What's In and Out in 2023
Laura Madden: Hey everybody. Thank you for joining us for our second episode of Level Up, the podcast for marketers by marketers created by LEV, that distills best practices and strategies focused on helping marketers increase their experience, one up their strategy, and grow personally and professionally. If you missed our first episode, shame on you. But you should really consider catching up, because you'll get an introduction to all of our great Level Up hosts. I am Laura Madden, one of your hosts, and I am the Senior Manager of Marketing Strategy and Services here at Lev. And I am joined by the lovely Jordan Kraus. Hey there, Jordan.
Jordan Kraus: Hey, I'm Jordan. I am the client success partner here at Lev. So I think when we were preparing for this episode of What's In and Out, I was originally talking to Laura about some of the fashion trends that maybe were out before that are coming back now. One of them being, I think some of these we know like bell- bottoms we've heard about coming back and straight leg pants. But the most recent and maybe most egregious trend I've seen come back is the hair poof, where you just take that front section of your hair and pull it back into a little poof.
Laura Madden: Oh my gosh. And wasn't there, so there's like, there's tools that go with it, right? There's like a teasing comb, which sometimes I can get behind if you need a little bit of volume, but oh, it was a bump- it.
Jordan Kraus: BumpIt, the BumpIt, yeah.
Laura Madden: BumpIt that you would put under there and it's just very Jersey shore. I'm getting flashbacks to that.
Jordan Kraus: A great in note in history.
Laura Madden: Yeah, but it needs to stay in history I think. I'm like, that's cool with me. I'm all about if you need to do a little pin- up and get just with some bobby pins and pin your hair back, maybe it's on day two of a wash or something, but I don't need a BumpIt.
Jordan Kraus: Claw clips have been back in style. Claw clips was something my mom used to have. I remember growing up in the 90s and now, yeah, this is a full fashion trend.
Laura Madden: Oh my gosh, Jordan, I mean you guys can't see this, but she had a claw clip. She's got visual aids.
Jordan Kraus: I've been using them yeah. I'm, I'm not like a prop comic. I've actually have one because I'm very, very in fashion.
Laura Madden: Right? I was going to say I use it but not for fashion. I literally use it to pull my hair back when I'm washing my face so I don't get the lines from a ponytail holder or whatever. But I don't use it out and about or at the pool. I don't know.
Jordan Kraus: That's probably a lot more respectable than.
Laura Madden: I mean that that's me, respectable, always. Well, I mean we could go on and on obviously about fashion trends, but that's not why you guys are here. You guys are here to hear about marketing, but we're still going to put a spin on it because when we talked about In and Out Jordan and I could not help but go the RuPaul's Drag Race way of" Shante, you stay" and" sashay away". So if something gets in, it's Shante, you stay. And if it's out, sashay away. So we're still going to liven it up a little bit. And even as we were talking about all of this and figuring out the endless combinations of things that are in and out for 2023, the common thread that we've found is that really what's out is working harder and what's in is working smarter so that age old idea of work smarter, not harder. And that really felt like the common thread throughout all of these topics that we were talking about. So with that, I'll start us off with our first one. So the sashay away that needs to be out is the idea of just operating with business as usual, rinse and repeat. What did we do last year? Let's do it again this year. We're going to be scared to try new things because change is hard. I get change is real hard. It's maybe why some of us are using those claw clips forever. It's what I know. I don't want to change. But what we need to think about being in and Shante, you stay is assessing and optimizing and finding those things that are the most impactful. Whether it's a channel that you're going after, maybe there's a channel that doesn't serve you anymore. You guys, if you heard my intro, you I love emails. I'm never going to tell you to not do email because there's always a way to leverage that. But maybe it's not for your whole audience. Maybe it's just a certain audience. How do we know that? Test into it. It's okay. And especially with the changing economy and just the world is changing so much what you've done, what you did last month might not even work let alone what you did last year. So don't be afraid to try out those new things and test and learn. And Jordan, I know you see this with your clients all the time with helping them get over that hump. So curious to hear your take on that.
Jordan Kraus: I think we were talking a little bit about the way that marketers are incented. I was listening to a marketing millennials podcast and they were talking about how the phrase is you never get fired for hiring IBM. And what that means is that there's very little risk in doing the same things that you've always done and maybe even job security in being able to tie a lot of the logic to why you've made those decisions. Even Tyler in our last podcast when he was talking about people make emotional decisions and then rationalize them with objective facts. So I think the thing is, if you're not testing and you're just doing the same things that you always have, maybe there isn't a lot of risk in doing that but there certainly is not a lot of reward. And in this economy where we have very little resources and budgets are getting tighter, we just can't afford to keep doing the same things that we've always done.
