A new year is upon us, and like every year, every entrepreneur would have completed their goalsetting exercise for the year and the next decade ahead. If you are a small business owner, you will understand the importance of goal setting as it helps in tackling the challenges head-on. One of the statistics which caught my attention recently was that about 5.4k small businesses are started each month and they employ more than 57 million people in the US.
Just take a moment to wrap your head around those numbers. Mind-boggling right? Yes, indeed. Every small business owner faces their share of challenges while running the show day to day basis, marketing being one the biggest. With 47% of business owners manage their marketing by themselves for lead generation and managing customer relationships, it is one of the toughest challenges faced by them.
But before we go all doom and gloom, there have been several developments in the arena of marketing which has evolved as a boon for every small business owner. Without the big fact pockets and workforce, as enterprises do, every small business owner needs to roll up their sleeves and run the show. Well, here are some of the latest and still helpful marketing trends which I believe every small business owner should get their hands dirty with.
Video Marketing for Impact
With 64% of consumers reporting that brand videos on social channels influence their purchase decisions, it is the right time for small businesses to kick off their video marketing journey, in case they haven't already. Small business owners should leverage videos to tell their stories authentically to boost their impact. Before you start worrying about the high costs involved with video production, let me stop you right there. Recent years have given us some smart and cost-effective tools for creating awesome videos for storytelling.
As an entrepreneur, it is time for you to leverage these tools to create videos that connect with your audience and builds trust. These videos can be social media videos, video ads, blog posts as videos, entertaining videos or even educational how-to videos. The best example of how entrepreneurs can leverage videos for creating an impact is John Kapos aka Chocolate Johnny. I highly recommend visiting his website and social media channels for some inspiration for your journey.
Livestreaming for Storytelling
It is reported that 92% of video viewers on mobile tend to share it with others. With all the social media channels growing at an unprecedented rate, it is a blessing for every small business owner to be able to make use of these platforms and their innovative features. One of the best features of almost every social media network is the live streaming functionality which allows you to go live from anywhere and anytime.
Every small business owner should use live streaming to tell their brand's story to connect with the right audience. With live video sessions, it is much easier to showcase the "human" side of your brand by highlighting the people behind the brand, their voices, and the behind the scene activities. Be it for special announcements or events or a weekly scheduled live show, every small business owner should consider live streaming as a viable option for telling their story.
Note: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even LinkedIn allows live streaming nowadays.
Social Messaging for Customer Service
Are you catering to baby boomers or millennials or gen X? Whoever it is, they are all active social media users these days. The latest statistics say 90.4% of millennials, 77.5% of generation X, and 48.2% of baby boomers are active on one or the other social media network. And they all expect your brand is to serve them at their preferred platform at their preferred time.
How do you make that possible? Social Messaging.
Social Messaging like Facebook Messenger or Instagram DM or WhatsApp can help you stay connected with your audience. As a small business owner, it is time for you to put these tools to work to become a customer-centric brand. Start using Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp for Business as your channels of communication as these can help in addressing customer concerns almost real-time.
Note: Make sure to keep your notifications on and be as responsive to customer queries to build a reputation that will do wonders for your business.
Influencer Marketing for Building Credibility
Influencer marketing was a term reserved for big brands who could afford celebrities and other famous personalities to endorse the brand up until recently. With the arrival of micro and nano influencers, now you as a small business owner can also tap into this tactic to get the word around and boost your credibility. To ensure this tactic to work for your business, make sure you identify your goals, choose the right influencer based on location and their area of influence, and work with transparency.
For example, if you run a Virtual Assistant agency or firm, collaborating with a social media influencer who endorses your support for managing his social media can drive the right attention from his/her audience. Make sure you select the right influencer who engages with his/her audience and keep your budgets low while starting off.
Note: There are influencer marketing platforms that help you in identifying the right ones for your campaign. Or even you can use the social platform's search functionality for finding the right ones by searching for your keyword of interest.
List Building via Content for Community
As every Inbound Marketer knows, your mailing list is your biggest asset. Similarly, as a small business owner, you also should focus and invest your efforts in building an email list of prospects and customers. This list will help you build and nurture relationships with your audience and sell more to them when the time is right.
