Steve Strauss in USA TODAY outlines the top 5 Trends in Small Business.
5. Social Media Grows Up: Have you noticed that “social media” is a term that doesn’t really describe the experience that well anymore? Yes its social, and yes its media, but for business it has become so much more than that. Tapping, nay, mastering, social media is one of the hottest of all online trends:
• Everyone from Jet Blue to Comcast has turned to Twitter as a customer service tool.
• Companies like Whole Foods and Popeys increasingly use it to get feedback, post company news, etc.
• Big business has discovered what many small businesses already know: Facebook is a great place to advertise. “Facebook” in fact was the most searched term in 2009. (Source: Experian Hitwise)
Hop on the social media train, Jane, because it’s headed out of the station at light speed.
4. Going Local: Consumers are increasingly looking for a local angle when looking where to spend their hard-earned dollar. Example: The explosion of farmers markets across the country. According to Entrepreneur, “there are almost 5,000 farmers markets across the country, the result of more than 5% annual growth for the past five years.”
Additionally, with people staying closer to home right now because of the economy, with folks focused ever more on community and family, and with the green ethos growing, home is where the heart (and dollar) is.
3. Sharing vs. Shared Experiences: According to a recent NPR podcast, we used to share national experiences. The nightly news was a shared ritual for instance. The OJ Simpson trial was a shared experience, the same with Vietnam, and so on.
But that is changing, for two reasons. The first is the fragmentation of the media. With innumerable news outlets, websites, cable channels, mobile options and the like, the opportunity to create shared experiences is diminishing. We are all not watching or experiencing the same thing nearly as much.
Secondly, with the advent of easy to generate user-created content, sharing experiences and opinions is becoming ever more prevalent. YouTube, blogs, Facebook, Yelp, email even, all contribute to both the media fragmentation as well as the sharing culture.
For the small business person, it is vital to realize that 1) people look for, and increasingly expect, the personal, and 2) small, localized, immediate user-created media are where the eyeballs are headed.
2. Mobile Mania: Maybe the only marketing trend that is hotter than social media is mobile mania. Why? Maybe because there are four-times more cellphones than PCs worldwide, or because they are the favorite product of Gen Y, or because in 2000, there were almost no texts sent but this year, 130 billion texts will be sent a month, and only 23% of those will come from my daughters.
So yes, mobile marketing is exploding. Whether it is creating the Next Big App, offering customers a real-time mobile coupon, or creating a text marketing campaign, in 2010 there will be mobile options galore for small business.
Even better maybe: The variety of ways to measure the success of your mobile campaign. According to the Mobile Marketing Association, they will include: “The number of eyeballs, shakes and finger swipes. The number of blogs, articles, tweets and diggs. The number of acquisitions, conversions, calls, responses or purchases. Total basket size, consumer recall, loyalty and recommendations. Check-ins on foursquare and check-outs on Amazon.”
It is a new world indeed.
1. The Start-Up Economy: Last year, 2009, my top trend was entitled “Economic Tumult,” and tumultuous it indeed turned out to be; the Great Recession is great in all the wrong ways.
But this year, while the state of the economy will continue to be the most significant trend effecting small business, the outlook is both brighter and calmer. It is calmer because things are slowly getting back to, if not normal, at least something recognizable. And it is brighter because out of the rubble, a new, vital, innovative start-up economy is being born.
We have entered the era of small business. Whereas GM president Charles Wilson once said “What’s good for the country is good for GM, and vice versa,” it can now safely be said that what is good for small business is good for the country. Consider these statistics.
Small businesses now
• Number almost 30 million
• Employ more than half of all workers
• Constitute 99.7% of all employers
• Constitute 97% of all exporters
• Create the majority of business innovations
(Source: U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, 2009)
With 10% unemployment for as far as the eye can see, with the unemployed running out of benefits, and with benefits not what they once were for the employed, start-ups of all shapes and sizes are taking root: One person shops, home-based businesses, part-time ventures, online enterprises, high tech companies – you name it. These are the folks who, with their creative energy, drive, ingenuity, and hard work will be leading us out of this anything but great recession.
We will have to wait until next year’s list to see just how far they will take us. My hunch is that the companies born in this recession will be the stuff of legend by the end of the decade.