to be doing. We might make less money in the long term - but even that might not necessarily be true. One thing is for sure though, we’ll be a lot happier along the way.


Weekly Updates

Things we’re thinking about this week:


It’s that time of year again - time for reflection.

While most people are thinking about Christmas (and why wouldn’t they), many will also be reflecting on what they accomplished in 2018 - new business? New challenges? Ever-changing hurdles? And most importantly, how all this will change the approach in 2019.

2018 went by in a flash. We did things we never thought we would do, and we put important things to the side to pursue other goals. Whether it was chasing new clients, new leads or personal development - the battle was always the same and it was never easy.

2019 brings along with it a new set of challenges.

  • The digital landscape is going to change in 2019. The consumption behaviours are going to move even more towards mobile (and with that new iPad Pro making such a significant jump, I believe that it’s going to finally dramatically shift people even further away from desktops).

  • Data is going to play a smaller role as the world branches out and finds it’s own niches. While data is still important, the ‘global truths’ and industry standards are going to become less and less relevant as brands are going to be forced to take a hard look at what REALLY matters to their audience.

  • Hiring is going to be more and more difficult as the desirable workforce begins to realise that they’re actually in demand. Security is one thing, but the hustle is what’s going to make the real superstars stand out. A bear market might just give it the nudge that it needs.

2019 will be interesting. A lot of things that people have been calling for will finally happen (at least I believe so).

Weekly Updates

Things we’re thinking about this week:


Some things matter more than other things - it could be priorities it could be integrity. The idea that everything matters is a little crazy. There’s no way that all the focus and attention could be directed into everything.

How can a company care about the community, the experience, the growth and making money? You can’t possibly do it all at the same time and it’s silly to think that you can. You can concentrate on one or two things, and beyond that, it’s just nice to have.

Trying to do too much, is as we all know, a fool’s game. Ultimately you end up doing nothing and pleasing nobody. It doesn’t mean that you don’t care about the other things, it means that you know what direction you want to go and that you have a plan on how you’re going to get there.

Things (done well) take time, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Thinking that you’ll change the world all in one swoop is idiotic. It’s like trying to take the stairs more than two at at time. Maybe you can? Probably can do it once or twice, but probably a bad idea.

Weekly Updates

Things we’re thinking about this week:


Only doing things for ourselves.

What if we only created things for ourselves? Not for a client, not for any money, not even with a long-term goal in mind? What if we just concentrated on doing things that interested us?

It doesn’t have to be everything, but having one or two things that you ONLY do for yourself has a lot of benefits. There are no deadlines, no requirements, it just needs to make you happy. You’re not confined by the cost of creating something, or aiming to please anybody but yourself. More likely than not, what you create is going to mean more than anything else you create.

Perhaps this is what it feels like to be a true artist.

We all have to satisfy somebody - probably because the client has money and you have bills to pay. But the end result might not be something you’re proud to put your name beside - not because you didn’t put in your best effort, but because of all the compromises that had to be made along the way. (EVERYTHING needs to have the logo on it??)

Maybe just one or two things allows you to continue growing as a creative. Maybe that’s all we need.