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Business Observer Monday, Aug. 1, 2022 6 days ago

Marketing industry veteran weighs in on current trends — and what's to come

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Priority Marketing might have grown up with a fax machine, but to keep up with the latest in the industry, the firm has adapted.
by: Amanda Postma Sarasota-Manatee Editor

As a 38-year marketing expert, Teri Hansen has seen a lot of change. Especially in technology. 

After quitting a corporate job with Westinghouse Communities, which no longer exists, Hansen took the couple thousand dollars she had in savings in 1992 and purchased a computer, fax machine, filing cabinet and cellphone. That's when Priority Marketing was established. 

Back then, the technology the Fort Myers-based firm was using looked a bit different. 

"The fax machine was the revolutionary technology," she says of the time. Now, 50 employees later, the firm tries to keep up with technology that changes on a weekly basis. 

 

What are some of the challenges of owning a marketing firm? 

Owning a business is having the wisdom to understand the right timing and pace at which to grow the company, expand operations and add people. I didn’t have any investors when I started the company. I was completely self-funded. So I don’t ever want to outpace or pace too quickly to where that causes difficulty on the operation. 

From a marketing standpoint, the challenge is always keeping up on new programs, equipment or software. What do we need to invest in to be able to serve our clients best? In marketing, with so many things being technology driven today, it’s changing so rapidly. 

It’s interesting because when I started my career in 1984, we didn’t have voicemail, cell phones or computers. There was no such thing as emails. That’s where I started my career. We used a typewriter. You mailed press releases through snail mail or you drove them to the medium. We had pink slips of voice messages because nobody had voicemail. Now every single week there’s something new. I’ve seen this amazing evolution and progression in just 38 short years. 

 

How do you keep up with the trends? 

Reading a lot and (having) amazing team members who have oversight of responsibilities. We have department heads who regularly are sharing with the team what’s new with social media, changes that have just occurred, or implementation of (new) platforms. No one person is charged with the responsibility of (keeping up) on everything. 

 

What do you read? 

A lot of news products actually. I don’t read fiction. I read a lot of nonfiction, business-type books. But really more contemporary, current events, political commentary, podcasts and industry news. But no fiction. 

 

What kind of trends are you seeing in the branding and marketing industry right now? 

There’s been a lot of growth and expansion over the past 10 years in social media, but a lot of newer developments are happening with some of the platforms, especially how they pertain to business. When social media started, it was for personal reasons. Then businesses began to fold into those platforms. Today, the social platforms are highly effective for businesses. 

One of them, we’ve seen a lot of shifts in the last year or so, is specifically on Instagram and utilizing reels. If you use a reel in your social strategy, your engagement will go up 22%. That’s why social media platforms are prioritizing reels. It’s video content. It’s moving, it’s not static. Reels are really great for highlighting team members and certain FAQs. You can do contests, spotlight new menu items, behind-the-scenes of manufacturing or product development. There’s so many things you can do with it because it’s using video and motion. That really has grown a lot and will continue. 

The other thing that has been added in the last year or so is stories, which you can do on Facebook and Instagram. A lot of people are going to their Facebook or Instagram feeds and all they’re doing is looking across the top and scrolling through stories. They’re not even going in their feed. It’s keeping you from being reliant on these changing algorithms and it increases engagement. 

The other thing that we started seeing is video. When you’re thinking about marketing, content is king. What’s happening is there’s this huge shift in how you continue to create content that people want to consume. A couple years ago, we started seeing this emergence of more demand for video. If you have video on your website, your visitors will spend 88% more time on your website than if they go to a website that’s static with no video. 

Video is what grabs people. That all started with YouTube. So now that’s what people want. It’s the only medium that combines sight, sound, motion and emotion. It’s so powerful, you can tell a story or educate somebody. 

(In) public relations, consumers are looking for thought leadership. You’ll see more and more companies moving away from a strong promotional-style of communication to be educational and position individuals as thought leaders or experts. It’s the credibility piece of it that consumers are looking for. They’re looking for those who will emerge as leaders in their field. 

For Priority Marketing, we started about three years ago producing a weekly video — FAQ Fridays — where we just provide free content that’s educational so people can learn just about anything you’d want to know about marketing, public relations, events, digital and social. Our content is so varied with this whole library that we’re educating people for free because we are the leaders in this industry. 

 

Do you have any predictions for what’s to come? 

I think more digital is coming. So many platforms, technology-driven communication and business solutions are being developed. Just look at, in two years, what’s happened out of necessity to communicate and have meetings. Who would have thought that people would be working all over the country, in multiple locations, communicating only by Zoom or Teams? Who would have predicted that two years ago? We were so accustomed to face-to-face. What that’s done to transition all of us to thinking differently and understanding that there are other ways you can do business and be successful. That’s all technology driven. In terms of what’s to come, I think it will be more of that. 

I think there’s always going to be those that want human contact, but as time continues and people are more accustomed to technology, that will become the norm. I think it will just be the continual development of platforms and technology that will make business easier, better and global. 

With things moving more digital, (data) is the upside to it because there is so much data that you can glean from various platforms and programs. When you’re thinking about marketing budgets, the more data that you can gain, the more targeted and effective your marketing communications efforts can be. The beautiful thing that comes out of technology is this tracking, data and wealth of information that helps us be better in serving our clients. You don’t have to guess. 

Back in the day when I started my career, you ran an ad in the newspaper. Did anyone read it? We don’t know. You couldn’t track anything. Unless they brought the ad in. It really has advanced the power of marketing in my opinion. The power of marketing will only continue to be enhanced by the advances in technology and digital solutions. 

If something is not working, the data tells you that also and you can quit spending your money. Again, that’s the benefit to business and marketing agencies. We don’t want to waste a client’s money. We want them to have success. We want everything we do to be highly effective. And if you’re guessing then how can you be working in the best interest of the client? 

 

Anything else you would like to add? 

Marketing is an investment and you should expect a return. You don’t have to spend a certain amount of money. You don’t have to have a big budget. You can be successful and see a return even with a small investment. 

I think a lot of companies make a mistake when they have to cut expenses and they cut marketing. Every single time when there’s a tendency for businesses to want to contract, businesses that don’t during those times are the ones who see market share gains and advances in their business where others regressed. I’ve seen that so many times in 30 years. 

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