Since I'm sure you managed to check all of your 2013 resolutions off your list, it's time to re-up for the new year. After all, as marketers, taking stock of our professional lives and ambitions on a regular basis is nearly as important as taking stock of ourselves personally. A lot changes in our industry from year to year, and if you don't periodically re-chart your path, you'll wake up one morning to discover you've been left behind.
Here are the resolutions that we as marketers should be making for 2014.
Resolution 1: I will explore native advertising opportunities.
If you're not familiar with the term "native advertising," then you simply didn't open a single industry publication in 2013. (Shame on you.) But assuming that's not the case, then you know that native advertising -- whether you consider it something truly new or not -- is the latest hotness. And for good reason, given that many contend native advertising might be the cure for banner blindness.
Over the past six months, the industry has come a long way in defining and legitimizing the practice of native advertising. As such, more and more publishers are rolling out new options in this realm. Do yourself a favor and read up on them.
Resolution 2: I will hire a journalist.
First off, hiring a journalist is just a nice thing to do. It's tough out there. But more importantly, it's a valuable play for brands and agencies at this moment in time, given the rise in content marketing and native advertising spending.
I know what you're thinking. "I'm a pretty fair writer myself." I'm sure you are. But how long has it been since you tried to write something that, beneath the surface, wasn't simply trying to sell something? If you can't recall, then it's been a long time. And try as we might, it's hard to get out of that marketing mindset and truly focus on delivering valuable content to an audience. A journalist can help you with that.
Resolution 3: I will plan for a cookie-less world.
I'm sorry. You don't really have a choice on this one. You have to envision a world in which the beloved cookie has died, and you need to choose and plan your partnerships wisely in that regard. Browsers are continuing to lean toward default "do not track" settings. And you know the situation is serious when Google starts seriously exploring an alternative to cookies. Prepare now.
Resolution 4: I will eliminate at least three marketing buzzwords from my daily speech.
Put this resolution on both your professional and personal lists. Because both your colleagues and friends and family will thank you for it. If you're constantly talking about "gamifying" the "second-screen experience" in hopes of "boosting engagement" while enabling "superior attribution" -- just stop. I know it's hard. You might not even hear how annoying some of these phrases (and many, many others) are anymore because we all do it.
So take a moment and reflect on your own professional vocabulary. Pick out the words you overuse. (Better yet, ask your co-worker or spouse to honestly do this assessment for you.) Then focus on eliminating those words from your speech over the next 12 months. It will force you to broaden your use of language, which in turn you might find broadens your overall thinking on certain subjects.
Resolution 5: I will re-evaluate the ad options on social.
The social advertising landscape has changed dramatically over the past year. Both Tumblr and Instagram have recently entered the playing field and are slowly finding their way. Twitter continues to refine its ad options. So if you haven't kept up and planned some experiments, now is a good time to take stock and identify the new opportunities that make sense for your brand or clients.
Resolution 6: I will launch a brand initiative that makes me proud.
I'm not talking about a brand marketing initiative that sells a crap-ton of whatever it is that you sell. That might make you proud as a marketer. But I'm talking about launching an initiative that makes you proud as a human being. I've touched on this before, but it's worth reiterating. In a world where good corporate citizenship is becoming an expectation among brands, you'll find that doing something that betters the world instead of just the bottom line will make you enjoy your job a heck of a lot more. Oh, and guess what -- it probably will better your bottom line too. That's how this works. It's a win-win, and such initiatives often start or end (or both) in the marketing department. So rejoice in the fact that you can make the world a better place and keep doing your job.
Resolution 7: I will shut down a social media account.
Whether it's a personal account or a brand social media account, turn one off. Pretend like someone has put a gun to your head and is making you do it. Choose the one of least value to you and shut it down. More than likely, after you pull the plug, you (and/or the brand) won't miss it. Because you've probably been neglecting it anyway. And now, not only do you not have to feel guilty about that neglect, but you also have likely freed up a bit of time (provided you ever even looked at that account) to focus on something more valuable. Such as...
Resolution 8: I will open a new social media account.
I know this seems like it flies in the face of the previous resolution, but hang with me here. Now that you've de-cluttered your social (networking) life a little bit, take the opportunity to do a little exploration. If you haven't yet, make a Vine or put up a board on Pinterest. Better yet, if possible, get even more niche based on the consumers you really care about. (Looking to connect with knitting enthusiasts? Ravelry is for you!)
Whether it's a personal or professional account, test out a platform you're not currently on and see what opportunities it might hold. If the answer is "seemingly none," then refer to the previous resolution sooner rather than later.
Resolution 9: I will stop taking myself so seriously.
You can lump this one into the "personally useful" bucket as well, but I find that marketers need to hear this advice as much or more than everyone else. Yes, marketing is serious business. We hold the success of brands in the palms of our hands. Sometimes we control millions, if not billions, of dollars. We can't just goof around all the time.
That said, you don't work in a cancer ward for puppies. You can find levity in your job, even if you're all business at the conference room table. So tell a fart joke once in a while. Better yet, include one in a campaign.
Resolution 10: I will stop writing emails that are longer than they need to be.
Or articles, for that matter.
"Business man checking off check boxes with cityscape," image via Shutterstock.