Laura Madden: Yeah, I think that's a great point. In thinking about it from the client perspective and the marketer's perspective, it's like we're typically working with them of how can we make you look good to your C- suite or your boss or your boss's boss of that's why we're here. We want to help you. We want to make you look good. But on their side, they're like, I don't want to mess up. I don't want to take this risk. And it goes south and then it be all on me. So totally, it's very tough and I think we'll talk about this later, but that's why you want to have good partners with you that will help support you in taking those risks because it's scary and nobody wants to do it alone, and you shouldn't have to do it alone. And that's why there's great consultants Lev ding to help you do that. Am I a salesperson now? I don't even know. I don't know. It just happened. Okay, so when we're talking about testing and not being scared to try new things or maybe not, depending on the things that always have served you in the past, one of those things that a lot of marketers have really leaned heavily on is third party data. It's there, it's dependable, it's something that I can count on. Well, but we know in 2023 or whenever they decide to make it fully go away, that we're not going to be able to be as reliant on third party data. And you really need to focus on first party data and figuring out how do I get that? How do I know if it's reliable or not? How do I test into that? So that's our next topic of third party being out, quite literally, of it not being available in the future and really focusing more on that first party data. First party data is great too because you own it. It's yours, it's what you know about your customers. It's really hard to have that taken away and you can own that customer relationship even better when you own that data. So that's something that we find really, really important. That's a positive that's come out of the necessity of moving away from that third party data. Jordan nodding her head off.
Jordan Kraus: Absolutely. I can't agree more. I was just sharing this article I read the other day that said third party data is the hot dog meat of data because you don't really know what's in it, you don't know what you're getting. It's obviously low quality. And that just sticks in my mind. So even in my notes here I have, this is so yesterday, third party data. If you're using third party data, which I know a lot of clients still are, you should have a plan by now to phase out that third party data. But more than that, that doesn't mean that inferring preferences goes away, it just changes the information that you're going to use to infer those preferences. So start with your first party data. Start the conversation with your customers on what their preferences are. Build a strategy to collect those preferences over time so you can learn more about them, but then also have a plan of action for how you're going to use the information that you're collecting from your users. Like a marketing term that's floating around right now is zero party data. The definition of zero party data is essentially just users, customers who give you information knowing that you're going to use it for personalization. So first party data might be like your email address, your first and last name, your physical address, zero party data would be your favorite color, if you have oily or dry skin, if you have brown hair or blonde hair, it could be something where you're looking for preferences to specifically come out of the information that you're providing. And in a world where consumers are demanding personalization, this two- way relationship of a customer telling you what you want and then you delivering what they want is super critical to customer loyalty. And again, this kind of goes back to the conversation of the state of affairs in our economy in 2023 that there is going to be an emphasis on customer loyalty and we can no longer afford to invest in growth at all costs. And we have to start to consolidate our strategies and we need to leverage the first party data that we do have. And I think the other kind of trend that we'll start to see in 2023 is, well, I think ChatGPT has opened the door for a lot of what we can do with AI. In fact, our CEO posted a pretty cool feature where you can use AI to generate images within an email. But I think what we'll start to see is more AI being embedded into existing solutions to help us make some of those, I educated guesses about our customers and what their preference are. So if you're struggling to figure out how to capture first party data, that's when you might call somebody up like Laura and her team to see what do I incent my customers? What do you think would work to be engaging enough to get this data? Since third party data has to sashay away.
Laura Madden: Sashay girl, sashay. Yeah. I love what you talked about with the two- way communication. We really think of it as that value exchange. So like you said, customers, we're customers, we expect it. It's like, yeah, I'm giving you this information, but I can kind of tell if I'm still just getting the same thing as everybody else or the dreaded like, dear customer salutation. It's like good grief, can you at least use my name? I mean that's the bare minimum, but we're talking about further personalization down the road with that, but how can we get that value exchange? We've talked about is it a freemium type thing? Is it early access? It doesn't have to be dollars off. I think that's kind of where everybody goes of, well, I can't offer somebody a discount, I can't give them that. It can be, well, you get early access to this or you get special access to something else. There are ways to do it, think about how you have those value exchanges in your own life. And also when we're talking about why this data is important, it's exactly what you were saying, Jordan, it's to fuel that personalization. Even like the ChatGPT, that is data driven. They had to have data to be able to produce those. So data is really where it all derives from. And so you need to be collecting that from your customers and they're expecting it to be collected. I won't go down the rabbit hole of consent and GDPR and all of that stuff because really the biggest thing is just be transparent and if somebody says, get rid of my data, get rid of it. That's really all it boils down to asterisk I nor Lev, we are not your lawyers, please consult you, your legal team. But that's really what it comes down to is just being transparent. Don't be shady with the data and the first party data will serve you well. That first party data, Shante, you stay, for life.
