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Marketing trends 2019Now that it’s 2019, the question on every small business’s mind is “How can I better prepare for the new year?” Taking advantage of the latest trends is an effective way to grow your business and reach a wider audience. So here are a few of the top mar­keting trends that you need to con­sider.

1. Content is still king

The growth of ad blockers has made tra­di­tional advert­ising tougher for small busi­nesses. Paid ads simply aren’t as effective any more. It’s also a slow and passive form of mar­keting that you have little control over.

In any case, cus­tomers gen­erally prefer to buy from people they know, like and trust. So even without an ad blocker, most people are pretty good at ignoring any­thing that looks like a tra­di­tional paid ad. When actually planning pur­chases, they prefer to trust brands and people they know, edit­orial sites and reviews.

Whilst some paid ads will still reach people in “buying mode”, sales are more likely if those people already know and trust you before you try to sell to them. That’s why content mar­keting remains one of the top mar­keting trends.

How can you do that? By pub­lishing useful, quality content that they can rely on. If you can write that yourself to demon­strate your expertise dir­ectly, then great. If you can’t find time to do that though, it’s worth putting some of your ad budget into getting help with it. After all, a reliable repu­tation will make the rest of your ads more cost-effective — and repu­ta­tions last far longer than ads.

Advert­ise­ments will always have a place on web­sites, but content mar­keting is now more effective at building sales and pos­itive repu­ta­tions.

2. Multi-channel marketing matters

Not a ‘new’ trend, but one that just keeps growing, multi-channel mar­keting is still over­looked by many small busi­nesses. I still meet people who think a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile or Twitter account or website is all they need. All of these channels help, but the way to make them really work is to treat your website as the digital hub of your online business presence.

Use as many social media channels as you can to attract and engage audi­ences, even if you need to get some help with social media mar­keting. Then channel them to your website. Why? Because that’s the only part of the system that you truly control. Else­where, you’re subject to the whims of the channels’ owners and trying to shout above your com­pet­ition. Only on your own website do you really have your audi­ence’s full attention.

What about “omnichannel”?

Omni­channel mar­keting is growing too, but that’s a little dif­ferent. Is means making the cus­tomer exper­ience as seamless as pos­sible across all the channels and devices they may use. Import­antly, “channel” in this case includes tele­phone ordering and visits to bricks-and-mortar premises as well as social media and web­sites. As for “devices” — well, “mobilegeddon” began in 2015, so if your website isn’t mobile-friendly by now, you’re ignoring over 50% of your potential audience.

Still, omni­channel mar­keting is clearly a pretty big strategy to undertake, so why bother? Because con­sistency builds trust, dir­ectly improving repu­tation and sales. So even if you’re just starting out with multi-channel mar­keting, it’s worth making an effort to keep the branding and control of your social media channels con­sistent.

3. Consumers love video

Of all the new mar­keting trends, video mar­keting is one of the fastest growing. YouTube is actually the second biggest search engine — and Google owns it, so videos can help normal search rankings, too.

So video has now become one of the top mar­keting trends for several reasons:

  • Con­sumers love online video — 45% watch it for an an hour or more every day
  • Video can convey far more inform­ation, faster and more effect­ively, than text
  • Video cameras of adequate quality are now common. Even phone cameras are often good enough for use in video advert­ising
  • Other tech­no­logies like screen capture and anim­ation have caught up, too. Bespoke stuff is still costly, but affordable video mar­keting solu­tions can be sur­pris­ingly effective
  • Video offers new oppor­tun­ities for cre­ativity. Cre­ativity stands out, so it’s the key to unlocking the full potential of content mar­keting
  • YouTube has proven that people will watch almost any­thing. Who could have pre­dicted that entire channels of unboxing videos would be so popular?

Common concerns and workarounds

Still, many assume that video mar­keting is expensive, complex and time-con­suming. It can be, if you want full-blown, Hol­lywood-style video pro­duction, or complex bespoke anim­ation. It doesn’t have to be that way to be cost-effective, though. Other small business owners avoid it because they don’t like being filmed. Me neither — but again, you don’t have to get in front of the camera. There are work­arounds, if you’re open to them.

Still, why would those firms who do make big video pro­duc­tions and anim­a­tions choose such an expensive form of video mar­keting over simpler, cheaper options? Because expense is rel­ative to the return on the investment. Those costly video advert­ise­ments still make enough profit to be cost-effective. Like all effective mar­keting, the more you can invest in it, the more profit you’re likely to make. It’s best to keep up with mar­keting trends if pos­sible, though — and getting started with video mar­keting isn’t as costly as it was just a few years ago.

