By Claire Holland
Today’s competitive landscape continues to put more demand on small businesses than ever before. As trends inevitably come and go, how do small businesses identify the relevant trends at the right time to not only complement the brand, but also resonate with target audiences? Think about the challenges your brand faces this year and take a look at the top trends we’ve gathered to help inspire your small business marketing strategies in 2016.
- Goodbye, B2B & B2C. Hello, H2H!
Brave brands have parted with segmenting audiences by B2B and B2C, and instead adopted a human-to-human approach. To creatively build meaningful relationships with audiences, brands must provide experiences that cultivate a deep emotional connection and harness brand love. Ultimately strive for communication that is personal, conversational, empathetic, inspirational, humorous and story-driven.
- Brand Community Collaboration
Don’t be afraid to open up a dialogue and make audiences feel heard by encouraging them to actively spread your brand message on your behalf. Smart brands leverage the collaborative power of their communities through user-generated content and crowdsourcing campaigns. These efforts authentically engage the audience and allow them to develop a meaningful stake in the brand’s evolution and success. It can even lead to the emergence of transformational ideas that steer the brand in a new direction.
- Technology with Purpose
Technology continues to evolve, and it seems like every week, a new innovation is introduced. The best marketing strategies don’t just check boxes; they inspire attendees, leaving them energized and connected. Adding purposeful technologies and interactive elements can greatly support this idea. In the coming year, brands should take a more sophisticated and thoughtful approach when integrating digital technologies to best support their brand stories. Don’t just use technology for the sake of it; strategically select tactics that make the most sense for your message and audience.
- The New ROI: Return on Innovation
It’s time for small businesses to think beyond ROI’s traditional definition and start measuring the return on innovation, which focuses on assessing the long-term impact of innovative marketing strategies. In addition to traditional ROI metrics, brands seeking a more effective way to build meaningful connections should measure memorability, engagement and brand perception.
- Next Level Hashtags
Hashtags are undoubtedly a popular and powerful part of our communication culture. They are a resilient, effective way to classify information, streamline conversations and create memorable shared experiences across social platforms. In the coming year, brands will infuse new creativity to take their hashtag usage to the next level, enabling participation from both live and online audiences in highly interactive ways. Not only will such experiences help brands stay relevant in an increasingly competitive landscape, but it will also activate meaningful connections with an audience that will share messages on the brand’s behalf.
Claire Holland is the Director of Marketing Communications at agencyEA, a brand experience agency specializing in experiential, digital and traditional engagement in Chicago.