Jordan Kraus: For life and the whole point of capturing this data to learn more about your customers and to build loyalty with your customers is so that you then can encourage more authentic interactions and experiences. So the transparency serves you to build trust with your customer and that, millennial generation, generation Z even more so is demanding an authentic interaction with a company that also has some sort of corporate responsibility. So I think another trend that we've been talking about in 2023 is more authentic branding and corporate responsibility. There was actually a HubSpot survey that came out that said 50% of Gen Zers and 40% of millennials want companies to take a stance on social issues, racial justice, LGBTQ + rights, gender equality, climate change. And that's not necessarily just companies that they want to transact with, that they want to purchase from, but also companies they want to work for. So now we're realizing being authentic, being responsible with data, taking action on some of these social issues is also going to be critical to attracting the right talent to your organization. And what's out is fake campaigns. I think just like Laura you were saying, just like we see sometimes in emails, dear valued customer, we can also tell when a marketing campaign feels disingenuous. Some folks might call this greenwashing in the world of climate change, if a company is trying to appear to be green but really doesn't have any measurable commitments for how they plan to impact climate change, we as consumers are getting a lot smarter and your talent's getting a lot smarter. So you can't just make the commitment to awareness without any measurable commitments and expect the same influence. Especially, the other thing is we're becoming very focused on influencer marketing and de- influencer marketing and trying to look for folks to tell us who are the brands that we can trust and what is this experience really like outside of the marketing?
Laura Madden: And even those influencers are not immune to being found out. It goes beyond the hashtag ad or hashtag not an ad, but people deep dive on them too. So it can be very tricky and really it's the idea of if you always tell the truth, you don't have to keep up with your lies. It's like if you're just genuine and you're backing up what you're doing, then you don't have to try to cover it up. And if you're not at that place where you're ready to make that commitment, either from a structural or a financial standpoint or it's just something that your company's not prioritizing right now, I think the better route is to just not try to shout it from the rooftops or get on the bandwagon if you're not really ready to do that. Maybe just looking at how can I be an ally even if I'm not leading in the space? That's okay too. We don't want anybody to freak out and say, I'm not prepared to take this on. We don't want to be fake. We don't want to do it. That's okay, but just don't. I'm thinking about when people call out companies who they change their logo in June to be rainbow colors and they're like, that's real cute. What are you doing? So just exactly, don't change your logo. If you're not really doing anything, that's okay. You'd rather be just kind of taking a backseat on this one. That's all right. I mean, if it's not something that you can focus your efforts on right now because you don't want to fake it, this is not a fake it till you make it. I say that a lot, but in this case, no, you got to make sure that that you're ready to really commit.
Jordan Kraus: I think it goes back to our other topics too, that you can't just rinse and repeat or copy what everyone else is doing, and you shouldn't do all of those things. You should figure out which one of these corporate social, where does your organizational values fit? Where do they fit amongst these topics? And where could you genuinely make an impact? Versus seeing what the competition is doing and replicating it. You really have to understand who is your customer, what do they want and who are you as a company? Because the business of just doing what we've always done and keeping one step behind competition, just it's not going to cut it anymore.
Laura Madden: Yeah. And I think some of those things will just naturally illuminate themselves within your company. I think of Lev as the prime example of, our senior leadership team is, I don't know, majority female at this point. I think for a moment it was all female and now it's majority. And that's not to say there was an effort put behind that, but it's just how our company came together and how our leadership team came together. I personally loved hearing that when I was interviewing at Lev back in the day. I love being a part of that as a woman in consulting, but it just happened. And so if you have something like that in your company, then tell that and talk about how that came to be and how that's a reflection of your culture and your values. But it doesn't have to be forced. It can just be something that is inherently happening within your company and that will make it feel genuine for sure.
Jordan Kraus: So authentic branding, corporate responsibility, Shante, you stay. Disingenuous campaigns, greenwashing, pridewashing, sashay away.
Laura Madden: All the way away. I put in a little plug for Lev there because I just love our women in leadership and we did talk about, it is Women Women's History month. So Jordan and I are representing on this podcast this month for that. But I think when we're talking about all of this and who you work with, who you decide to have as part of your team when you're trying to figure out what's in what's out, what do I prioritize in 2023 and beyond? The biggest thing for us is really just finding that strategic partner who is going to be along for the ride with you, who is going to support you and have your back when you have to make those scary, maybe a little bit risky decisions. Have someone who's been there, done that can help you to do those things because they're going to have to be done. Again, all of the things that we said had to sashay away, you've got to get rid of that thinking and you have to do some new things, and that's scary. So if you have a partner who can help you with that, that's going to be huge. And along with that is probably going to come some sort of consolidation in partnerships. That's one thing that we kind of see as sashaying away is the idea that everything has to be siloed, everything has to be completely different groups and that there's not going to be any kind of cross- training or skills available for you. Now, that's not to say it's kind of the idea of Jack of all trades, master of none. It's not to say, oh, everybody just has to have one singular partner that you're working with. That's not necessarily going to be feasible either. But just as we're talking about budgets are getting tighter, your teams are getting smaller, and it's harder to manage all of these different vendors. Think about how you can consolidate, how you can maybe even enable your team to take on some of those things in house. I know one of those things I love about Lev is that we are very teach to fish and we don't want to just help you stand up a piece of MarTech or implement a new strategy and then be like, " Oh, bye, good luck. Hope you have fun making this sustainable and scalable." We really want to enable our client partners to take that on. And I think those are some of those considerations when you're thinking about how do I do things differently in 2023 and beyond versus what I've done in the past. Those are some of the things that we think should Shante, you stay.
