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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Category: Digital Marketing

  1. Guest Blog - The Marketing Trends of 2020 - Micro Start Ups

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    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. Content Marketing for Small Businesses

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    fairy advert
    Do you remember the days when marketing was really straightforward? Those days when promoting a product or service relied heavily on printed materials - or if you were one of the big boys then a TV advert, radio ad or motorway billboard may have been your promotional medium of choice.
    Advertising was simple - you explained the product and what it did. Ronseal made a giant (and successful) campaign out of it. Branding was merely a way of distinguishing your Pledge polish to your Mr Shine (albeit through augmenting dream lifestyles) and although brands were very important (mild green fairy liquid anyone?) they were not the all encompassing business identifiers that they have evolved to be now.
    Back then small businesses could promote themselves via leaflets, local newspaper adverts and those golden tomes that everyone revered - the Yellow Pages! Can you remember as a kid the yellow pages being beside or underneath the phone in the hallway and if the boiler went on the blink, your parents leafing through trying to find someone with a name and number that sounded reliable to come out and fix it so you could Dad could take his shower? It was a choice between Bob Smith and Mick Price, and ooh how to choose.
    Fast forward to 2019 and the landscape for marketing a business, be it small or juggernaut is dramatically different. It’s not just that the mediums have changed with digital marketing spend now the predominant budget buster for all businesses, but the real shift has been towards content marketing. Content marketing is the process of using materials (videos, text and images) to convery messages which are not directly about promoting a product or service. The effect is submilinal - creating an interest in the business without the "hard sell". So how, as small business owners can you harness the power of content marketing for your business, in a world where influencers can be paid up to $200k for a post and social media algorithms seem intent on relinquishing you to the corners of doom?
    To make the concept of content marketing for small businesses as simple as possible I’ve created the TIME system, and you can use this to make a plan for your marketing strategy that will set you apart from your competitors.
    T = Teach
    One of the simplest but most effective ways of getting people involved in your business is to teach them something. How to videos, step by step guides and handy tips which will make their life easier or help them achieve their goals will get you a following and gain you interest in your business. Mrs Hinch has made a lifelong career off of the back of this, and companies like Beardbrand have grown exponentially from creating content using this approach.
    I = Inspire
    Simply telling people what your product or service does just doesn’t wash anymore. A brand represents more than just a logo - it is the overall manifestation of that companies presence in the world - it’s policies, procedures and values are now just as important to consumers as the product or service. Why? Because they have millions of others to choose from, so the brand has to be more than just the physical.
    As a small business your content needs to inspire your audience to action. Whether that’s because you create inspirational blogs about interiors if you are home wares business, or it demonstrate the effects of global warming on the planet to raise awareness as part of your eco commitment (for eco-conscious businesses). The top tip here however is consistency. Become known for your posts on environmental issues, or gain a reputation for highlighting a particular style or issue. Don’t try to be a jack of all trades because it won’t work. BrambleSky give daily inspiration on wedding cakes and floristry in their content strategy - it just so happens that all of the cakes and flowers are featured on BrambleSky products!
    M = Movement
    Getting something to go “viral” is like the holy grail for modern marketers, but it does mean that you run the risk of being a flash in the pan or a one hit wonder.
    Building a movement is the process of using your content strategy to get people believing in your ethos and style. The brand MVMT are doing this with their consistent approach to getting their watches photographed in wanderlust places - creating the ethos of a brand linked with travel and luxury lifestyles. This is an approach which small businesses can use to gain their own momentum and movement. Worsley Gin have started this with their “Worsley on Tour” instastories campaign - people take their mini Worsley Gin bottles on holiday and picture them in funny or beautiful locations.
    E = Energy
    The best content marketing strategies have an energy about them that creates a lasting impression. Brands which are successfully building their sales are focussing on the energy that they want to create with their audience and pump all of their own energy into developing the ethos.
    As a small business you need to think about what energy you want to build with your audience... is it comfort (like Cadbury), is it urgency (like Nurofen) or is it indulgence (like Magnum or Secret Escapes) whatever the energy you want to create, take a look at your content approach and see if it’s making those waves?
    As for me, the energy and movement I’m trying to build is one of purpose and empowerment. I want small businesses to feel like they are not lost in a sea of conglomerates and that you can build your businesses without a degree in programming or Kylie Jenner pretending to like your stuff.
    What’s your movement?
    Pamela Rae-Welsh is the owner and founder of Worsley Creative, a digital design studio based in Greater Manchester. Specialising in online visibility and branding, Pamela has helped over 50 businesses with improving their overall brand identity.