So how do you build a list? By providing value to your audience in exchange for their email address and other personal information. Be it email or your Facebook page or Twitter profile, always focus on building a community and providing them with value. Always remember for building list, you need to make it easy for them to sign up and ask them to join the list.
Note: Focus on creating artifacts of value like giveaways, eBooks, infographics, etc. to provide to your audience for list building.
Lifecycle Email Marketing for Nurturing
Statistics show that $1 spent on email marketing brings about $44 in return. How cool is that? As a small business owner, you cannot stay away from email marketing anymore. Lifecycle emails sent to your list can bring in good results for your business. These include emails sent during your customer's special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, etc., sale seasons, festivals like Christmas, during events like cart abandonment, etc.
Emails are the best platform for nurturing your audience and improving customer relationships. And you want to know the best part - all this can be automated. There are email marketing tools available now which will help you send out emails based on events, actions, or even attributes of your audience.
Note: Check out tools like Mailchimp, MailerLite, Klenty, and Mailshake for designing your email marketing program. The goal here is to share the right information with the right person at the right time.
Blogger Outreach for Reach Building
Similar to Influencer Marketing, another tactic that you can leverage as a small business owner is Blogger Outreach. This will help you increase the reach of your brand and gain more attention.
How does it work? As a business owner, you identify bloggers who cover topics in your business area, connect with them, and reach out to them to gain a mention of your business in the right articles or posts of theirs. For example, you own a Bed & Breakfast in Utah for travelers. You can identify the right travel bloggers in your area or in the country and reach out to them for covering your BnB in one of their articles. This is always a symbiotic relationship where you need to understand their audience and their needs as well.
Basic SEO for Google Love
No business owner can stay away from creating content for marketing their business nowadays. With content, one needs to understand how the search engines work and search engine optimization to improve the discoverability of their content. I am not asking you to learn and be an expert (do it if that interests you), but a basic understanding of SEO will help you immensely.
What you should know? When it comes to SEO, as a business owner, you should understand
How SEO worksWhat are keywords? How to do keyword research for your business?How to use the keywords in your content in the right fashion?What are long-tail keywords?
Note: Use tools like Uber Suggest and Google Keyword Planner for handling SEO for your venture.
Social Media Experiments to Stand Out
Another key trend you cannot ignore as an entrepreneur is the proliferation of social media platforms. In the last decade, we saw several platforms birthing and dying with examples like Google Plus, Meerkat, and Vine. While several channels vanished, numerous new ones came into our lives and were successful in building an audience. Examples include Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram.
As a small business owner, I recommend you to conduct experiments with the new channels which crop up. Invest some time in understanding the network and how it works so that if your target audience is active on them, you can focus on it to build your community on them.
How SEO worksWhat are keywords? How to do keyword research for your business? How to use the keywords in your content in the right fashion? What are long-tail keywords??
Note: TikTok boasts 26.5% of its 500 million monthly active users are from the US. Can you understand the impact of your presence on such platforms?
Technology for Improving Efficiency
Ok, here it comes. I kept the largest beast in today's marketing world for the last - Technology. If you interact with any modern marketer, the conversation will touch upon technology like AI, Machine Learning, etc. very quickly. For small business owners, technology can be a distant dream with heavy price tags and lack of manpower. Having said that, there are multiple technology tools that every small business entrepreneur should take note of and adopt for their venture.
Let's discuss some of them - Chatbots and Martech platforms. Chatbots can help you handle your customer queries 24/7 and without human intervention. With new tools arriving, it is much easier for brands to build and deploy intuitive chatbots on their website. Another important set of tools that every small business owner should look into is Marketing Technology platforms. One of the best tools which you can leverage is a marketing automation platform for running your marketing activities seamlessly.
So here are the 10 marketing trends which you should adopt for your small business. Most of them are easy to get started with and some of them will have a small learning curve. But with persistence and consistent efforts, your marketing tactics will bring in the right results for your brand. Good luck with an awesome 2020.