Top 8 Trends for Small Businesses to Follow Right Now

OK, so you’ve started a business and you’ve been focusing on increasing sales turnover and then with any luck you’ll make a profit. But, the problem is you’ve been working IN your business instead of On your business.

Trust me you’re not the only one.  I’ve done this too as well as countless millions of others. We can’t help it for some reason, we batten down the hatches keep our heads down and make sure cash flow can see us through.

However, what you still need to do is grow your business even if things are going really well.  It’s something we forget about.

The best way to do this is to keep a track of the top trends that are happening in the business space at the moment.

So why am I writing this article?

These are the trends that I see working really well for our clients at the moment and thought I’d share the top 8 with you.

Content marketing

It’s no surprise that I’ve put content marketing at the top of the list. Never has there been a strategy that gives you the best return on investment compared to the other marketing activites you’re doing at the moment.

It’s also the foundation of every piece of marketing that you put out there in the next 6 months. Most content starts with an idea and from there you produce articles, infographics, graphs, podcasts, videos, slide presentations which can then be shared lots of times on multiple social media platforms.

The cherry on top is the fact that you can produce bite-sized content from the very article or blog post you produced and share it hundreds and thousands of times which helps get your message out there and promote your brand.

Now, producing great content on a regular basis is never going to be easy. This is where an entrepreneur needs to think on his or her feet and either get someone within the office to help them with this or outsource this to a third party. Either way, this should be at the top of your shopping list when it comes to trends you should be following right now.

Don’t believe me?

Take the time out to see what your competitors are doing, where they’re advertising, what they’re promoting and how often they do this just to give you an idea that now is the best time to start.

Automation is key

Some might see the above header “automation” and think I’ve gone completely and totally mad and on some level, they might just be right,  but stick with me here because when I say automation I don’t mean a piece of heavy machinery weighing a ton.  We’re talking about social media software, email marketing software, customer relationship management tools,  mobile marketing tools and SEO tools (I think you get the idea)?

Over the last few years, it has never been easier to automate most of the things that I’ve just spoken about within your small business. The best thing is, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out how these tools work and how they can improve your business.

Do you have several different offices?

No problem, most of the automation tools and software available online today can be used by multiple people anywhere in the world. This means there’s no excuse not to encourage collaboration, shorter deadlines and increased communication.

Experiment with live streaming video and visual storytelling

If you haven’t started producing video for your business yet now is the time to start.  I’m not suggesting that you become Steven Spielberg overnight,  but as I’ve mentioned before, there are many ways you can produce really great video at almost zero cost.

In 2017 live streaming became a tool for businesses and not just your teenage son or daughter. Never in history has it been possible to reach your audience almost instantly at the time of your choosing, the day of your choosing and on your agenda.

The best part is, these streaming services from the likes of YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are free to use and are able to be utilised by anybody in your business at any time.

So why is this so powerful and why is this trending at the moment?

1. As you may have realised after reading a few of my articles. One of my main points that I’d like to put across is the fact that as a small business you have a huge advantage.  You’re small enough to care which means you’re small enough to engage!  Small businesses and companies that engage with their existing clients and even potential ones will always win in the long run.  Live streaming is the ultimate engagement with your audience.

2. The more live streaming you do the larger the audience you have. Again, this isn’t exactly rocket science and it may even seem obvious at first glance but a great statistic we’ve noticed with our clients is the fact that their audience grows week after week the more live streaming they do. This means potential clients are watching and consuming this content and aren’t looking at the competition.

3. Instead of hiring expensive halls, fancy hotel suites and putting on a plush assortment of food and drink. Live streaming allows you to save money by streaming directly to people’s phones and desktops all at the same time. Now, don’t get me wrong,  I’m not saying you should never do a physical function for your clients but what I am saying is this new live streaming phenomenon can set things up nicely for future conferences or future functions without costing you a penny (other than your time).

4. Depending on the type of live streaming you do you can also involve sponsors who can help with the funding of future events by sponsoring your live stream.

5. Got a new product or service coming onto the market?  Why not do a live stream of somebody using that service or using that product. Kind of like a behind-the-scenes look at what you have available. Not only do you have the ability to demonstrate this in great detail, it also allows you to become more intimate on a business level with both your potential and existing clients. At the moment, there is no better tool than this to get and spread your message out there in front of an audience that already loves what you do.

SEO Remains a Top Priority

Search engine optimisation (SEO) will always be on the list like this one. Simply put, you cannot ignore optimising your articles, pages or websites.

Most businesses that we start working with have this very low on their list of priorities when it comes to marketing their businesses. I suppose it’s because they don’t really understand how it works even why they should take the time out to put a strategy in place.

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t blame them. SEO is definitely not for the faint-hearted and there are even parts of it that I don’t understand. However,  and forgive me, I might be biased in saying this. SEO for your website should be the top priority and if you can’t do this yourself I encourage you to outsource this to an agency.

I’m not saying this because I want to publicise any of the services that we offer (well maybe a little).  I just think it’s really important that small businesses start to get the basics right which isn’t particularly hard when you’re competing in your local marketplace.

Customer engagement

One of my favourite ways of marketing and now a favourite with some of our clients is increasing customer engagement.

So what do I mean by this?

Increasing customer engagement means when somebody mentions you on social media, let’s say for example, something like “you offer a great service” via Twitter. Then you should always thank that person and retweet their tweet.

This is what I mean by increasing customer engagement.

There may be a few people that do this already, but from my research, a very few people do this on a regular basis. We’ve seen overall turnover and sales increase when you make customer engagement a priority.

Obviously, I used Twitter as an example but this really should be used on every social media platform your business is listed on.

