2023 certainly left a lot of heads spinning. With an economy that couldn’t make up its mind, staggering technological advances, and a bevy of natural disasters, business leaders everywhere are left to make sense of the year that was.
Our pal Marcus Sheridan put together a whole series of predictions about what’s ahead for marketing, sales, and customer service teams. You can find that full post here.
But our purpose here is different: not to look ahead, but to look back.
‘The lessons I learned in 2023’
I asked 10 industry luminaries to share their biggest lessons from the wild, uncertain, and rollercoaster year of 2023.
Here they are, in their own words.
Rachel Cossar: CEO and co-founder, Virtual Sapiens
Beware of buzzwords and trends.
Ask the deeper questions and get to the root of what will actually drive impact. In the example of AI — what is AI actually? And what is it not?
In asking this question we avoid senseless ‘AI’ upcharges contributing to noisy tech and data, and instead get to be on the cutting edge of using this technology for real impact.
Jason Simms: Principal, Theirsay
It’s a long game.
This year I signed a client I was first introduced to in 2016. I also hired my mentor from my first journalism job 18 years ago. I reconnected with multiple editors I hadn’t worked with in 5+ years and successfully placed clients with them.
The seeds you’re planting now may sprout right away. Or you may harvest them years down the line. Or both.
It’s somewhat out of your hands. But keep going, keep networking, keep planting, even when it seems like nothing is growing. Keep connections alive and remain open to new chapters in those relationships.
Marcus Sheridan: ‘Pool guy’, author of They Ask, You Answer
Strike while the iron is hot.
Don’t wait until something is well established by the masses before you start learning about it and utilizing it.
Whether it’s short-form video, AI, or anything else — it’s critical to get in the sandbox and experiment as much as you can because the world is changing fast.
Andy Crestodina: CMO and co-founder, Orbit Media Studios
Have a growth mindset.
In 20+ years in digital, I’ve never seen a year with more disruption than 2023. Probably, this year (certainly this decade) will be forever marked as a turning point in history.
In this moment, it’s the marketers who embrace change that are thriving. They’re getting comfy with GA4 and trying new things with AI. They experiment and adapt. They see opportunity where others resist or wait.
AI is a personality test for all of us and we all end up in one of three categories: waiters, haters, or updaters.
Waiters: “Probably a better tool will come out soon. Or tools I use will catch up. I’ll wait for things to settle down and then try it out.”
Haters: “Artificial intelligence is inaccurate, biased, and bad for jobs. I’ll resist it until the bitter end.”
Updaters: “Learning to use AI is important for the future and I need to add this to my skillset. Learning it quickly will give me an edge.”
Which type of marketer are you? Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?
Rob Leighton: Executive director and founder, iMission
I’ve gained a greater understanding of and appreciation for human and organizational development.
This is an underappreciated aspect of technology adoption and ongoing innovation.
Moby Siddique: CEO, RedPandas Digital
The amount of content a brand has to put out in this new attention economy is grossly under-calculated.
Couple that with the fact content brands do create isn’t being extended, transposed, and reused as much as it could be.
Are you producing the content your audience is craving?
Dave Martin: VP of marketing, CharityEngine
Stick to your guns and organic traffic will follow.
We’ve grown from 900 organic traffic sessions in January to over 2,200 in October by following the They Ask, You Answer principles and focusing on technical SEO.
More importantly, our SQLs from organic traffic have increased 5X.
When people in other areas of the organization doubt the process, don’t lose faith. Keep creating content that answers the typical questions your buyers are asking in the buyer’s journey.
But it does take time — for us over 12 months before we started to see the growth materialize. Also, make sure you have a great Content Manager/Director who writes well!
Will Smith: HubSpot certified trainer, IMPACT
Start with what you know and build knowledge by branching out from there.
I learned this lesson from the explosion of AI tools in 2023.
Like many, I was overwhelmed by the many tools that were developed daily in the AI space. I tried to keep track of the best of the best, and how to use them, but was easily overwhelmed by the amount and complexity.
As a HubSpot Certified Trainer, once HubSpot came out with its set of AI tools, I started mastering these first. I was able to skill-up quickly and branched out to other tools, using what I learned from a tool I was already familiar with.
Kendra Fortmeyer: Content Marketing Manager, CS DISCO
Instead of asking yourself, “Can I do it?” ask, “How can I do it?”
This simple word — “how” — turns the potentially impossible into a problem you can solve. I learned this through rock climbing.
The day I stopped thinking, “Can I climb it?” and instead, “*How* can I climb it?” was the day I stopped letting fear keep me on the ground.
Stephanie Baiocchi: Senior Director of Membership, IMPACT
Your connections and relationships with people continue to be the most important thing regardless of your role or industry.
As technology continues to evolve rapidly we have both the ability to connect with more people than ever before and the risk of those connections being very surface-level.
Dig deeper, get to know people, and take care of each other. We’re more connected than we’ve ever been but we’re lacking closeness and depth in our relationships. But those relationships are what will matter even when technology threatens our humanity.
Putting a bow on 2023
So there you have it. 10 people, 10 lessons.
What do you make of the year that was? How are you girding yourself for 2024? Are you poised for a breakout year, or are you wary of what’s to come? If you’re not sure that your sales, marketing, or GTM plan is making the grade, reach out to us at IMPACT. We coach businesses just like yours to build a brighter future.