While it’s worth following trends, you should also keep an eye on anti-trends to run your business effectively in 2020. Over 20 CEOs, strategists and marketers shared their insights with us.
Keep reading to find out more!
Follow trends without questioning them.
The big problem with searching for trends is that they might not offer any real value to your business. Sure, there might be tactics that are boosting in popularity or working for some businesses, like augmented reality ads.
That doesn’t mean you need to use them. Instead of looking for trends, look for the reason why they’re working for the brand. Most of the time it’s not about the trend itself, but the problem that they’re solving for their customer.
Then, use that lesson to see what problems you can solve for yours. Don’t follow trends. Learn from them and use this knowledge to better your campaigns.
Danielle Strouther, Copywriter at Adzooma
Neglecting user reviews
Nowadays, user reviews on platforms like Yelp, G2 or Google Business are playing a vital role in the purchasing process of consumers. Regardless of whether B2B or B2C, potential buyers read reviews by former customers before they decide on purchasing a product or service. So, if you want to make sure that you don’t sell anything, feel free to neglect user reviewers. It will definitely help you avoid your business looking good to potential prospects. If you want to even make it worse, buy some reviews online. Platforms like Fiverr are great marketplaces to get started.
Will Cannon, CEO and Founder at UpLead
Ignoring employee happiness
According to Oxford University's Saïd Business School, there’s a relationship between employee happiness and productivity. Happy employees will provide better results than ones who hate their job. If you’re looking for a good way to outmaneuver your business, you should neither evaluate nor optimize the happiness of your best employees. This way, your best talents will be happy to leave your company as soon as possible. Great ways to neglect employee happiness are, for example, micromanaging your employees, providing no feedback at all and avoiding at all costs to praise your employees for doing great work.
Max Benz, Co-founder at remote-job.net
Not collecting data
You should definitely avoid collecting any data you could make use of later. For example, you shouldn’t use software like Google Analytics to track your website metrics or even tools like Hotjar to evaluate your visitors’ on-page behavior. This kind of software will definitely help you learn more about your potential prospects. Hence, you shouldn’t waste time on it. Whenever you have the possibility trust your gut feeling and neglect meaningful data.
Lisa Dietrich, Co-Founder at Let’s Be Crazy
Sticking to quantitative data only might mean that you’re missing the bigger picture. The number may tell you what is happening but they’ll never tell you why it is happening in the first place. If you truly want to get to know your customers, answer their needs and – ultimately – grow your business, you need to turn to qualitative analytics. Session recordings are a good place to start: they’re inexpensive and they’re a goldmine of information too.
Kamil Drazkiewicz, CEO and Founder at LiveSession
Promoting A Culture of Poor Time Management
Poor time management costs businesses millions of dollars annually. Sadly, many business owners are unaware of how time is being spent at work and how much money is being lost as a result of ineffective time management.
This anti-trend can cause low employee morale, high stress levels, burnout, low productivity and poor customer satisfaction. Worse still, it is going to cost most businesses millions of dollars in 2020 except effective time management strategies are implemented.
Many business owners are reluctant to make changes that are necessary to address this problem. For instance, some refuse to invest in time-management productivity tools that will help team members to allocate time for productive tasks, to avoid distractions, and to resist the temptation to multitask. But experts suggest that time management apps like Time Doctor, Toggl, Rescue time and so on can go a long way to boost employee productivity by over 22%. Moreover, most time management apps combine time tracking features with report generating, screenshot, monitoring, payroll module, chat monitoring and mobile tracking features. This simplifies task allocation and delegation.
Poor time management is also due to an unwillingness to delegate discretionary tasks to productivity tools. Sadly, this habit can lead to burning out, high stress and low productivity. To manage time effectively, many successful executives delegate employee management tasks to the time management software. This gives them ample time to focus on key tasks and to boost their productivity.
If you don’t want to ruin your business, promote a culture of effective time management in your organization. In addition, learn to manage your time effectively and to equip your employees with up-to-date time management knowledge and skills. Manage your time wisely; Don’t waste your time for time is money. And you need money to keep your business afloat.
Chioma Iwunze, Content Marketer at Time Doctor
If you want to ruin your business, the best way to do it is to start a stupid fight online.
It can be in the comments section of your Facebook or in a reply to a review. It could be an email to a customer, it could even be a text message to an internal team member.
Venting inappropriately, talk trash, or even saying something outright offensive will smear your reputation. This isn't about cancel culture or political correctness; it's just that we have screenshots and chat groups and Instagram feeds and professional networks.
Stupid fights, bad behaviour and loutish behaviour will be shamed and shared - and what follows will shatter the reputation of your business worse than throwing a brick at a bulletproof window.
