Small Business Support Blog

If you are interested in reading about how to get your business visible online, with regular insights into being an entrepreneur and navigating your way through the business world, then this blog is for you!

We regularly post interesting articles on topics on leadership, management and visibility - with guest articles and features from experts in their field.

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  1. 6 Marketing trends for small business in 2020...

    marketing trends

    Image credit: Joe The Goat Farmer

    The end of the year is approaching the horizon, remarkably enough, which means it’s an excellent time to look ahead. You could say that foresight is 2020 in this case. And for anyone at the helm of a small business (particularly one that operates exclusively or primarily online), one of the central things to anticipate will always be the future of marketing.

    First point: you’re up against a ridiculous level of competition, with more businesses scrapping over consumer cash than ever before. Second point: the pool of viable promotional tactics expands and contracts with the march of technology, and if you don’t pay attention to impending changes, you can see your campaigns rendered obsolete in a heartbeat.

    Want to keep up? Think ahead of the curve, and react accordingly. So what small business trends can we expect to play prominent roles in 2020? Let’s take a look at 6 worth considering:

    2020 Marketing Trend for Small Business #1 - Brand storytelling

    In today’s marketplace, people expect more than quality goods and services from their brands. Spoiled for choice by incredible abundance, they know they can get those things from numerous places, so the differentiating factor — the thing that gives one brand the edge over another — isn’t typically price: it’s brand identity. If your business has the right values, it’ll get the nod.

    And when you’re trying to convey your core values, it’s hard to find a tactic more potent than storytelling. Whether you’re recounting the circumstances that drove you to found your company or detailing the kind of impact you’d like to have on the world, your ability to shape a compelling narrative will be key to your long-term success.

    2020 Marketing Trend for Small Business #2 - Offline promotion

    It’s sometimes said that everything old is eventually new again. On that note, have you considered conducting any offline marketing? It lost its popularity when the internet began to pick up steam — digital marketers saw it as a clunky throwback lacking the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of online advertising methods — but it’s seeing a resurgence.

    Why? Partially because offline retail is making a comeback, with retailers no longer needing to choose between online and offline retail: they can start by selling online, then seamlessly move offline, using the same system throughout (seamless hybrid POS hardware is available and affordable). And partially because it’s different, and while people are becoming inured to shallow and ubiquitous online ads, offline marketing can still prove impactful (direct mail, for instance, has tangible physical form, making it feel more meaningful).

    2020 Marketing Trend for Small Business #3 - Shoppable posts

    The convenience of buying is key for marketing because the conversion process can be lengthy. For example, you can spark someone’s interest in your product only to see it ebb away before they actually buy it — making the whole thing pointless and wasting all that marketing effort. This is what shoppable posts are intended to address.

    First launched on Instagram in 2018, they allow users to not only view products but also purchase them without leaving Instagram. You can also sell products directly through Pinterest, Facebook, and other social platforms. So why do I anticipate this being significant in 2020? Because brands are slowly loosening the social media reins (see Wendy’s social media for a good example of this) — and the more creative you can get on social media, the more effectively you can use it to drive conversions.

    2020 Marketing Trend for Small Business #4 - Voice-optimized content

    I’ve seen numerous predictions about voice search, contending (for instance) that it will account for certain percentages of all search traffic by certain years, and I find them all highly questionable — we really don’t know, and the methodologies aren’t very rigorous. What we do know, however, is that Amazon had sold 100 million Alexa devices by the start of 2019. That’s an impressive figure, and there’s still a lot of room for growth.

    Because of this move towards voice search (and natural language search in general), it’s clear that a big focus for small businesses at this point should be creating voice-optimized content. This content should be shaped using the Q&A format. What do people want to know? What are the answers to their questions? This format isn’t just better for voice search: it’s better for all search at this point, making it a vital part of general SEO.

    2020 Marketing Trend for Small Business #5 - Chatbot automation

    Chatbots have been around for quite some time, but companies are starting to get smarter with how they design and deploy them. The technology isn’t leaping ahead or anything so dramatic: rather, people are learning when it’s appropriate to lean on them and when it’s appropriate to get away from them. Couple this with the general population slowly getting used to using chatbots instead of railing against them, and the potential becomes clear.