The best way you can do this efficiently and economically is to use a piece of software like Hootsuite which allows you to track everything happening on all your social media platforms at once.

For the record, I’m not affiliated with them in any way I’m just a cheerleader for great service.

Make personalisation a priority

Personalisation may seem like a similar point to the previous point of customer engagement, but to be honest, it is completely different.

One of the best things we’ve seen working at the moment is actually including your clients in your marketing materials when they have left a nice comment or mention your product or service online.

So how do we go about been doing this?

Next time you do a podcast or a video, use an example of one of your clients that have left you some feedback, mention them in any press release or other media and then inform them that you have mentioned them.

It’s probably advisable not to use their full name but just their first name when communicating this online.  However, there’s nothing wrong with taking a screenshot of their comments or feedback.

For obvious reasons, this works really well for the likes of restaurants,  car garages that repair cars,  retail stores and hairdressers.

So how do you let these people know that you’ve mentioned them in your latest marketing effort?

Most social media platforms these days allow you to tag people in a post or image which in turn fires off a notification to the person you’ve just tagged.

Do you think this person is likely to use or purchase something from you in the future?  I’m guessing so….

Increase CRM Use

If you’re not using a customer relationship management system (CRM) at the moment you’re leaving money on the table.

What do I mean by this?

The best way of increasing turnover from one year to another is the tap into a resource that has a saved list of previous clients that have purchased from you before.

As long as those clients were happy with their purchase or happy with their service they received there’s no reason why they won’t purchase or use your service and future.

using a crm for your small business

We’ve encouraged our clients here at XenMedia to use this every single day without fail coupled with a marketing strategy of asking for feedback once the product or service has been delivered. This is a win-win for everyone.

If you’re wise you are increasing your product or service price with inflation and from my research, most clients don’t mind paying a little bit more than they paid last year. Everyone expects prices to rise annually and your clients are no different.

So not only are you getting a returning client you’re also increasing the average sale price annually.

More use of growth hacking tools

Here’s a list of growth hacking tools we’re using for our clients are at moment:

Colibri

This is a new growth hacking tool which allows you to access data across multiple social media networks and forums simultaneously. It helps monitor what people are saying about their brand and their business so they can quite quickly jump into any conversation at any time.

So if there is someone complaining about you or your business online you can respond in record time. Not only is this great for engagement, but it shows both potential and existing clients reading this complaint that you actually care and are willing to try to put things right in real time.

Twilighter

I’m going to be completely and totally honest with you now. This is a little tool that was introduced to us by one of our clients and I’ve never previously even heard of it before.

It’s called Twilighter and it allows your visitors to quickly highlight a specific piece of content on one of your pages and share it on Twitter. It’s great because it doesn’t take too long to set up and your content will be shared on Twitter almost immediately.

We absolutely love this tool and so have rolled this out to the vast majority of our other clients where they have a huge Twitter user base.

If you’re following is quite low, then it’s probably not a good idea to use this. You may not see any decent traffic from it.  However, if you are active on Twitter then this will certainly increase your traffic almost overnight the results we’ve seen I’ve been nothing short of stunning.

Click to Tweet

Ok, here I go again I’m going to beat the content marketing drum. Whenever you produce a piece of content for your blog or website you have the ability to add a small piece of code to the article that allows your readers to quickly share this to Twitter. Again, this only really works if you have quite a decent Twitter following.

One thing I will say is, you need to test these tools out for yourself.  Unfortunately, there’s no size fits all here and they may not even work for you.

For example, we started using this tool and it works really well at the beginning but less effective as the months went on.  In contrast one of our clients who is a hairdresser constantly has their clients sharing their content using the click to tweet tool.

Go figure.

Try it out for yourself and test it within your own platform.

Buffer

Social media tools that are trending at the moment are Buffer and HootSuite. Even though these tools do very similar things we’re finding that the analytics tab within Buffer is second-to-none when it comes to reusing and repurposing existing content.

So what exactly does this do?

The Buffer Analytics tab shows you:

Which are your most popular tweets, which had more likes, which had more clicks, which had most resize, and which had the most connections?

I’m sorry, I’m a bit of an analytics geek, but this is analytics gold right there.

Some people might be shouting at their mobiles or at the desktop screens at the moment suggesting that we shouldn’t repost content that was posted a few days or weeks ago. I can categorically tell you that the amount of times that you’re followers see your content on a daily basis is pretty low. So, the chances of them seeing the exact same content again are also pretty low.

Knowing this data enables us to do quite a few things:

It allows us to find out which bits of their content are working the best, which ones to repost or reuse. But more importantly, it gives them an idea of exactly what their readers or potential clients find most interesting or want to see more of.

So when we are sitting down at the beginning of the month wondering what sort of content our clients should be producing. The Buffer Analytics tool is the answer to all our dreams.

Do you think I’m a fan?

Damn right I am.

Everyone’s got their favourite social media tools and I’m not suggesting that you stop using them. But, what I will ask is that you try Buffer and more specifically their analytics tool to help you re-post content that’s done really well in the past whilst giving you future content ideas for your marketing mix.

Final thoughts

I really hope you got something out of this blog post?

I enjoyed writing it and sharing it with you because I know that if you only try half of these brilliant trends that are working at the moment with the small businesses we’re working with you should have the very same success.

Don’t forget, as long as you work on your business every day and use some of the trends that I’ve mentioned in this article you should have a thriving and growing business.

For all the UK businesses that are considering how they navigate through Brexit then these latest trends. I’m showing you should give you a nice head start.

Please let me know your thoughts and other trends you found in your business.

I’d love to hear from you.

About the author

Des Dreckett is the Marketing Director of XenMediamarketing.co.uk: a writer, blogger and a paid media specialist. Writing content to help you grow and build your business.

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