The worst thing you can do in 2020 if you're trying to boost your business is blindly copying competitors.
Take note of what is working for your competitors, but make sure you put your own spin on it. There's a good chance your niche is oversaturated, so you need to make sure you stand out rather than become a clone.
Alice Corner, Content Marketer at Venngage
Don’t produce crap content.
There’s an unfortunate trend out there among some businesses that when it comes to content, quantity trumps quality. This leads to all sorts of low quality blog posts, social media content, advertisements, etc. In my experience this is one of the quickest ways to turn people off from your brand as it can make you seem insincere and incompetent. Reading a blog post, for example, that is poorly written, uninformed, full of misleading links, etc. is a painful experience. So in 2020 don’t go for low quality content, both for your sake and everyone else’s.
Nikola Baldikov, Digital Marketing Manager at Brosix
Here is an example of a few things you can do to write a bad email in 2020 (and beyond):
- Use the term 'Greetings of the day'
- Present yourself as someone doing 'Business Development' or 'Sales'
- Claim that you have expertise in everything
Stefan Debois, Founder & CEO at Survey Anyplace
The biggest mistake that you can make for your business is investing heavily into social media marketing.
So far, all of the companies I’ve worked in have had poor results with both organic and paid traffic and every channel out there performed better. For myself personally, Quora was the biggest letdown. We spent hours upon hours each month creating answers that drove almost no traffic to our website. In fact, the Quora traffic never made up more than 1% of our total website traffic. After four months of trying it out, I realized that this is a waste of time and money and switched to PR and link building and the results were much better immediately.
Carsten Schaefer, Founder and CEO at crowdy.ai
A few years ago, it was acceptable to create landing pages that looked like shit
Today, your customers are more connected than ever and will see through fake scarcity, bold headlines, and sketchy testimonials. You can no longer shock and awe them into buying from you. It’ll only create buyer’s remorse and ensure you have a high refund or chargeback rate.
Now, it’s more important than ever to have a purpose-driven brand that caters to the different segments of your audience. For example, you can’t talk to millennials and baby boomers the same way even if they can both get value out of your product. Use landing page builders that allow you to quickly spin up multiple pages or even dynamically replace content to cater to different audiences.
Daniel Ndukwu, Founder of KyLeads
I’ll go against the grain here and say that you don’t want to use chatbots if you want to achieve any kind of marketing success.
I know that they’ve been increasingly popular, but I think chatbots are dehumanizing and inefficient and they do more harm than good. They can answer only the basic questions, they don’t have actual AI capabilities and they take a ton of time to set up. In fact, by the time you set up the rules, you could have spent two full days answering customer questions. The biggest problem with them is that they’re not good for businesses that deal with a wide variety of clients. For example, we have solo freelancers and design companies with 50 employees buying our product. They will have different needs and questions, which can’t be addressed by a bot. Don’t waste your time and money, just hire a customer service rep.
Adam Hempenstall, Founder and CEO at Better Proposals
One thing that you definitely shouldn't do is try and please everyone.
While we were early on in the development process of our app, we got tons of interest from different audiences. Everyone had their own opinion on what we should do next. Everyone wanted different features and we went out of our way to please people and develop features for them.
Here's the problem: the majority of those people weren't even paying customers. They wanted a free app that suited all of their needs. Almost no one switched to the paid plan.
The second problem was that they wanted really dumb features such as support for sending gif images. We had much bigger and more important issues, such as making audio calls and building integrations. We wanted to create those features too but it was simply dumb and unprofitable.
The bottom line is: listen to your gut and your bottom line. Take your customers into account but don't prioritize things that don't immediately affect the balance on your bank account.
Olga Mykhoparkina, CMO at Chanty
During the last 5 years that we've been working closely with big eCommerce sites and retailers in the most competitive markets (US, UK, Asia). At the same time we are a SAAS ourselves, so the most important DONT's business-wise are:
[REPORTING] Don't skip "data mining" your company metrics. It is super crucial to periodically review what you have accomplished, what worked for you, what didn't and share this info with your team. None of the tasks of your to-do list can match this value. You will always have other things to do but DON'T postpone monthly reporting meetings. (On the other hand, try to be as time-effective as possible to your rest meetings)
[MANAGEMENT/LEADING] Don't concentrate all the operations on you. You don't have enough time and skills to check/fix everything (yes admit it). Hire people you believe that they are better than you at their duties, trust them and you will be amazed by the results. If not, be straightforward why you can't work together anymore. Try to be the leader/"boss" you'd love to have.
