As 2015 fades out, small-business owners better be preparing for the next year of marketing and brand management. The economy has been growing at a healthy pace in the United States despite significant turbulence in Europe and other parts of the world, giving entrepreneurs greater levels of opportunity to get their companies off of the ground and into a position of long-term success. However, this begins with marketing, which can be relatively tricky given how a healthier economy has translated to far more saturated markets than had been seen since before the recession.
Simply starting a blog with no vision, posting random commentary on social media, blasting emails that do not say anything at all or optimizing websites for search engines without a strong voice in place will be a waste of money. On the other hand, leveraging more advanced and intelligent campaigns for these various platforms and channels can go a long way toward boosting the brand image in the eyes of prospects and current clientele, and now is a great time to get moving with the New Year right around the corner.
There is no doubt that firms are spending more on marketing, as the CMO Council reported that among the world's businesses this year, $540 billion will be invested into advertising. However, whether or not those monies are going toward substantive and valuable assets is yet to be seen, and one can assume that a tremendous amount is wasted on flippant or misguided attempts to simply raise awareness related to the brand. This does not need to be an entrepreneur's fate, though.
If you would like a quick overview of some of the trends that are sprouting up toward the end of this year and will likely gain steam in 2016, check out this quick video from Newsful:
Certain trends that have been around for a while, including content marketing, social media-based brand management and mobile, will remain active and in a state of transformation in 2016, but the advertising arena is becoming more complex as so many companies grasp at the same prospects. Let's start with the biggest one on the docket, mobile marketing, which businesses will need to take a unique angle on to be truly effective in separating their brand from that of others.
As consumers begin to spend more time on their smartphones and tablets than their desktop computers, digital marketers will have to optimize their campaigns to reach these individuals through their preferred devices. Smart Insights reported that, as of this year, consumers are now engaging with media and marketing content through their smartphones 51 percent of the time, compared to 42 percent on desktops and 7 percent on other gadgets.
Mobile operating systems are dramatically different from desktop ones, meaning that the types of content and delivery models will need to be adjusted when targeting these devices. What's more, consumer behaviors on smartphones are very unique compared to traditional devices, such as the desire for highly concise and informative content that provides some value.
Now, entrepreneurs need not - and should not - completely throw out their brand voice when approaching mobile, instead maintaining a consistent image, but tailoring the distribution methods and formats to mobile best practices.
A few years back, localization was the hottest thing since sliced bread in the marketing community, and was especially powerful thanks to the rising adoption rates of smartphones. Retailers could send out localized marketing content to customers who were in the area, and this was viewed as game-changing. Since then, the concept has cooled off a bit, but the Internet of Things is likely to combine with other catalysts and bring localization back on the table.
This is an especially powerful technique for Main Street stores, as these small businesses have long thrived on the patronage of local community members. Consider beginning to find ways to integrate mobile marketing campaigns with localization efforts, as this will help to drive your core source of revenues. The Marketing Tech blog reported that 84 percent of consumers are using their smartphones to research products while in the store, providing a clear opportunity for localization-minded small-business advertisers.
Then, thanks to the globalization of the economy, you can leverage other campaigns to reach a broader audience, including content marketing.
"In 2016, content will remain king."
Blog, but better
Perhaps what is becoming the most saturated of all the marketing arenas, content advertising has been the talk of the town for years now, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Yes, in 2016, content will remain king. However, Acrolinx reported that 80 percent of respondents to an Aberdeen Group survey cited having one of these campaigns in place, and 78 percent of chief marketing officers believe "custom content is the future."
So, there's bound to be a lot of competition in these areas. However, a winning custom content marketing campaign can put you past your market competitors, and should follow these practices:
- Truly custom: Do not publish anything that is mundane or repetitive, and do not try to mimic anyone. Put in the work to develop a content marketing campaign that is truly customized, top to bottom, with distribution methods and composition handled in unique, brand-aligned fashions.
- Informative: Content marketing efforts must be informative, otherwise you will lose your audience to boredom. Make sure there are valuable insights in every posting, and consider including deals and other types of bait to convert new prospects directly through these campaigns.
- Social, conversational: Social media has not quite started to be a powerful tool for converting new prospects, but it is an exceptional way to at once get the word out about new content and start conversations with readers. Make sure social media is incorporated into your content marketing campaign.
At the end of the day, 2016 shows signs of being a healthy one for the U.S. economy. Get moving on your new year marketing campaigns today and position your company for a successful run in 2016.