COVID19 proved the toughest for Small and Medium Businesses across the globe. SMB owners struggled to keep their ventures alive and their workforce on the payroll. Here are some of the shocking statistics reported by Facebook's Global State of Small Business Report:
26% of SMBs interviewed reported their closures between January and May 2020
Female-led small businesses were impacted heavily, with a 7% higher closure rate compared to their male counterparts
62% SMBs owners reported lower sales compared to 2019 in the last 30 days
1/3rd of SMBs reduced their workforce due to cost pressures
27% of SMBs were unable to receive any financial support and assistance
74% of SMBs closed during the survey were optimistic about a reopen as lockdowns lifted.
I am passionate about SMBs as they are the real strength of any country, with higher employment rates than any other sector. 2020 proved to be the worst year any SMB owner has ever witnessed and had to go through. Now, with lockdowns getting lifted and the economy slowly opening up, SMB owners need to remain optimistic and blow life back into their ventures. As mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, SMB owners need to take action towards getting back on their feet in 2021.
This blog post will introduce you to 9 key marketing trends that you can leverage for your business in 2021.
Use Your Voice As An SMB Owner
You, as the SMB owner, know your business better than anyone else. You know your origin story, what you and your venture stand for, and your reason for existence. It is time to share that with your audience, and the best way to do that is by using your voice.
You might be thinking - How do I use my voice? By podcasting. Ok, before you roll your eyes on me, hear me out. Podcasting is a medium that has witnessed tremendous growth in recent years. According to the latest statistics, 55% of Americans have listened to a podcast in 2020 compared to 51% in 2019. So it is time for you to get your voice heard as well.
You may ask, how do I do it? It is simple now, with tools available on your smartphone. Check out, Anchor. Anchor is an app that allows you to start and run your podcast from your mobile phone. You can create a new podcast with your branding, interview guests, record your episodes, publish, and even promote it from the app. Let's do this.
Leverage New Social Media Platforms
Social media platforms are fading and cropping up daily now. While Snapchat lost its luster, TikTok took the social media world by storm. The latest kid on the block is Clubhouse. I am hearing individuals are spending around 17 hours on an average on this voice-only social platform. While all these platforms are free to use, every SMB owner like yourself must try leveraging their audience.
Your first goal is to build your own community on these new platforms. Latest statistics say TikTok reported 689 million monthly active users in July 2020, and it is expected to hit 73.7 million more users in the US alone in 2021. As an SMB owner, if your audience is active on platforms like TikTok, you better gear up for that.
One of the biggest SMB TikTok success stories that I follow is Carlos Gil's Outlaw Masks. They have built a community of over 279.7k fans by sharing interesting and unique content. So my recommendation to you is to keep your eyes and ears open towards new social media platforms. Study them, and leverage the best practices to do well, provided your audience is active on them.
Invest Time In Video Marketing
Video Marketing is the next trend I recommend to every SMB owner today. Gone are those days when videos were an expensive affair for the SMB community. With the advent of apps and tools, videos can be easily tackled by anyone. As an SMB owner, I want you to leverage videos for your brand building and promotions.
With tools like Animoto, Lumen5, Canva, and Loom available, now everyone can produce videos for their brand goals. Take these tools for a spin and identify ways to put videos to work for your business. Some of the ideas for videos are:
Social Media Posts
P.S: None of these tools are super expensive to burn a hole in your pocket
Make Use Of Messengers For Communication
Communicating with your customers or prospects via their desired platform was always a must, but now it has become imperative. With your audience working from home and spending more time indoors, they will appreciate your business being available to them whenever they need you. These can be quick questions on products, delivery issues, return policies, etc.
Make sure you have all messenger apps on your radar this year - be it Facebook Messenger or Instagram DMs, or WhatsApp Business. Be available on these messengers and let your customers know that you are available for them whenever they need you. Having the mobile apps on your smartphone can come in handy if you want to handle these queries on the go.
Don't Leave Innovative Features Of Social Networks
I already spoke about the new social media platforms and how you should leverage those. But the existing ones like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn also keep bringing innovative features, that one must make use of. For example, while Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn have stories, Twitter has fleets. You can study other brands using these features in innovative ways and emulate them.
You should pay attention to the innovative and new features every social media channel brings. Make a plan to utilize these features to publish content for your audience. Use stories to share your latest offers, showcase behind the scenes, customer testimonials, and more.
Make Livestreaming Your Forte
I recently launched a live stream show called The SMB Talks, where I interview amazing individuals who have a story to tell. My advice here is if I can do it, you can as well. Every social media platform (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter) has a live streaming feature available that you must use for your brand.
Make it a practice to go live with interesting stories about you, your brand, and your community. You can do this via regularly scheduled sessions or even random ones. Make sure your audience gets to see the real people behind the business they transact with. Trust me, only the SMB owner can say their story perfectly; no one else.
Make Friends With Chatbots
Chatbots was a scary word for small business owners a while ago. Again, with the arrival of tools that can take care of building a chatbot, it need not be a far-fetched thing for you. Every consumer today wants instant answers to their queries, and as you have only limited time in a day, it is a good practice to deploy bots for handling customer queries. These chatbots can be programmed to answer the common queries your business ideally receives like pricing, delivery times, discounts, etc.
You can now use tools like Tawk.to and Hubspot, to build "free" chatbots for your website to address customer queries. The best part of these tools is that you can answer customer queries via your mobile phone. How about that for keeping customers delighted on the go? There are Facebook Messenger chatbots as well for your business if that is your communication channel.
P.S: Make sure you understand the workflow of these tools well before building and implementing the chatbots.
Make Shoppable Ads Your Secret Weapon
I am not a big fan of recommending digital ads to SMB owners as it is a never-ending process to burn cash for growing the business. But the latest trends suggest digital advertising is one of the main marketing tactics for SMBs across the globe. If you are utilizing digital ads via Facebook and Instagram, I would like to recommend you to take a closer look at shoppable ads.
Shoppable ads are ads with product tags that will help your audience to find more details about the product with ease. By clicking on them, your prospects can visit your website and complete the purchase. If you are a US-based business, the purchases can happen via the app itself. For Facebook, you can set up product catalogs and run ads for specific products.
P.S: Understand how these ads work before you launch your shopping campaigns
Search Engine Optimization Still Rules
We are in 2021, but search engine optimization still rules the world of marketing. The latest statistics show that 46% of all Google searches pertain to a local business or service, and 28% of local searches end in a purchase. How cool is that for your small and medium business? So the last trend I would like to bring to your attention is Search Engine Optimization.
Make sure you invest time and effort in improving your website from an SEO perspective. Focus on boosting your local SEO by maintaining a professional Google My Business Account, getting regular reviews from customers, getting some local news coverage, and maintaining an optimized website even for mobile.
P.S: Local SEO efforts can help you reap benefits in the long term as well.
So, here are the marketing trends that you, as an SMB owner, must take note of and focus on in 2021. I haven't included content as a trend here as that is a given factor for boosting your brand's presence and growth. Always prepare content to educate, entertain, and enthrall your audience.
I wish you a prosperous 2021, and may your business reach new heights this year. If you need any help in your journey, I am always available for a chat, and you can find me here.