In this post, our fourth installment, we bring you the very latest in small business marketing wisdom from thought leaders across the web. Enjoy!
1. Trends to watch out for in 2017 …
When it comes to marketing, it pays to stay up to date with the latest trends. In a world where phenomena like Pokémon Go can come sweeping through and transform the marketing landscape in the blink of an eye, it makes sense to do your homework and know what’s coming around the bend.
So aren’t you glad you have us … not to mention Daniel Newman, Forbes contributor of course …. to point you towards the Top 10 Trends Driving Marketing In 2017? We thought so … and p.s …. you’re welcome!
There are admittedly some oldies but goodies in this bundle (the importance of customer experience, anyone?), but also some newer contenders like the coming of age of the Internet of Things or the rise of the chatbots.
It might not be immediately apparent how some of these concepts fit into the average small business marketing strategy, but as they increasingly enter the mainstream, you might be glad you invested the time and effort up front to understand them.
We say: Sometimes staying on top of trends is as much about noticing consistent themes from year to year as it is about giving the nod to the latest flash-in-the-pan. Lists such as these can reveal much about the continuing dominance of some trends in the marketplace year after year while also showcasing the latest and greatest.
Remember, never throw out the baby with the bathwater in your rush to embrace something new and shiny. It’s best to keep a balance between the old and the new. In other words … if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
2. Shopping on auto-pilot
Following on from the new trends theme, it seems that we are poised on the brink of no less than a revolution in the current world marketing order. Or at least it seems that way to Niraj Dawar, a marketing professor and recent contributor to the Harvard Business Review.
In his piece, ‘How Marketing Changes When Shopping is Automated,’ He argues that the contemporary model, in which we see brands having to entice their customers to make active purchase decisions through elaborate advertising, marketing and sales strategies, is becoming rapidly outdated. In its place will be systems that run primarily on automation and routine behavior, all based on predictive algorithms operating from behind the scenes.
What will this mean on the ground? For regularly purchased, consumable items, it may mean that systems will begin to anticipate when you will next need the item and organize for it to be delivered to your house without you having to lift a finger.
Dawar explains that products – especially ones that you buy routinely – will begin to ‘flow’ to your house one day in the same way that electricity and water currently do. Ever gone to make your morning coffee or pour your breakfast cereal and discovered that a housemate or loved one had finished the last of the milk? Say goodbye to crushed breakfast hopes and hello to the world where the milk never, ever runs out. A brave new world, indeed.
We say: Automation is about increasing convenience for customers and at the same time, removing a lot of the heavy marketing lifting for those brands who have an established customer base and strong brand loyalty. However, there will always be a place for new products to emerge on the scene and for clients who enjoy the thrill of the chase to be accommodated in their purchasing decisions. Automation should rightly bring about more choice and flexibility where it is desired, not less.
3. When Influencer Marketing Goes Wrong
What is influencer marketing? We thought you’d never ask. It’s the act of promoting and amplifying your brand message through the strategic use of thought leaders or influencers in your industry.
Like many things, influencer marketing can go horribly wrong, as the Global Yodel Media Group recently explained in their Huffington Post article. They relay the cautionary tale of two clients of the company – competing brands in the same industry – who took entirely different takes on influencer marketing, to the detriment of one and the benefit of the other.
While there are too many takeaways encapsulated within the post than space allows here to properly recap, suffice to say that the brand with the worst performing strategy forgot a critical lesson: that marketing is about relationships, and this is never more true than when you are talking about dealing with influencers. We highly recommend you head on over and read the article in depth (just don’t forget to come back when you’re done!)
We say: While the influencer marketing relationship has business transactions at its very heart, it always pays to remember that influencers are people too. The best-laid marketing plans soon go out the window unless they are built on a solid relationship-based understanding first.
4. Beef up your business
As much as it hurts to say it, sometimes size does matter, and there are times in the world of business when it can help to pretend you are bigger than you are.
This is the core message of HP Australia’s recent post on Mashable, 5 Genius Tactics to Help Your Small Business Appear More Robust.
The advice is gearing towards small businesses who want to be big, or at least to be taken more seriously, and so includes several highly actionable tips. Automation even rears its ugly head again (who would have guessed… we sense a trend in the wind).
We say: Employ a little wizardry where it counts. Try out some of these simple hacks for inflating your business profile and reap the rewards your new mindset will bring for your attitude and your bottom line.
5. Keep it simple, stupid …
Okay, so we’re going to finish up with KISS just for something new and different. And no, not, in fact, the familiar abbreviation for the phrase outlined above but the actual band, man – that is, the make-up covered, blood-spitting, long-haired genuine article.
Over at Adweek, Jason Harris recently wrote an entertaining article on the 3 Things Kiss Taught Me About Marketing. And while it is certainly entertaining, there is more authentic food for thought here also.
For example, one of the things that KISS undeniably understood was the immense value of building your brand. And as Harris explains, that meant creating a story which would deeply resonate with their audience. He demonstrates how modern companies can take a leaf out of the KISS playbook and develop brand stories of their own. Make-up optional.
We say: Story is an excellent vehicle for communicating your brand message. When you craft a story about the why of your brand … the reason your brand exists, you open up an opportunity to connect with your customers on a deeply personal, emotive level. If KISS can do it, so can you!