2014 Marketing Trends for Small Business

As 2013 winds down, we not only look backward to take stock of all that has happened, but also begin to look forward to the new year and all that awaits us. It’s a time to celebrate accomplishments, learn from mistakes, and set goals for 2014. You may already be done with the bulk of your business planning for next year. However, there’s still time to nail down a marketing strategy that will set you up for success. Here are 6 key trends to be thinking about as you develop your plan.

Trend 1: Visual Marketing

People in the social media industry have been talking about the merits of visual marketing for the past few years. In 2014, it’s primed to take center stage. If you’re not already incorporating images and videos into your social media channels and marketing campaigns, now is the time to try your hand at visual content.

Trend 2: Inbound Marketing

Historically, businesses have focused their marketing efforts on outbound marketing—that is, marketing efforts aimed at a large audience with the goal of converting a small percentage to paying customers. Examples of outbound techniques include advertising, trade show attendance, purchased email lists, and cold calling.

In recent years, marketing has been shifting away from a traditional outbound model to an inbound model, which focuses on helping your business get found by people already interested in your industry. This type of marketing aims to make your business visible on search engines, social media, blogs, and listings sites as you create and share compelling content for consumers to interact with.

In 2014, the shift away from outbound marketing to inbound will be even more pronounced. Make sure to budget for the time, personnel, and money needed to invest in developing solid inbound channels.

Trend 3: Mobile Marketing

In October, we discussed the growth in mobile device usage for local search and mistakes to avoid when developing mobile marketing campaigns. Numerous studies conducted in the past year all point to the importance of mobile search for local businesses. If you’re not already present on mobile, make sure to plan for it in 2014! (Pro tip: SinglePlatform can help you with this.)

Trend 4: Brand Authority

In today’s saturated market, it’s not enough to merely say that your business provides products or services worth using—it’s up to the business owner to prove their brand’s authority over time.

This process is not something that happens overnight. It involves investing in a number of areas, including messaging, service, and content. We’ll cover the specifics of how to build brand authority in another post later this month.

Trend 5: Personalization

In November, we covered a few different ways that you can personalize your communications. Personalization is hot right now, and will remain so in the new year. This ties in with the aforementioned inbound marketing and brand authority trends. Today’s consumers want to interact with businesses that are relevant, engaging, trustworthy, and include a human element in their business marketing.

Trend 6: Less Is More

Consumers deal with a growing amount of virtual noise every day. As a small business, you may be tempted to try and stand out from the crowd by being bigger, more extravagant, and flashier when it comes to marketing. But the success of campaigns from Apple, Google, and other major brands has shown that simplicity is often the best tactic when it comes to messaging.

The Bottom Line

There’s no secret formula when it comes to creating a successful marketing plan. However, it is important to incorporate current trends into your efforts to make sure your time, effort, and budget are spent wisely.

Have specific questions or exciting ideas when it comes to small business marketing? Share them in the comments!

Holidays in the Food Biz: December Edition

It’s December, which means that the holiday travel, shopping, and feasting season is in full swing. For small businesses in the food industry, the resulting increase in store visits and orders in the last month of the year is cause for rejoicing. But during the hectic season, it can be difficult to think of interesting ways to draw in new patrons and engage existing customers.
SinglePlatform’s small businesses in the food industry have taken advantage of the holidays in a variety of ways to boost their business, reward their consumers, and give back to the community. Here are a few marketing ideas to consider for your own business:

Holiday Gift Cards

Beyond encouraging customers to dine with you or make purchases during the month of December, you can also encourage business in the new year with holiday gift cards. Many SinglePlatform clients promote gift cards as a stocking stuffer or last-minute gift idea.

Host Holiday Parties and Meals

Help alleviate your customers’ holiday hosting stress by opening your doors for large group parties and meals. You can:

  • rent out your entire establishment for private events, or accommodate smaller gatherings with reserved rooms
  • offer special menus for pre-holiday, post-holiday, and day-of holiday dining
  • or even, as one of our more creative clients did, host an “ugly Christmas sweater” party to get some use out of previously neglected gifts and keep the festivities going through to the start of the new year

Holiday Crafts

Even those people who aren’t ordinarily inclined toward craftiness get into the DIY spirit around the holidays. A few of our local businesses have hosted in-store craft events for adults and kids alike.

Donations to a Local Charity

Several of SinglePlatform’s clients participated in donation drives of toys, canned goods, and other items to benefit their local communities. This is a great way to give back to those in need during the holidays, and an easy way to contribute positively to your brand’s image.

The Bottom Line

However you choose to market your business during the holidays, make sure it’s meaningful for your customers and your community, in addition to being meaningful for you.