5 Marketing Trends for Small Businesses to Jump On Now
As a small business, it’s often hard to compete from a marketing standpoint against larger entities because it requires two things: money and resources. Neither of which, by definition, a small business will have in great abundance. The cost of certain technologies and access to tools, in particular, has often been prohibitive. That said, in the last year or so, much has changed. Access to such technologies and tools has improved significantly and new opportunities have sprouted up as well. Finally, more and more small businesses are getting better educated about the many nuances of marketing. And better education often means getting back to some core fundamentals, which often only get rediscovered after a bit of trial and error.
With those things in mind, we developed this list of “marketing trends” that we think small businesses should jump on if they can.
1. Small Businesses Need to Start Taking Advantage of Automation
For a lot of small businesses that we see, many marketing processes are still manual. It’s understandable actually. But as automations get easier and more widespread, businesses need to take advantage of it – and in general, we’d recommend they do as much as they can, to a point. For example, we recommend that businesses automate the following functions if they haven’t yet, which will save time and resources and eliminate human error on repetitive tasks:
- Lead and contact management. We still see many small businesses that manually transfer a lead submitted through the website to their CRM. Automation can help to put that lead directly into your CRM or marketing automation platform and segment them based on the form that was used. Similarly, the same process can be done for social media leads.
- Email outreach. This would include welcome messages, certain prospect follow-ups, ongoing engagement campaigns, and abandoned carts. Abandoned carts alone can help boost revenue by more than 25 percent if you have your own e-commerce store.
- Calendar appointment setting. Using Calendly, for example, you can easily synch with Outlook or Gmail calendars and then your prospects or contacts can simply reserve a spot on your calendar rather than doing all the emailing back and forth.
- Mobile alerts and notifications. If your small business has access to mobile numbers of your customers and gets the proper permissions, you can automate alerts for discounts, sales, or other notifications that can go out directly to users’ phones.
- With the costs coming down for chatbots (a lot of this due to technologies becoming cheaper and more accessible from an open standards standpoint), you might not need more customer service people, but perhaps only a chatbot on your website that can route individuals to a salesperson or find the right services they need.
That said, there is one area we also WOULDN’T automate as a small business:
- Google Ads. We recently wrote about the Google “Smart Campaigns” that put together ads for you based on some basic information that you provide. We recommend not doing this as you can easily allow Google to waste your money with poor copy and often poor images.
2. Connected TV / OTT Will Play a Bigger Role in Advertising
First, what is Connected TV (CTV)? Basically, this refers to any TV or screen that can be connected to the internet and distributes video content beyond the normal offering from a cable provider. Examples include: Roku, SlingTV, DirectTV on Demand, Amazon Fire Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast. Etc.
CTV includes ads bought programmatically and shown on computer/mobile streaming, or over-the-top (OTT) devices. If you hear the term OTT advertising, it refers to the ads that appear only for devices like smartphones and tablets or computers (not on the actual original programming for television, which is known as linear TV).
With CTV, there has been an explosion in advertising demand just in the last few years. For the most part, this has been dominated by ad purchasing from larger companies, which have both the means to produce different video ads and ad budgets to make it work. However, more recently, we’ve seen additional opportunities for small businesses to advertise at costs that fit their budgets. For example, we have advertising running for clients on platforms such a Brandzooka, which specialize in programmatic-based ads for CTV / OTT devices. (One note: You’ll likely still need to work with an agency like ours but we can certainly help you here as many of these platforms still cater to marketing agencies.)
3. Video Content Will Continue to Play a Big Role in Awareness
Before the advent of today’s mobile phone technology, video used to be the hallmark of specialists in production and post-production who spent a great amount of time learning Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere. But today, great video is much more accessible to the average person (and business), and will remain one of the key ways businesses communicate with potential customers. It’s estimated today that video accounts for roughly 82 percent of all online traffic on the Internet. And more and more, such content or advertising videos are being executed by small businesses themselves (or with some assistance). Want to learn more how to do it yourself? Check out our recent post and video on video marketing on a budget, which provides a lot of the basic tools tips you need to get started. One easy step you can take: Purchase a subscription to Canva, (about $12 per month), which provides a lot of stock video on nearly every topic, as well as templates and designs for nearly every marketing purpose. And download an app on your phone that can help you make videos easily using stock. We recommend Boosted by Lightricks, about $69 per year.
4. Expect TikTok and Instagram to Play a Larger Role in How You Can Promote Your Business
If you want to look at two social media platforms that continue to grow (and grow significantly) that would be TikTok and Instagram. Right now, given the demographics, which tend to focus on the 18-to-30 crowd, some small businesses don’t promote themselves to audiences on these platforms. However, at some point, they will likely need to, as today’s teens and young adults mature into needing other types of products and services.
First, let’s cover TikTok. Originally focused on super-short videos, TikTok has in essence overtaken a big portion of the 18 to 30 age group. There are lots of ways you can develop creative videos for potential audiences here – all you basically need is your phone and the TikTok app. But one note: Outside of also posting the same video on Instagram, what you create here will likely be used only for TikTok because of the formatting so make sure it’s worth your investment and time for video production, even if it’s just you or an employee producing it with his or her phone.
Meanwhile, Instagram has steadily become the favored platform for a lot of marketers big and small. That’s because it’s primarily a visual medium. On the average post, there aren’t a ton of opportunities to click through because outside links generally aren’t made click-able on posts themselves. As a result, it’s really for small businesses that want to develop a content presence in this mostly self-contained world, where companies use those opportunities to brand themselves in front of the 1 billion or so users as of 2021. Similar to TikTok, the demographic is particularly skewed toward the 13-34 age group, though it also has broader appeal among Gen X and even Baby Boomers. Good strategies here include: Using great photos and video to engage audiences and promote the brand. If you’re in retail, also running ads can an effective strategy as well.
For more strategies and tactics on both of these two social media platforms, you can download for free our recently updated 2022 Small Business Guide to Social Media.
5. Great Small Businesses Are Redefining Their Narrative
One of the fundamentals of marketing that we’ve discussed in the past and one that has become increasingly important today is brand narrative. More and more educated small businesses are coming to realize that it often doesn’t matter how great the execution is on their digital marketing campaigns if their brand narrative isn’t strong and, in particular, projected consistently. One of the questions we work with small business clients on is analyzing how they project their brand in all the various channels. Does it align with an overall larger narrative that they want to tell?
Because activities are so specialized (and even within marketing, groups are often siloed), it’s easy to end up with one message in one channel and completely different one in another. We’ve seen this happen at large companies and small ones where the brand equity ends up getting diluted because the marketing doesn’t consistently convey that core brand message and value. Consistency matters in this case from a marketing standpoint because it leads to more trust and predictability for consumers. When brands project themselves inconsistently, it can even lead to loyal customers questioning whether or not the brand’s products and services are right for them.
If you need help in this area, we certainly recommend our friends at The Narrative Playbook, who can help you establish a better narrative for yourself and your company. Once you’ve settled that, we at Marketing Nice Guys can work with you to implement it consistently in all your marketing channels.
If you need help in any of the above areas, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our mission is to help you excel in digital marketing and we’re always available to have a free consultation regarding any marketing topic you want to discuss.
 According to Cisco Systems estimates as of 2021.