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!

Treat Your Customers Like People – 4 Tips for Personalization

Offering discounts, rewards, and other special perks has long been a standard marketing tactic to drive new business. But generic offers aren’t as effective as they once were.
According to a Gallup poll administered earlier this year, customers are increasingly underwhelmed—and even annoyed—by generic promotions. 66% of respondents said that offers were too general, 41% were irritated by unwanted offers, and 53% received offers for a product they already used.

The fact is, consumers are being bombarded by so many communications from so many businesses that it’s easy for them to tune out. Luckily, there’s a way to create more meaningful interactions that will get your audience to pay attention—a little personalization is all it takes.

Here are 4 simple ways you can start using personalization to benefit your customers and your business.

1. Personalized Interactions

Making your interactions personal can be as simple as using a customer’s name in an email or while checking out. A more sophisticated kind of personalized interaction might entail using a customer’s previous purchase history or requests to make recommendations during their next transaction or reservation.

2. Personalized Offers

Coupons and discounts are great—but not if they’re for a product or service a customer will never use. Use your customers’ previous purchase history or an online survey to assess what individual customers are interested in. Then you can be sure to create offers that people will be excited to take advantage of.

3. Personalized Loyalty Rewards

Just as with offers, loyalty rewards can be tailored to the interests and needs of specific customers. If someone is buying a latte from your café every day, give them a free latte after their tenth purchase. If someone is buying school shoes for their kids, give a discount on children’s sports shoes. If you don’t have the technology in place to track specific customers’ buying behaviors, surveys are a great way to find out what would be valuable to your audience. You can even ask for some quick feedback during checkout.

4. Personalized Follow-ups

A personalized interaction, either face-to-face or online, will make a great impression with a customer. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to follow up and keep the conversation going. Follow-ups can range from an exit survey after a transaction, a personalized request to follow your social media channels or sign up for your email newsletter, or a simple thank you for visiting your establishment.

The Bottom Line

Personalizing your communications, services, and offers will make customers feel that they individually matter. If customers feel that you care about them for who they are as opposed to what they buy, they will be more motivated to care about your business in return.