Have you recovered from the avalanche of “2014 forecasts” and “top trends to watch” this year? Every industry has its trends. Every marketing discipline has its trends. Consumers have trends. Economies have trends. Google, Twitter and others have their up-to-the-minute data on what’s “trending.”

It seems like there are more and more trends to track and pay attention to every year. Just searching for “2014 marketing trends” at our friendly neighborhood search engine returned 194,000,000 results. So very many of those trends focus on digital behaviors, social media, online advertising and the like, putting us into a digital panic.

How are we supposed to keep up with them? Which are the most important for our particular businesses?

As marketers in this 24/7/365, always-on, always-connected world, we feel we have to keep up with everything and respond to it all, lest we get left behind. There’s even a trend for that: FOMO (fear of missing out).

A chart from eMarketer last year illustrates this challenge for B2B marketers:

MarketingTrends

The challenge isn’t that the pace of change is overwhelming, it’s that the marketing mix has expanded and the ability to manage and continually refine it (almost daily, in some cases) has complicated our marketing efforts.

Here are three guidelines to help sort through the trends to find the most relevant ones for your business:

1. Know your audience. If you understand who you want to sell to, knowing what is important to them and what their behaviors are makes it easier to market to them. Having a presence on Pinterest may not be required for your business, even though Pinterest is a fast-growing, “trendy” site.
2. Know your abilities. With many companies and agencies, IT departments are stretched thin and resources are tight. Acknowledge that you cannot —and should not — try to do it all. Do the best you can in the areas that are most important to your audience. Which leads to …
3. Prioritize. Not every trend is a priority. Not every digital opportunity can be pursued. Not every customer is a priority customer.

Knowing your audience — your customers — is the key to knowing which trends, digital or otherwise, are the best to pursue.

Better still, don’t try to chase trends … even just a few of the 6,174,938 of them. Set some of your own in 2014 instead!

About Patrick McGill

Patrick McGill is our very own Sherlock Holmes. As the managing director of strategy, Patrick puts his detection skills to work by helping our clients develop successful strategic plans that more effectively communicate with their target audiences. When he’s not immersed in research you’ll more than likely find Patrick traveling – those travels have taken him to all 50 states. You can email our inquisitive Mr. McGill at patrickm@2rm.com.