The latest statistics show that there are around 30.2 million small businesses in the US alone and 12.3 million of them are owned by women. While the data also says most small businesses survive 5 years or more, every small business owner knows the battle they have to fight. With the arrival of e-commerce and cash-rich startups, it is becoming tougher for these businesses to continue their growth.
Small business owners are characterized by their shortage of manpower or funds for marketing and in most of the cases, the owner himself or herself doubles up as the marketing in charge. If you run a brick and mortar shop in a small neighborhood, you know the pains of getting the attention of the target audience around. Most of the small business owners have already acquainted themselves with various facets of digital marketing like social media and content, it is a tough battle to fight for most of these owners.
But it is not all doom and gloom for small business owners when it comes to Marketing. There are several key trends that they can leverage to build a brand that will make their audience fall in love with. So here are some key trends which small business owners can take note of for 2020 and beyond. Let's go.
1. Be "Smart" with Social Media
Every small business owner needs to understand the power of social media for their business growth. For example, with more than 2.41 billion monthly active users on Facebook, we can vouch that your target audience will be on the network without any doubt. And the best part of social media is that it is "FREE", so you must leverage it for growth.
How can you get "Smart" on social?
It is simple. Make sure you are making use of all of the innovative new features every major social network comes up with. Leverage these new features to showcase your business in the way you want your audience to see. For example, Facebook Stories are an innovative way to showcase your daily offers to your audience or short videos can be an excellent way to grab the attention of your community.
So make sure you are keeping yourself updated with the latest social media innovation and using them to your advantage.
2. Make Video your best "Friend"
Are you using videos in any form for promoting your business? If you answered yes, high five. If not, you need to take videos more seriously as it can be a real game-changer for your venture. Now you might be thinking "Vivek, do you think I have free time to make videos for the promotions?". Well do not worry, I will be tacking that later in this post.
As a small business owner, you need to embrace video as part of your content for promotions. Be it short social media videos or live videos or animated videos, it can help you grab eyeballs. Every social media network has made the job easier for you by bringing features like live videos and native video uploads so that you can do this on the go.
3. Make Technology your CMO
Every small business owner does not have the luxury of affording marketing staff, let alone be a CMO. But do not worry - you now can afford a CMO. You can jump onto the technology bandwagon which has leaped multiple folds over the last decade or so.
Now as a small business owner, you have affordable marketing tools that can act as your marketing team (mostly from your smartphone) and help you reap the right results. From making your business website to social media management to analytics to content creation, everything can be managed from your smartphone now. How lucky are we now?
P.S: Here is a post that will introduce you to some of these tools.
Note: Most of the marketing tools these days come with a "free" plan which will suffice your needs.
4. Piggyback on Influencers easily
Influencers have grown in numbers and the term "influencer marketing" has become a rather abused buzzword these days. Influencers are individuals who have built an engaged following around a specific area or topic. They might have invested heaps of time and effort into building the same.
As a small business owner, why is this something you should take a note of?
Let's go through an example, shall we? Imagine you run a fashion boutique in the city of Fresno. You are planning the launch of a new service which is bespoke suits for men. You can leverage influencer marketing platforms or a simple search on social media or Google to find fashion influencers whose audience comprises of your target audience, i.e, men aged between 20- 55. Once the right influencer is identified, connect and leverage his influence to gain traction towards your new launch.
5. Livestream, Livestream and Livestream some more
Every social media platform useful for small business owners now comes with a live-streaming feature; be it Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Have you leveraged this awesome feature of these networks? Yes - that's great. No - Please read on.
Make sure you include live-streaming into your promotion mix and leverage this to the maximum. Do not get overwhelmed about putting you and your business out there, I believe every small business has a fabulous story to tell. So be authentic to that story and you will witness your audience connecting with you and your brand authentically.
6. Do not ignore EMAIL Marketing
Statistics say that 81% of small businesses use email marketing for customer acquisition which proves the power of this tactic. As a business owner, you should not leave email off the table for your marketing.
As a small business owner, I will recommend you to make use of email marketing for customer acquisition and for relationship nurturing. Make it easier to collect emails from your customers at various touch-points with your business. And use email as a medium to build a loyal following for your brand and make sure you never abuse the medium.
7. Invest "SMART" in paid social media
I am NOT a big fan of spending loads of your hard-earned money on ads on Facebook or Twitter or any other platform. Having said that, there are instances and smart ways to leverage paid avenues of these social media channels to bring in results.
What are the smart ways to leverage paid social media? You need to understand the targeting options available with each social media network because that can make or break the game for your business. Make sure you get your targeting right so that your money gets the right returns. Another factor to keep in mind is the purpose of leveraging these paid ads on networks. You need to clear about the objective behind investing money into paid ads - be it lead generation, driving traffic to your offer landing page, etc.
So, here are some of the marketing trends, I believe, small business owners can take advantage of. My advice to every small business owner will be to stop running away from Marketing; embrace it and believe one thing - "No-one can tell your business's story better than YOU".
As a small business supporter, I have launched The Thrifty Marketer to help small business owners become marketers themselves for their small businesses. Good luck for 2020 and an awesome decade ahead.