Nicola Watts
5 Habits To Break In 2017

It’s a new year, a time to reflect, to take stock. What better way to start then putting these five out-of-date habits behind us!

Phew! 2016, that shocker of a year, is finally done and dusted. Welcome with open arms 2017. Bring it on. It can only be better. The possibilities are endless, right? Hmm not quite so, if we continue with certain habits that dominated 2016 and quite frankly have had their day. Arguably, there’s no place for any of these in 2017.

1. Buzzwords


Marketing is rife with buzzwords. It has its own tribal vocabulary. Some are valuable and have merit, but many are overused and abused by people wanting to sound smart, but are either meaningless or at best used incorrectly.

However, the fundamentals of marketing have remained consistent – strategy, target, positioning, communicate and sell. It’s the tools and channels that have changed. Coining new phrases to make something seem new and different is a waste of time and energy best served by getting the basics right in the first place

What are the worst offenders?

For me, ‘content marketing’ has to be up near the top of any list. Marketing is about creating and then disseminating messages, or content as it now likes to be called, ergo all Marketing is Content Marketing.

‘Omnichannel’ – really what’s wrong with multiple, ‘Native Advertising’ – or clever paid media and ‘Alien Advertising’- not so clever! Don’t get me started on ‘Post-truth’ – this does not mean that you let emotions rather than facts guide your decision making or that you are indifferent to the question of truth. Please look up the correct definition before using it! Pick one buzzword and drop it. Why complicate things unnecessarily – life does that all on its own.

2. Demographic Labels


Two major pieces of independent research conducted last year established that patterns of behaviour and attitudes are more appropriate tools for targeting consumers than broad-brush demographic labelling, specifically generational.  Stop using terms like millennial to define an amorphous set of people linked only by the virtue of being born in a man-specified time frame.

Forrester created ‘The Empowered Customer Segmentation’ after analysing more than 30,000 adults across nine European countries. This clustered consumers into five groups according to how they respond to new products and technology. According to Forrester analyst Anjali Lai, “there’s a type of behaviour and attitude that isn’t just a function of age or even a life-stage”.

Brand consultancy, The Gild explored generational stereotypes amongst adults living in the UK; can each one be collectively characterised by their date of birth? The answer unsurprisingly was a categorical no. They found that ‘baby boomers’ could quite easily be ‘Millennials’ in spirit and vice versa.

3. Digital Bubbles


Everything you see, read and hear about online isn’t always real. You probably already know this, but recent evidence suggests being reminded all the same is a good idea. A lot of people who should know better bought into the perceived social media view on who would win the US presidential election, and before that, the outcome of the UK referendum. Neither turned out to be correct. And both seemed a surprise to huge swathes of the population.

Curated, personalised and often single-minded news feeds have the potential to distort our view of the world and consequently our view of our customers’ world. For sure, we all prefer to engage with content that reinforces our own pre-existing views and biases. But, insulating ourselves in social media bubbles containing only people who write, talk and think like we do is a dangerous form of digital segregation. If not to make you a more tolerant person, at least seek exposure to views that can help you understand your customers.

4. Presentism


This may be a particular focus of British media but, examples of presentism seemed to dominate the headlines in 2016. For those not familiar with the concept it’s defined as “an attitude toward the past dominated by present-day attitudes and experiences” by Merriam-Webster. Basically, it means applying present day moral judgements on history so everything and everybody appear bigoted in terms of modern values. People and even events are products of their time and should only be judged within that context and not re-interpreted by today’s standards. We should look to learn from histories mistakes to shape a better future rather than waste time demanding it be re-written. Hindsight bias is arguably a form of presentism.

5. Unbalanced work/home life


I’m not sure that I’ve ever knowingly supported restrictive employment laws but, one cannot help but admire the new French law introduced on January 1st. The “right to disconnect” requires companies with more than 50 employees to set up specific hours when staff should not send or respond to emails. The aim is to ensure that employees are fairly paid for work and to help prevent burnout by maintaining the balance between work and home life. Something many companies should be cognisant of given recent headlines.

Research has proven time and time again that work emails are a source of stress, adding an estimated $125 and $190 billion dollars per year to US healthcare costs according to researchers at Stanford. Overwork accounted for $48 billion of that.

The French join other enlightened organisations such as Volkswagen who in 2012 blocked all emails to employees’ Blackberries after hours, or Daimler in 2014 who automatically deleted all emails received by employees whilst on holiday.

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