Marketing Trends 2018: How to Make Your Marketing Plan Count


For marketing to truly matter, it has to produce measurable business results. Blame it on my investor relations background, but since founding Trefoil Group more than 25 years ago, this has been a guiding principle of our agency:  Make marketing a financial contributor to each client’s success.  Our question has always been, “How?”

For a long time, it was about removing barriers. Marketers lamented they didn’t have a seat at the table where strategies were being specified. Or, they weren’t respected by sales, asked only to equip them with materials – further widening the chasm between these two critical functions of an organization.


Today, these barriers appear to be gone. At the very least, they’re disappearing quickly. In larger organizations, CMOs are fast becoming CGOs – Chief Growth Officers responsible for driving new sources of revenue. And in mid-market and smaller companies alike, marketing is being asked to produce sales – more than creating leads, nurturing prospects through the sales funnel to close.

Accountability is the latest marketing trend. ROMI the latest buzz word.


What’s behind this shift to what we’re calling Performance-Based Marketing? Data for one. Today’s savvy marketers are placing more emphasis on the customer journey – gathering and analyzing data to assess their efforts, modify their strategies and execute more personalized messaging across multiple channels.

Internal communications are no longer about understanding the changing direction of the company. It’s about mobilizing employees to produce that future – measuring engagement, modifying messages and creating brand ambassadors based on what you know is working – or what isn’t.

Social media is no longer about the number of followers you have on Facebook or connections on LinkedIn. It’s about connecting with and influencing those people to take actions that help you achieve your business goals and objectives.

And PR is not about measuring column inches in publications whose readership is declining. It’s about building reputation, creating thought leadership assessments and leveraging that coverage across multiple channels – including social media, online advertising and e-communications – building databases, educating audiences and driving real, measurable engagement.


Yes, much has changed. But the fundamental principles continue to guide 2018 marketing trends. Here are my top five:

  1. Make sure you understand the growth goals of the organization. Businesses are in the midst of tremendous change. Be tapped into what the future looks like as it changes.
  1. Yes, it’s a digital world. But you need to create holistic, strategic plans that are integrated and repurposed across multiple channels to maximize both reach and effectiveness.
  1. Be smart. Know your customers and what motivates them. Get data, analyze it and use it to continually evolve what you’re doing – and what channels you’re using.
  1. Measure everything you do. Know what success looks like before you start executing. Ask to be accountable.
  1. Last but certainly not least, have a story worth listening to. Tell it from the customer’s perspective, not your own. Avoid the trap so aptly put in Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics so many years ago: “57 Channels and There’s Nothing On.”

The game for marketers isn’t changing. Marketers are changing the game. As a marketer, now’s the time to be a real impact player. Don’t sit this one out. Make what you do count.

Share Now