    The goal of a small business in 2020 should be to rely on a chatbot as a virtual receptionist of sorts. The chatbot should be able to field basic queries, essentially screening anything simple enough that it doesn’t need manual intervention. It should also be capable of dealing with complex issues, passing them to human support assistants in a timely fashion. This is massively important for marketing, because a chatbot can (and should) be capable of promoting a product and even making a sale while all the human workers are asleep.

    2020 Marketing Trend for Small Business #6 - Omnichannel support

    Omnichannel support is about being there for your customers no matter where they need support (in the online world, at least). When someone complains about your brand on Pinterest, you can be there to address it. When that same person compliments your support service on Facebook, you can follow it up, knowing that it’s the same matter.

    It may still feel like a far-off ideal, but in 2020 I’m sure we’ll see more and more small businesses try to move towards it. Key to this will be using the right tools — tools like Freshdesk’s Omnichannel Helpdesk, laden with functionality for tracking issues across numerous platforms, are designed for this exact purpose.

    What are the big rocks for your small business marketing in 2020?

    Kayleigh Alexandra works with Micro Start Ups, helping small businesses with advice and support with establishing themselves in the market place. 

  2. Shopping

    It’s that time again - every weekend there will be a craft fair, Artisan market or event taking place in the run up to Christmas and there will be plenty of organisers willing to take your hard earned cash - but will it give you the opportunity to sell your products and be worth your time?
     
    As a product retailer it can be so difficult to find the right events to be at and set yourself up for success, and that’s all even before you find the confidence to talk to strangers and sell to them!
     
    Having experienced both ends of the experience of fairs and shows, with my own business and supporting Worsley Gin as an exhibitor, and as an organiser of a busy and popular Christmas fair, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to the whole fair process.
     
    I’ve put together ten considerations for selecting what events you want to exhibit at, because it’s important to do your research so you don’t waste your money and your time...
     
    1. The Organisers. Are they professional events organisers or are there regular events happening from them. Are they an official business - check them out so you minimise the risk of being ripped off.
    2. Location. Fairs and markets which are organised out of town or without ample parking will naturally struggle for footfall compared to ones in prime locations.
    3. Type of venue. Will the venue attract your ideal client? If you are not sure what type of people are attracted to the event then ask the organisers - if they can’t answer with a decent knowledge of the demographic then they perhaps don’t know themselves.
    4. Marketing. Ask the organisers how they are marketing the event. Check out Eventbrite, Facebook and local boards to see if there are people already interested in the event. Do they have an advertising budget? How will they market you as part of the event?
    5. Pitch location. Find out what available stalls there are and think carefully about how footfall will progress through the venue. You don’t want to be at the end of a long queue of similar products, and you may not want to be near a draft!
    6. WiFi!!! It’s so important to know if you are going to have WiFi as this will let you know if you can take card payments and or link up to your website for customer sign ups.
    7. Set Up. Do you have ample time to set up and is there clear access to your pitch or will they provide support to help you unload?
    8. Pitch Set Up. Do the organisers provide tables and chairs? Do you have access to power, is there a storage area for excess stock?
    9. Other stall holders. Find out who else is exhibiting - this is crucial for knowing whether your brand will be a fit.
    10. SUMS!! See below for what to properly consider here.
     
    The financial analysis is so important when considering any event. Here are the basics to calculate:
    • The cost of the pitch
    • The cost of travel (petrol and parking)
    • The cost of set up (if additional equipment is required for example)
    • The cost of your time
    • The cost of anyone you ask to help
    • Cost of refreshments during the event
    • Cost of stock
    Once you have added this all up you can then calculate the volume of sales you need to break even for the event and you can assess whether it will be a good return for you.
     
    We all want to make the best decisions for our business but we can also be guilty of making rash or rushed decisions without thinking through properly - hopefully this guide will give you some structure to your thoughts!
     
    The next consideration is then to think about how you brand your stall or exhibition space - but that's a whole other blog post!
     
    Have you been successful or burnt by fairs in the past?
     
     
    Pamela Rae-Welsh is the owner and founder of Worsley Creative. Specialising in online visibility and SEO, Worsley Creative help ambitious entrepreneurs with levelling up in their business with stylish branding design, web design and digital marketing support. Pamela has a growing presence in Manchester with SEO services and has her family home in Oxfordshire.