Jordan Kraus: Yeah. Yeah, I think that's well said it. And I don't think too it's, I think you're moving away from having specialized partners in several different places and looking for a partner who has a more nuanced view of all of the goals of your whole organization and where we fit in within those goals. So we know Salesforce platforms very well, but we are much more than a Salesforce consultancy, and we see ourselves as MarTech experts who have a pulse on what's going on in the industry and what's going on with marketing trends. And we understand that not everybody's going to have the luxuries that we've seen in the past few years of having several specialized partners. And so a part of this is out of need too, to consolidate the vendors, consolidate your technologies. You have less to manage long term. Just find places where you can integrate where you can and look for a partner who's willing to understand your business goals outside of just one technology, and also who can enable you to own your technology long term so that you can focus on strategy instead of tactical execution. I think it's interesting because right now where we're headed into a really tough economy and we have a tough economy, two steps after the pandemic, the customer expectations are higher than ever. So that's why a lot of, I think our advice here is to work smarter, not harder, because you have limited resources with high customer expectations. So that is it. I think kind of the summary here over everything that we've talked about, find somebody who you can partner with who understands your full business and the full scope of your goals. Integrate places where you can. Test often, make hypothesis and don't be afraid to test those hypothesis. Sometimes we assume something has worked, like it's always worked, but it's super critical to continue to test and make sure that that's the case and be open to change. And then combine your data science with a human touch. Data driven marketing isn't always perfect. Sometimes we think data is telling us something, but the real answer is in the customer experience and what they're feeling and what their sentiments are in working with us.
Laura Madden: Yeah, I'm thinking another thing that's kind of coming out of this that we try to do as consultants too, is just trust your gut. I think we let that go a lot. When you were talking about data, it made me think of that of, well, the data's telling me this, but you know your business, you know your customers. If you're seeing something and you're like, oh, my gut's just telling me that's not right. Or if you started your strategic planning for the year and you're just going down one path and you're like, oh, my gut is just telling me this is not the right path. Even though sometimes it's scary to change, it can be what you need to do a lot of the time, right? Because the other alternative is going down a path that is not right and is not going to get that ROI or whatever it is your success metric is. So I think also just remembering to trust your gut, talk it out with someone, whether that's your consulting partner, whether that's another coworker at the office and just saying, am I mess... I can't tell you how many Slack conversations I start with gut check or keep me honest, because especially if you're a remote worker, let me tell you, you don't get to bounce those ideas off of people as much. And so I think that's another thing that we've kind of, at this point in time, gotten used to being isolated and being feeling like it's all on you and you have to do all of this, but you've got your team around you, so lean on them, trust your gut, and I think we're all going to have a good 2023. I'm knocking on wood. I'm not jinxing anything. I'm not, that's not what's happening.
Jordan Kraus: Yeah. Put your hair pouf in. Go get your claw clips. Wear as many gauchos as you as your heart desires.
Laura Madden: Oh God, we didn't even talk about gauchos. I can't like just give me my skinny leg jeans or my skinny leg leggings and just let me be.
Jordan Kraus: They're not even called gauchos anymore. They're called flowing cropped yoga pants or something like this.
Laura Madden: That's silly. It's a gauchos, re- watch Never Been Kissed. It's a gauchos pant and it was on sale. Okay.
Jordan Kraus: All right. Well, I'll close this out. Thank you for joining us for this episode of Level Up, looking to continue to level up your knowledge of the latest news, technology and marketing trends affecting marketers day to day? Stay tuned for future episodes of Level Up with new episodes coming out every other Thursday on Spotify and Apple Music. Until next time, thank you for leveling up your marketing knowledge with us.
With changes in consumer preferences, constrained budgets, and a potentially rocky economy, marketers have a lot of challenges to consider and overcome. In this episode of Level Up, the podcast focused on helping marketers 1-UP their strategy and grow personally and professionally, Laura and Jordan discuss the marketing trends they believe are in and out in 2023.
Gain insight into how you can make more accurate decisions with first-party data, increase customer loyalty through building more authentic experiences, and find a knowledgeable, strategic partner who will work alongside you to solve your biggest challenges.