[PARTNERSHIPS] Don't underestimate them. The worst-case scenario at most partnerships is simply that they won't work. The best case scenario is massive increase in brand awareness and leads. More possible scenario is bigger numbers that you had at a very low cost. Not bad right?
[SALES/DISCOUNTS/PRICING] Sales and discounts are effective BUT they are definitely not friends with profitability. Avoid running sales frequently and focus on strategic/targeted sales and branding. If you are a SAAS increasing your pricing plans maybe one of the best things you will do in 2020 for your profitability, your customer support department & your health.
[SEO] Don't buy links. Just don't. If you get penalized by Google you may doom your business to failure, no ads, no organic traffic, no business. Do it steadily and naturally even if it far too slow and optimize this process. This is not "just a marketing thing", it is REALLY crucial in the search engine focused world we are living into.
[GOOGLE SHOPPING] This is one of the hottest adtech tools right now but don't upload unoptimized xml feeds if you have 1,000+ skus because you will "burn" LOTS of budget. Include only the high profit products.
Joyce Qian, Head of Strategy & Growth at ContactPigeon
Not diversifying your marketing efforts.
In the year 2020, you cannot trust in only one communication channel. Being active on social media does not matter that you can ignore customer service signals given over other channels. Having a great content strategy on your blog does not grant you valuable traffic and reaching each and everyone within your target group - without distribution, you may win nothing and your work can be in vain.
Brands cannot afford lack of diversifying marketing efforts nowadays and the sooner your brand gets aware of it, the better. Even if one channel works wonders for you, you should not neglect other ways of reaching your perfect audience and growing your business. Unless... you don't want to grow it.
Wojciech Jasnos, CEO & Founder RocketLink.io
You'll be familiar with the story behind the $20million+ debacle that was... Fyre Festival (and if not there's a documentary on Netflix and Hulu to fill you in!).
But what you might know is that it was only a launch party, for (the original intention), which was a new app, for bookings musicians and entertainers.
And it was pretty apparent to me the more I learned about Billy McFarland the CEO of Fyre (and most probably to Ja after everything hit the fan), is that while you need to build a team and delegate what you don't know.... You also need to be careful HOW MUCH you delegate and how much you trust others, when your own reputation (and/or) money is on the line. Sure, they may the seemingly amazing track record and the credentials to back up their abilities - but don't trust them to the point where you basically hand over your baby to them. Because at least if their abilities don't match up to your expectations - you'll be savvy enough to step in!
Amit Raj, from Amit Digital Marketing
The bad thing with us (marketers) is that we tend to ruin everything that's good and works in marketing.
Think of pop-ups when they first started. No one had a problem with them and I'm sure they were working pretty good for the sites using them. In the same vein, think of lead generation forms and more recently conversational marketing tools which may be working now, but the way we're misusing them may affect their effectiveness pretty soon. What I'm trying to say is that when something is good and it works, everyone is going to do the exact same thing. And, according to the The Law of the Sitty Clickthroughs by Andrew Chen, this will gradually decrease the effectiveness of that strategy/ tactic.
So, the question that arises here is: What can you do instead? What can you do as a marketer to ensure that you'll get results for your clients or for yourself? Stay away from all these tactics. Have you heard about a new template that's working right now in cold outreach? Stay away from it. A link building tactic that's hot and only a few people know about? Stay away from it. A new tool that allows you to do x while doing y? Stay away from it. Try to be original. Write your own playbook. Play by your own rules and start focusing on setting up processes instead of testing the next hot tactic or a cool tip that everyone is talking about right now.
The reality is that most B2B businesses are tactics-driven, while they should be strategy-driven. That little change makes a huge difference. You can't win on the long-term if you're tactics-driven. You need strategy and you need good execution. To have good execution you need processes. Thus, I'd say that not doing what everyone else is doing is the best thing to do in 2020 (and beyond). This will get you the results you want and deserve.
Georgios Chasiotis, Managing Director at MINUTTIA
In 2020 businesses will face the advancing technology and increasing power of the buyers.
That means that simply trying to sell your product or service to the masses will no longer work. In the era of personalization, the customers will be turned away from any business that does not adjust their marketing message to suit the individual needs of each customer group. Stop sending mass emails or pushy marketing campaigns unless you want to bear the consequences of annoying your clients and landing in SPAM.
Furthermore, customer service will become the key factor in keeping your customers loyal. Delayed or lack of response to their questions and concerns might be detrimental for your business. As we see the rise of intelligent customer service solutions, such as live chats, it is important to jump on board and become your customers’ hero, ready to be at their service at any time.
