It’s hard to believe we’re more than a month into the new year. Many corporates didn’t return to business until after Australia Day, giving the SME owners who’d been in full swing for a few weeks a great head start.
To capitalise on this early advantage, here are some of the trends SME owners should be across:
- Personalised content marketing strategieswill become more of the norm so prepare to be inundated. Don’t you just love that companies contact you by name and seem to be everywhere you have been looking? But… are they really giving you what you need? I believe consumers will start to get tired of ‘fake like’ personalised content and that marketers and business owners will have to be nimble and ready enough to switch tactics to catch customers as they react and look elsewhere. Getting numerous automated emails or targeted online with personally addressed will soon lose their worth if they are not relevant and on message so work on your own content calendar now and be prepared to edit it continually and keep adapting.
- Video and visuals will continue to dominate.We’re back to the future! There was a time when caveman communicated with visuals – that’s where we are heading back to in our habits. Hence the rise of Instagram replacing Facebook (which is so passé). As attention spans get shorter, the more visual you endeavour to make your communication, the quicker you communicate and the more successful it will be. There is no doubt pictures speak a thousand words so find suppliers that are fast and inexpensive to work with to up the ante on your visual representation. The good news is the price of video production and editing has come down with technology advances.
- Inbound marketing will continue on its way up and you should take note. You can do things quicker, faster and better. I am particularly excited about the advances made by CRM brands such as HubSpot as well as MS CRM with Click Dimensions. They’re starting to make prospect reach-out and pull-in so much easier, cheaper and more effective for businesses. The technology has grown enough to enable us to do things internally and take more on, with less resources that once upon a time used to take an army of specialists.
- Artificial intelligence is probably the trend I am most excited about and I think we’ll see a wave of IPOs for AI services over the next 24 months. Stop worrying about AI taking your job and start researching how it can help you improve what you do now. Because someone, somewhere is inventing it now. As technology drives change across every industry from banking to the way we shop, AI is the trend to read up on and get deeper insight into how its changing your industry and helping you be more effective. Think of it as a super tool.
- Resources and people. Now is the time to build, motivate and unite your team and give people clarity on what the opportunities are for them and the business in the next 12 months. And it’s not all about them even if you think it is. People take pride in achieving good things, so ask your team to help increase productivity, find ways to do things in less time and offer their recommendations. It is amazing what you can with a team when you are on side and united.
- It is still about people and their experience. There’s certainly a place for discounts and special offers but people also want truly memorable experiences where they feel part of something and engage with companies who share their values. So, put the effort in like never before when it comes to customer experiences and match what you are doing with their needs – I see a big re-focus on experiential in 2018.
- The fall of bricks and mortar as places of work and places to shop. Half of the 1200 malls are expected to close in the UK by 2023. Meanwhile, an increasing number of businesses are embracing co-working spaces such as WeWork and Gravity and the next generation of serviced office spaces. Costs down, collaboration up and shared learning pays off. Watch this space in 2018.
And lastly it may not be a trend but a tip – read more. It never ceases to amaze me what wisdom there is to read and increase your knowledge. Elon Musk swears by the habit of multiple reading and I endorse it. Whether its quick grabs from LinkedIn or apps that summarise books to the latest book releases… read more and implement what you learn.
Use 2018 to make the changes you want to see.
About the author:
Sharon Williams is a pioneer in the Australian marketing and PR industry. She is a CEO, Fellow of the PRIA, international speaker, personal brand expert, entrepreneur, mentor, marketer, media commentator and frequent mainstream editorial contributor. Under Sharon’s leadership and entrepreneurial flair, Taurus is now recognised as one of Australia’s highest profile agencies, offering unparalleled levels of service to global corporations including Advance, UTS:INSEARCH, Appster, Napoleon Perdis and Clean Up Australia.