In today’s crowded, competitive business world, the importance of marketing cannot be underestimated. This is especially true for small businesses, whose success or failure often depends entirely on the effectiveness of their marketing strategies.
Faced with increasing competition, and impacted by factors out of their control (such as the economy), small businesses are directing more and more of their efforts into marketing. The marketing situation is different for small businesses, compared to bigger corporations. In fact, small businesses are often able to take greater advantage of technology such as mobile apps to maintain efficient, cost-effective marketing strategies.
A recent survey by email marketing service Constant Contact has shown that small businesses are undertaking marketing efforts as often as they possibly can. The survey also revealed that these increased marketing efforts have led to higher expected revenues, and that small business owners are now directing their sights to a number of future marketing trends.
Let’s take a look at eight of those top marketing trends – all of which are expected to have an impact on the future of small business.
- Video streaming
In the Constant Contact survey, 51 percent of responders identified video streaming as something they expect to impact the future of small business marketing. And we think they’re right on the money.
Lately, you may have noticed a proliferation of video content on Facebook and other online platforms. There’s a reason for this: consumers are responding well to video. Video streaming is an effective way to reach your market, and a great video can help you stand out from your competition.
- The internet of things
The ‘internet of things’ refers to the integration of physical devices and computer-based systems. Basically, anything with the word ‘smart’ before it can be considered part of the internet of things: smart phones, smart homes (app-controlled heating, lighting etc.), smart traffic control – even things like smart fridges are coming into play!
Small businesses taking advantage of this trend by incorporating services into the internet of things will definitely be ahead of the curve.
- Messaging apps
Instant messaging apps such as Slack, WhatsApp, Adium and Skype, once considered to be for personal use only, are making an impact on small business communication. These types of apps allow for direct channels between businesses and customers, making support and marketing much more effective.
Podcasts – digital audio files available for download, usually to a phone or other device – are enjoying popularity in the business world, as well as the world of entertainment. They’re basically another form of content marketing – one that consumers can utilise while on the go, making them a perfect choice for small businesses wishing to reach busy customers.
- Sharing economy
The sharing economy refers to individuals renting out their assets to other people when they’re not using those assets themselves. Airbnb and Uber are perhaps the best-known examples of successful sharing economy business models. Small business marketers can also utilise this trend by creating a collaborative marketing team to reach a wider audience.
Web-rooming is a process whereby customers conduct product research online, but choose to purchase in-store (offline). Showrooming, on the other hand, is where consumers examine products in-store, then purchase online.
With more and more consumers using both these options to select the best product, small businesses will need to ensure that both their physical and digital showrooms are marketed and presented effectively.
- Big data
Big data refers to very large data sets that can be analysed, usually by computer systems, to reveal patterns and trends in consumer engagement and behaviour. Thanks to digital advances, this kind of data, once used only by the largest corporations, can now be utilised more easily by small businesses to provide insights into their consumers and improve their marketing strategies.
Crowdfunding – sourcing consumer funds to develop a product or service – has seen a huge surge in popularity in recent years. Effective campaigns can generate great word-of-mouth marketing and result in successful, cost-effective development for small businesses.
Small business owners, be sure to investigate some of these trends further. You’ll be sure to find ways to keep your marketing strategies well ahead of the competition!