Marketing is essential to the success of your business. And each year brings on new marketing opportunities-you just have to know where to look. TNJ.com asked a round table of experts about the unique marketing opportunities 2016 will hold, how you can take advantage of them, and why you should.
“Small businesses should not only be evaluating their marketing strategies as the new year approaches, but should be doing this on a constant basis. Continually studying, evaluating and (if necessary) adjusting strategies and techniques is imperative to success for small businesses,” says Frank J. Lopes, vice president of Forrest & Blake Marketing & Advertising.
The new year will also give you the opportunity to reexamine your current marketing plan and to see where you can make improvements. “It’s important to evaluate all elements of your marketing strategy,” adds Javed S. Khan, president of EMpression, a marketing services company. “There could be some elements of your marketing strategy that worked very well for you in 2015.”
Take a good look at what you already have in motion. “What we advise our clients to do is allocate a test budget each quarter for trying out new ideas, like new ad campaigns, new vendors and new promotions,” suggests Yaron Marcus, CEO at SellSide Media, a digital ad agency with a focus on online advertising and customer acquisition.
So, how can you tell if your marketing plan needs a reboot? Look for the signs. “There are many signs that your marketing plan needs improvement. The most obvious one is sales results. The least obvious ones are the happenings day to day in your business. For example, say a small local restaurant is losing lunch business. Implementing a delivery program could bring back some of that lost lunch business. Sometimes the adjustments that your marketing needs are directly tied to your operational policies and procedures. Making things faster and easier for your customers and then talking about it is going to be the trend for 2016,” explains Lopes.
Is your marketing yielding results? “If you’ve seen diminishing returns on your marketing efforts over a 6-9 month period, it’s a good sign that what used to work may no longer be a viable marketing strategy. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the competition. Though you should not make a habit of trying to emulate their strategies, if you see that several of them are shifting in the same direction, it’s worth evaluating if it makes sense for you,” Marcus points out.
And as we head into a new year, the timing is ripe for marketing strategy overhauls. “The close of the year and the start of another is a good (and important) time to take a good look at what worked in 2015, as well as what didn’t and, of course, what could for 2016. This should be both qualitative and, even better, quantitative whenever it can be succinctly measured. If the numbers demonstrate little traction with a tactic, then consider other options. If you don’t have the benchmarks and analytics set up for 2015, resolve to get them in order for 2016,” explains Carm Lyman, principal, Lyman PR & Marketing.
Here’s what 2016 could have in store for marketing trends:
Video rules! “There are some fantastic opportunities that are available to small business owners everywhere: limited to written word and video. Live video, though the audience may be smaller, can have much more impact,” Lopes says.
Don’t dismiss Facebook; use it. “Facebook Dark Post Marketing. Word is spreading about the power of Facebook marketing and dark posts are still the Trojan horse of the platform. Eager and aggressive small business owners will either learn the ins and outs of the platform or will invest money into hiring professionals that can perform the setup and execution for them. The targeting is so powerful that no small business owner should ignore this platform,” Lopes points out.
Spread the word via email. “Email marketing will continue to be the best online marketing tactic. It should be considered a core element of anyone’s online marketing program,” says Marcus.
Content is king. As content consumption increases from year to year, and the level of sophistication continues to improve from on ad platforms that allow you increase the reach of your content, such as Facebook and Outbrain, there is significant opportunity to market content via paid placements directly to your target audience, at a fraction of the cost of paid search advertising,” shares Marcus Adds Geoff Hoesch, principal, Dragonfly Digital Marketing. “Distribution of content is key, and every type of content generally has its own websites dedicated to that particular media (whether it be YouTube, an infographic directory, or a new way of getting content out there). Know where people are posting specific types of media and make sure it can be found online.”
Start blogging. “Create a blogging campaign that builds business awareness and growth,” suggests Hoesch. “With 1 out of 2 people making lifestyle and social business connections/decisions via mobile devices and the Internet, any social business personality, business or brand should want to.”
Go green! “Businesses that have shifted toward transforming society–turning hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance–are going to be very much in demand. Those that haven’t begun to address this, or at least taken steps to green their own operations, will be at a serious disadvantage, while those that have not only done so but have marketed this transformation effectively will be the darlings of consumers,” says Green Business Profitability Expert Shel Horowitz, author of “Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World.” “Why? A lot of the pressure will be arising out of the COP21 Paris climate agreement just completed. People want to hold their countries accountable to this agreement, and will turn to the business community. Meanwhile, business will see the chance to profit by doing the right thing.”
But don’t just put the marketing out there. Track it. “What we see working is measuring and testing. Many marketers approach content marketing with the writer mindset, trusting that well-written content will just work. In reality, a lot of great content could fall flat: you spend so much effort, put so much heart and soul into it, and nobody cares,” says Rebecca Xiong, CEO at GrowEpic.
Adds Lyman, “Use analytics to understand the most impactful efforts and campaigns all year round. You don’t have to wait until the end of 2016 to revise and revamp yet again. Rather, good marketers adjust programs on the fly based on what is working and what is not. Nowadays, it’s simple to quantify Web traffic, inbound leads and other inquiries driven from specific campaigns.”
Always be on the lookout for new trend. “Watch trends and news, subscribe to HARO, move fast, and develop a big presence on social media so that others amplify your message when something important happens,” advises Horowitz.