Arek Ponski, Founder at TeamBuzz.io
My top anti-trend for boosting your business in 2020 is the attempt to cover all the trends in the effort to seize the unseizable.
Some brands are afraid of being out of touch, so they start implementing everything: chatbots, video marketing, long-form content with optimization for Google's featured snippets, review platforms (all they are top marketing trends of 2020, by the way), etc. Naturally, it's common for small and local brands, but still.
You'll fail customer retention and loyalty if thinking of trends rather than your target audience needs and search intent. If they aren't on Facebook, no chatbot will save your business, no matter how trendy it is. Content marketing continues to dominate the digital landscape this year, so just focus on a smart content strategy - and your targets will find you.
Lesley Vos, Content Strategist at Bid4Papers
Bad Practice #1: Hire people with the right skills. While this sounds valid, the truth is that most of the times you will realize that skills can be built/acquired, while mentality, philosophy, and values are unfortunately much rarer to find. So, believe me, it is much better to build a proper and healthy business culture in the long term. So, in short, chasing personalities>chasing skills.
Bad Practice #2: Control everything. As your business grows your role should become more and more coordination-focused rather than execution-focused. It is simply not scalable to review anything and decide for everything. You will have to trust people making decisions for you and this will greatly improve their skills as well. Ignore this and doom your business to stay small forever.
Bad Practice #3: Run sales (all the time): This can be applied in both eCommerce & SaaS businesses. Pricing is not a competitive advantage. Why? Because it can be copied within a minute. So a sure way to create delusions to your analytics, board, and company as a whole, is to continuously run promotions with sales to provoke conversions. Soon you will realize that this tactic completely smashes both your profit margins and brand equity & differentiation.
Bad Practice #4: Skip monthly meetings: Meetings can be quite harmful to productivity but if you postpone or, even worse, cancel a monthly reporting meeting, you will lose the control of your ship in no time.
This is the sole process to dive into your data and realize what worked for your business and what didn't. Skip this process "to complete more tasks" and you will have no idea which are your real growth engines and what causes your numbers to go down. (You should try minimizing the rest meetings, though)
Bad Practice #5: Buy links for SEO. This is old but gold. You probably have heard that buying low-quality links will hurt your traffic since the 2010s. The truth is that as Google becomes more and more intelligent and as you probably have invested thousands of workhours all these years to build your website (redesigns, blog posts, campaigns, data entry, lines of coding, outsourcing services, etc), it is obviously out of question to risk losing all these assets for a bunch of backlinks. Be sure that Google will find you and penalize you and of course, be sure that you will be out of business within less than a year if that happens to your domain.
George Mirotsos, Co-founder & CEO ContactPigeon
There are numerous ways to lose customers and ruin your business when thinking of the customer-company relationship.
Poor customer service, not delivering on the promise, low-quality offering… These are obvious things to fix. But succeeding in the world of business highly depends on the people hired to run it.
In 2020 and beyond, it will be important to build employee-centric organizations. What can kill your business is poor internal structure, unmotivated and disengaged employees, and hiring without doing a thorough screening. Neglecting your employees’ needs and not trying to align their personal values and goals with professional ones can be a real threat to any company that wants to succeed. If you want your organization to grow, you have to help your staff grow, too, in 2020, and in the years to come.
Kas Szatyłowicz, Content Manager at Digital Olympus
Do more manual work!
It might not seem like it at first, but plenty of day-to-day processes across different professions and industries can be automated. In fact, if implemented properly, dedicated software can help you decrease time and effort spent on manual and rather time-consuming tasks, so that you can focus on more demanding activities. Not to mention that modern tech solutions offer a set of relevant features and system integrations that can not only make your job easier but also provide you with more substantial insights on the performance of your business. If your company cares about numbers (as it should) – there’s no better way to become more data-driven than leverage process automation and learn how to use available tech tools to your advantage.
Piotr Morawiec, Marketing Manager at Amaka
Forget that your customers are real people!
In these times where various growth hacking tactics are flourishing, it is easy to forget that behind the computer there are real people. Real people who are busy doing "real people things", and that your service/tool is supposed to make their life easier. At Filecamp we try hard to listen to our customers instead of (just) looking at numbers. We are confident that when real people like what you are doing the numbers will follow. It's good for the "real people", it's good for Google SERP results, and it's good for you 😄🚀
Jesper Faurby, Co-founder at Filecamp
Hopefully, now you are aware of some crucial DON’Ts for 2020.
Every business and their target groups, sectors and competitors are different, so you have to adjust your growth and marketing strategy.
Be aware of the most common business mistakes: and simply don’t make them.
Get inspired by other professionals and have a successful year!
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