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5 Marketing Trends for Small Businesses in 2015

It can be overwhelming to track all the moves going on in small business marketing.  You may have customers to serve, HeadOffice to update with receivables and not yet be sure of all the skills you need in your next hire.  With the other aspects of your small business to manage, some things can slip through the cracks. You still have to pay attention to the trends that will help you to better reach consumers.

The social media revolution is now over.  It’s embedded in contemporary culture and anthropologists are already writing its history.  Marketing has moved on to the ‘Internet of Things’.  This is the ability to transfer data via the internet and networks from all things to all things.  This means not just human-to-computer interactions, but includes touch points between and among people, wearables, appliances, electricity grids, warehouse floors, you name it.

The good news is that businesses in larger, more mature markets are already taking the plunge for you.  They are experimenting with new technology, new platforms and re-vitalising old marketing channels.   You get to stand back, watch it all unfold, then pick what is most likely to work for your business.  So you don’t have to know it all. Just keep your eyes on these 5 trends to keep your marketing effective in 2015.

Responsive Design

If you will be getting a website or upgrading its design this year, make sure it fits.  Responsive design means making your web pages and email fit into all manner of screens – mobile, tablet, phablet, laptop and desktop.  Look forward to adding even more screens like kiosks, wearables and all things internet to this list over time.

Responsive design makes you look good on any screen
Responsive design makes you look good on any screen

The LED technology of your old calculator and digital watch has made way for full color LCD resolution on the front of your smart fridge. The technology is still evolving, however and remains personal.  If for instance, you run a farm to table restaurant, you may want to be among the first restaurants popping up when a consumer’s smart fridge is empty on a Friday night.

Responsive web design is important because you don’t want to lose prospective customers as they move from one screen to the next.  At the end of 2014, Digicel Group reported that more than 45% of its subscriber base now uses smartphones. This was well ahead of the 20% smartphone penetration across Latin America and the Caribbean reported by GSMA last year.  Be prepared to meet consumers wherever they are online.

Location-based marketing

Also prepare to meet consumers wherever they are offline. That’s right – despite what some ‘digital Hermetics’ would have you believe, the real world is still here and people live, work and shop in it. Location-based marketing is simply targeting consumers, according to their geographical location as discovered through cell tower, Wi-Fi or GPS mapping. So as you walk into the JMA JEA Expo, picture you receiving an SMS message or push notification that Sagicor is inviting you to discuss their SME USD line of credit.

Things can easily get creepy here. No one likes to be stalked.  So tread cautiously by inviting customers to opt-in to these kinds of notifications.  Also carefully manage the frequency. As your small business builds a better relationship with customers, you can get more comfortable with on-going interactions.

Augmented Reality

This is giving new life to old media. Using a scanning app, your smartphone will recognize stationary objects like billboards, print ads, posters or even a wall in your store and apply a 3D multimedia layer. This layer can have videos, graphics or anything you want to apply. Augmented reality is a great tool for putting more information at customers’ fingertips. It also adds competitive innovation to your brand.

 

Apps

So what exactly is an app? Short for software application, it generally refers to software downloaded to mobile devices. It is not just a condensed version of your website.  It should provide a useful connection between your company and consumers with clear benefits to the latter.  So if you’re a graphic designer, your app could allow clients to order rush jobs from templates or remind them to send approvals. As a retailer, your app could send push notifications on new stock and special discounts only available to those with the app.

This marketing tool is evolving with features like interactive push notifications.  That is, you will soon be able to get text messages with a button that enables you to take an action without being in the actual app. It’s still early days yet, so keep an eye on this one.

Marketing Promotions

The umbrella and the key ring are so passe.  Even the expensive pen is now overdone.  If you are a business-to-business entrepreneur, you have to kick it up a notch.  Mobile tech is now an official category for promotional item producers.  Branded iPhone cases, USB splitters, charging docks and the like are now standard inventory.  Your branded tech items will be a conversation piece among consumers.

There is a lot more to look forward to like new uses for drones, new releases from the mobile phone industry and the expansion of pay-per-view online. What new marketing trend will you begin trying this year? Let us know in the comments below.

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