Emerging Trends in Marketing: Chasing Yield

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This is the third in a series of posts on long-term things that will impact your marketing environment, from automation to macroeconomic trends. Keep these trends in mind as you craft your marketing strategy!

You’ve likely noticed that an awful lot of things are getting funded these days, from potato salad to apps that say Yo! Billions of dollars in investment are floating around. Why?


You don’t need to be an economist or a statistician to understand what direction this chart is headed. This is the 30 year Treasury bond rate, considered one of the safest investments you can make. Buying a 30 year bond today isn’t even going to beat top-line inflation. Here’s the Federal Funds rate, the rate at which banks borrow money from the US government:


If this were a medical patient, they’d be on their deathbed. Banks are effectively borrowing money nearly for free. That means a lot of surplus cash in the financial system, cash that needs a place to go.

If you’re a fund manager who has a portfolio with a nearly-guaranteed rate of return (such as someone who manages pension funds), you’re feeling a lot of pain. People will be withdrawing from the fund at a faster rate than you can replenish it via earnings from investments and interest. Thus, you go out and chase yield, or make speculative gambles all over the place in order to meet your obligations. If your pension fund promises X% annual return, then you need to take bigger risks than Treasuries or banks to make that return.

What does that mean for you as a marketer? It means there’s a lot of cash in the system at the moment, and thus a lot of highly speculative investments in anything that might even remotely look like a good return on investment. Lots of new marketing tools, social media tools, and advertising tools will receive millions of dollars in funding, even if they don’t necessarily have sound business practices. You’ll often see marketing companies touting recent investments made in them as a sign of confidence from the market. Because of the loose dollars floating around, that’s not necessarily a strong sign of confidence.

If you’re betting your company on one of these tools, make financial inquiries as part of your due diligence. Ask for the equivalent of a prospectus before you hand over all your analytics or social media to a company whose burn rate (the rate at which cash is expended) could put them out of business in a year or less.

On the other hand, if you’re a marketer with a great product idea, now is probably about as good as it’s going to get to start a company, build your product rapidly, and get funding. The well of cash will eventually dry up, so get funding while the funding is there.

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One response to “Emerging Trends in Marketing: Chasing Yield”

  1. jonmikelbailey Avatar

    Fantastic points made here. I think using a tool should be based on it’s value as a service and it’s track record in your industry – not based on its “valuation” or it’s level of “cool.”

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