I was ready to knock out my gym-resolution workout while thinking about tonight’s diet-resolution dinner when the idea of this blog jumped into my head.

Resolutions are a rallying cry to unite for a common cause ― and we love a common cause. We love the notion that a calendar-date change inspires millions to sign a contract with themselves. To resolve to do something ― something that gives them meaning or hope or inspiration or a new chapter to look forward to. Deciding to sign up for the gym and committing to eating a salad every day starting on October 17 just doesn’t have the same vibe as doing it on January 1.

But as I sit in this gym without a sweat on day two of my seven-day free membership, rather than faking that I’ve been coming here for years I’m inspired to jot down a few resolutions on a topic I’m familiar with: Commerce and marketing. Here are three resolutions I’m making for 2023:

1. I resolve to avoid using marketing jargon for the sake of superficial validation.

We’ve heard it ― and used it ― all. Some of you probably play bingo to it. But can we all simply resolve to stop with the jargon and cut to the chase? In commerce, our goal is to help sell stuff in the most effective and efficient way possible. Saying we’re using “big data” when you’re using an Excel chart with a pivot table doesn’t make us sound smarter; it shows we’ve lost sight of the greater good. What’s my “retail media strategy”? It’s a media strategy that drives more sales that happens on the retail side.

2. I resolve to not drink the Kool-Aid (although I do love a nice glass of cold grape Kool-Aid every now and then . . . Oooooooh yeah) and manufacture a controversy that only exists in headlines.

How many year-end summaries ― not the one Spotify sends to tell you Dire Straits and Disney songs were your most played — included “The Death of E-Commerce?” Having declined in year-over-year growth, 2022 e-commerce sales still closed in on $1 trillion for the first time and are expected to top that figure next year. The spin, though, has been that the drop in annual growth signals that everyone is going back to shopping in stores. Is there truth to that? Some. But we won’t see a seismic shift back to pre-pandemic levels. Marketers, pundits and “experts” love to proclaim someone or something is better than the other. The notion of coexistence doesn’t make for a good debate. YouTube = The Death of TV. Amazon = The Death of Brick-and-Mortar Retail. Uber = The Death of Taxis. Airbnb = The Death of Hotels. Why does everything have to be binary? Have you engaged in two services, one an incumbent and one a shiny, new upstart? Do you think Amazon employees only shop at Amazon? Do you only book Airbnbs? Or do you look for what fits your needs in the moment? Options create a very healthy competitive landscape that benefits the end user. Singular solutions don’t.

3. I resolve to not get swept up in the data tidal wave and will allow myself to be human and have human emotions.

Great marketing is an art and a science. Let’s all agree data drives incredible insights, mitigates risk and gives confidence in success. But in 2023, let’s also agree that data shouldn’t be the only factor when making decisions. I’m not an anti-data person, but I believe we’ve gotten so caught up in the definitiveness of data to drive our decisions that we’ve lost some of the art in our decision-making. We’ve put audiences into pods: shops on Mondays, doesn’t buy canned goods, uses own multiuse bags, drives a sedan, has two kids, lives in a condo and watches ev-er-y episode of “Law & Order.” And our data shows there are 5.5 million of these people scattered throughout the U.S., but they’re concentrated between Boise and Cleveland, and we should target them with creative that speaks to how condo living is better than owning a house and how shopping is like solving a murder ― and we need to do this on Mondays at 9 a.m. CT. A contextual understanding of a group of shoppers helps us tap their interest but converting them relies on many factors unique to each individual, including price, need state, brand loyalty and more. The art evokes an emotion, the science delivers an advantage. It’s not either/or.

Those are my three resolutions for commerce. Why three? Because I subscribe to Bob Iger’s “Rule of Three” when setting priorities: the more you have, the less focused time and resources are placed on each. But, if you’re an overachiever, here are two more resolutions we should all consider:

1. Stop treating retail media networks as the newest “it” thing.

I say this as a person who heads up an agency that strongly supports and closely partners with RMNs. They’re extremely valuable and important to brands’ ability to sell and grow. But in their purest form, they’re media. They happen to be deeply connected to and close to the end goal of sales, which is why they’re so important to every brand’s marketing strategy. But they aren’t the sole driver of growth. How you invest in them and use them matter.

2. Remember the basics.

Most aren’t sexy, but they’re all effective. The wrong digital shelf strategy and faulty execution can result in a 10% negative swing in conversion. One word in a headline can be the difference in showing up in front of 5,000 search queries or 20,000. Year-over-year comps don’t tell the whole story and comparing dollar sales and volume against an unprecedented year is a losing battle. We went through this the first year of COVID and we’re facing the same with the impact of inflation and pricing actions. Find a measure and set goals that manage expectations, acknowledge anomalies and won’t send a false positive message ― then align on those.

I’ve got dozens more resolutions to rattle off, but I’ve now sat on this weight bench with only 1,008 words written to show for it, have seen a staff shift change and been subject to several very angry resolutioners on the same seven-day trial waiting to use this bench, who out of frustration abandoned their resolution and immediately signed up for the Disney+ seven-day trial.

Let’s make it a great 2023.

Victor Lee
Advantage Unified Commerce

Victor Lee is a preeminent builder of brand-loyal global audiences and driver of innovation. He leads Advantage Unified Commerce, an Advantage Solutions omnicommerce agency. Previously he served as chief marketing officer for Kin Insurance, led marketing for RX Bar and Hasbro, and held senior roles at Digitas.

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