5 Marketing Lessons I Learned in 2017

This year was a year of change. Of failure. Of anxiety-inducing news cycles. But hopefully it was a year of growth for you as it was for me. I changed roles, changed jobs, traveled the world, and learned a whole lot along the way. Here's the top 5 marketing lessons I learned that will inform how I approach marketing, the universe, and everything in 2018.

Brand Is Your Strategy

When we think of a brand, the first thing that comes to mind is usually a logo. But that's really just the beginning. Brand is everything. Every interaction an employee has with a customer. Every tweet. Every page of the website. Every time the CEO opens their mouth.

In a year where we have companies dragging passengers off flights or composing really, really tone-deaf advertising, it's a worthwhile lesson to repeat.

Related: Brand Is Your Strategy

It's easy working in marketing to see this. Every time you create a piece of content or send an email, you're reflecting your brand. But it's an ethos that needs to be on every team, from product to customer support. 

Make It Easier For Your Customers to Buy From You

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This one seems obvious, but if you dig into your company's processes, are you really making it easy for your customer to buy from you? This means your site is easy to navigate, there are clear call to action buttons (and not a million of them) and you offer a variety of payment options, like credit cards and PayPal.

Related: Why You Need to Help Your B2B Prospects

But it's also reflected in your marketing. Many purchases in the business world don't require convincing the user, but convincing the user's manager. If you've built a brand and a product that people want to buy, your prospects will be up front about this problem. It's up to you to help prospects become customers.

Ask More Questions

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This was the year I learned how to ask more questions—not just of my team but of my customers, too. 

Do you really know what they're thinking every day? Probably not, even if you're in customer support. So if you're wondering why something you're doing isn't working, or why you're not getting the results you hoped for from an experiment or campaign, it might be time to ask.

Related: If You Have a Question, Ask It

There's lots of ways to do this—surveys, focus groups, and the like. But the best way, like most things, is the simplest. Literally, just ask.

Retention Is The Most Important

One of the biggest paradigm shifts for me this year was thinking about business in a much more holistic way. As a marketer, my job is usually to bring as many people into our website and ecosystem as possible. I write words, I compose tweets, and plan events. Acquisition is satisfying. We can clearly see the numbers going up and up and up. 

But none of those activities are worth anything if you can't hold on to your customers. Otherwise, you'll be scrambling to refill a leaky bucket of customers leaving to try the next big thing. Even if you acquire users like crazy, if they don't stay, you'll lose in the long term.

Related: You Can't Refill a Leaky Bucket Forever

Lean Into Uncertainty

Boy, was this a year of uncertainty.

I'm a planner. It's almost a compulsion, really. Whether I'm traveling to far off lands or figuring out which road I'm going to take into the office, I have to write everything down, in a list, with the plan. 

The idea of being uncertain, of not knowing what to do next, terrifies me. It's why I've chosen to put my head down and stop thinking about possibility and potential and focus on executing this project or this blog post or that thing, right now. It's because when I let myself drift off into the clouds of what could be, I lose sight of what is.

Related: Lean Into Uncertainty

Getting laid off this year was more than a little terrifying. But leaning into uncertainty—and remaining true to my compass instead of the pressures around me—helped me land an awesome gig doing what I love.

2017, you were a wild ride. Here's to an awesome 2018 for all of you.

Every year, I like to reflect on what I've learned. If you want to see some more marketing lessons, see what I learned in 2015 and what I learned in 2016.