4 Essential Marketing Principles for 2016

It's time for marketers to revisit these fundamental principles as they craft their 2016 strategies.

Despite the ever-evolving business and technology landscape, today's mission for marketers remains the same: build brand loyalty and longevity while also generating sales (all while within the constraints of a finite budget). What has changed are the means by which this can all be achieved.

In 2016, it's time for marketers to revisit four fundamental principles that are sometimes forgotten when an organization is focused on trying to adopt and make use of technology innovations that change at hyper-speed.

1. Customer experience is still #1

Everything a marketing plan puts into action must fundamentally boil down to satisfying-or, ideally, exceeding expectations of-the customer with each interaction. Thus, each strategy must address the customer experience and each tactic needs to be relevant to the individual customer.

It's important to get in the mindset of taking advantage of data-driven analytics as a standard part of marketing practice. This analysis is key to understanding how to personalize buyer journeys and identifying behavioral trends, sometimes even before the trend is conscious in the consumer.

2. Take advantage of tech (not the other way around)

Technologies are continually popping up to create new, faster ways to work, as well as new avenues to reach customers. While there can be value in employing the latest innovations, the marketing stack can rapidly become too complex. Don't be quick to jump on "the next best thing since sliced bread" without careful consideration of how a particular tool or platform will help you reach marketing goals in efficient and meaningful ways. Your marketing stack should depend on your brand's particular go-to-market strategy, but in general should include:

? A marketing automation platform (ex. Hubspot, Marketo).

? An advanced analytics platform (ex. Google Analytics) - Leads came in as a result of a webinar, sure-but how did they find out about the webinar itself?

? Technology that will help minimize the amount of time spent prospecting or segmenting marketing messages (ex. Yesware).

? Content marketing technology/platform (ex. Uberflip, Wordpress).

? Website performance tools (ex. Optimizely) - Your website should be your #1 selling tool, so set it up to be a conversion machine.

3. Lead by example

Every marketing leader should know how to do the following things, thereby passing this on to the whole team to make sure everyone succeeds:

? Move buyers through the journey from discovery to action in a way that's both efficient and provides them with a great experience.

? Recognize whether planned marketing tactics will result in value being created for the customer/end user and whether that value is tangible or inherent (like a piece of information they previously didn't possess).

? Enable the sales team to turn leads into opportunities, by both equipping its members with technology (see #2) and skills to close deals, as well as an understanding of the overall value that the tactics and strategy are supposed to create, so that they can make sure the end result is in line with these goals.

? Allocate budget wisely. Spend where your activities are most effective, converting qualified leads into sales. Even if the marketing mix is only two or three channels, that's okay. It also makes sense to set aside a small amount of budget for low-cost experiments, to determine what the next initiative will be, but otherwise, remain focused on fueling what you know works.

4. Content must create value

More content is being produced than ever before, and this is important from an SEO perspective. However, don't get caught up in generating content for content's sake. Pare down the material you create to specifically align with your buyer personas. Content at every customer touchpoint must be relevant and add value for customers along their respective journeys.

Similarly, don't flood all of your channels with content in the hopes that something will stick; customers will grow very weary. If you want to generate growth in the short term and continue to grow the brand for the long haul, content must deliver a clear and succinct value message that demonstrates what a prospect or customer stands to gain by buying what you're selling.