So if you’re still thinking “video mar­keting isn’t for me,” you’re probably thinking of the wrong kind of video mar­keting. Explore the options before you decide. Oth­erwise you may just be leaving money on the table.

4. People value personal service more than ever

For small busi­nesses, it can easily feel like big cor­por­a­tions hold all the cards. However, one of the biggest issues with scaling a business is you lose the con­nection you have with your audience. Whilst using stats like website traffic effect­ively helps small busi­nesses to grow, large firms often focus on numbers more than people. Cus­tomers never appre­ciate being ignored, so small busi­nesses have an advantage with this mar­keting trend.

As a small business, it’s easier to interact on a truly per­sonal level with your audience, through social media, com­munity message boards and even email.  It could be some­thing as simple as a written thank-you message in a physical order, or even an enter­taining video cel­eb­rating an important milestone.These can all be effective ways to show your cus­tomers that you care about them.

Names have power, too. This is why per­son­alised ser­vices are so popular:

“A per­son’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any lan­guage.” — Dale Carnegie

Even when you clearly don’t really know the person you’re addressing, using their name gives a strong impression that you do. You may have seen per­son­alised video ads on TV, for instance. Those take quite a lot of expensive systems to set up, but big busi­nesses find the extra impact makes them cost-effective enough to justify that. Still, affordable video per­son­al­isation has now arrived, too.

Personalisation vs. privacy

Whilst you do need to be careful with per­sonal data, it’s powerful when people do give you per­mission to use it. That’s why it’s reg­u­lated. No-one wants “Dave” from India to pretend he’s an old friend just because he bought their contact details on a dodgy mar­keting list. Legit­imate consent-based mar­keting is a dif­ferent matter, though. After all, if you’ve actually signed up for Dave’s deals, it’s better if he uses what he knows about you to make sure they’re rel­evant.

Large firms often develop “per­sonas” to keep their mar­keting efforts focused on their ideal cus­tomers without identi­fying the real people they rep­resent. That tech­nique can help small busi­nesses, too. Still, most cus­tomers already know they matter more to a small business than they would to a big firm. That may even be the main reason they came to us, espe­cially if we’re in their local area. For instance, even though web design is a service that can be delivered remotely, I find most people around Cardiff and Bristol prefer to deal with a local web designer.

Per­sonal service is a big advantage that small firms need to make the most of. It’s not just about dealing with cus­tomers in person any more. It’s about making time to be sociable on social net­works, thinking about what makes your ideal cus­tomers so special, and letting them know that they are.

5. Generation Z

Move over Mil­len­nials — the true “digital natives” are coming. Gen­er­ation Z con­sists of people born since 1995, most of whom have never known a world without the internet. Some are now in their late teens and early twenties, and starting to have a real com­mercial impact. So lagging behind on digital mar­keting is no longer an option. Mil­len­nials tend to merely expect you to be up to speed with it, Gen­er­ation Z assumes you will be, because… well, who isn’t?

Actually, a lot of business owners. Even now, many busi­nesses are owned by Baby Boomers (born before 1965) — and as the wealthiest gen­er­ation to date, the interests of Baby Boomers have also dom­inated most firms’ mar­keting efforts for decades. Mean­while, the average age of UK business owners is still firmly in the Gen­er­ation X range (1965 to 1979).

See the pattern? Most business owners didn’t grow up with com­puters every­where. The fam­ously entre­pren­eurial Mil­lennial gen­er­ation (1980 to 1994) did, but ‘Boomers still own over half the UK’s wealth. Still, as more ‘Boomers retire, the Mil­len­nials’ rise and now that of Gen­er­ation Z mean old modes of business are truly on their way out.

Want to know what else Mil­len­nials and Gen­er­ation Z have in common? Apart from the digital mindset and a tendency to be early-adopters of tech­nology, that is?

Socially responsible causes and a fondness for “artisan” products.

Again, this is good news for ethical small busi­nesses and those who focus on serving local markets. Mass-pro­duced products still benefit from eco­nomies of scale, but Mil­len­nials and Gen­er­ation Z will pay more for crafts­manship and cre­ativity. The more dubious mar­keting trends of the 70s and 80s are also facing a backlash. The digital gen­er­a­tions actually value the human touch.

Conclusion

As we enter 2019, UK news channels are full of reasons to expect a chal­lenging year. It will cer­tainly be more com­pet­itive, so it won’t be enough to rely on “hope mar­keting” (passive word-of-mouth). Still, it’s often easier for smaller busi­nesses to adapt to rapid change. That flex­ib­ility, along with the changing mar­keting trends listed above, actually gives small busi­nesses an edge. So the question is — will you rise to the chal­lenge and embrace these new mar­keting trends, or just wait and hope it’ll all turn out right somehow?

Need a hand with these mar­keting trends?