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MARKETING TRENDS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

As a small-business owner, you are always looking for ways to get new customers or clients. Some small-business owners find promotion and marketing to be time consuming and expensive, however -- a real chore. If you look at small-business marketing trends, though, you'll not only find many of them are simple, but they also keep you current and competitive. It literally pays to know about and use these top small-business marketing trends.


Location-Based Marketing


While online shopping means people can buy nearly anything from around the world, there are still some things that are best when they're local. There are two parts to the good news for small businesses that cater to people in a local area. One is that people increasingly search online for something followed by the phrase "near me." They also use mobile apps to pinpoint locations of local businesses that offer what they're looking for. The other piece of good news is that there's more hyper-local information about consumers than ever. So whether you're promoting your business online or, say, sending postcards to your target area, it's easier than ever to find customers in a specific location.


Social Media: Free vs. Paid


Since it makes good business sense to sell the way your customer buys, you have to go where they go -- and increasingly, that's on social media. Websites/apps like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Pinterest have millions of users where people spend a significant amount of their time each day. The great thing about social media for small businesses is it's free for you to create accounts, post about your business, and connect with your target market -- all from your phone. Social media apps do offer you the chance to pay for more traffic, but this may or may not be right for your particular business. Many marketers find that growing your social media followers organically (letting people find you through your free posts) is more reliable than paying for posts because 1) many people ignore ads and 2) while paid posts/ads bring you traffic, that doesn't necessarily mean paying customers. So consider the cost, pros, and cons, and decide what's right for you.


Animated Social Media Posts


When you make social media posts, consider using animated GIFs once in a while. These are like short video clips that people use to enhance their post or comment -- sometimes a GIF is the whole comment. All you have to do is scroll down a popular Facebook or Twitter account to see how popular animated GIFs have become. Try it yourself by looking for the GIF icon at the bottom of a Facebook or Twitter post or comment box. Then find a GIF that expresses what you want to say. Using GIFs will show others you can communicate the way they do, which is important in building long-term business relationships. 




Video Marketing


Using video to reach your target market is more important than ever. Fortunately, it's also easier than ever. You no longer need a big-budget TV commercial to promote your business with video. Using social media (see above), you can make short, simple videos showcasing the benefits of what you do. Live videos are gaining in popularity, which is great for small businesses, where time and resources are short. You can use Instagram Stories and Facebook Live to make casual videos about your day-to-day operations. For example, if you're a dog groomer, make an Instagram Story of your adorable, furry clients when they are all cleaned, trimmed, and ready to go home. If you run an auto repair shop, show your mechanics at work, or get a happy customer's permission to film them driving their repaired vehicle. Get creative, and you'll attract people to your social media accounts and your business.





Voice Search


More and more, instead of looking at a search engine, people are letting digital assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana find answers for them. What this means for your small business is that if you don't have a website that ranks high for search terms people use -- or if you haven't claimed your location on a mapping service like Google Maps -- you might not turn up at all in the results. Having a website that ranks high for what your business does is extremely important. Web search experts say using "long-tail" keywords on your website is the way to rank higher for what you want to be known for, because that's more like how people do voice searches. For example, if you have a restaurant, your website shouldn't just use headlines, text, and pictures that say, "restaurant." Think how people would search by speaking. Instead, your website might be designed around the long-tail keyword phrase "Italian restaurant in Westminster," and special dishes or taglines you're known for like "Home of the Giant Cannoli." Then you're more likely to be found in voice search.

Staying on top of marketing trends will help you find new customers and clients because trends show what consumers have become used to -- or what they soon will come to expect. When your small business engages them in these ways, you'll get their attention and possibly even their trust.

What do you think? Have you tried these trends? How did they work for you? Please share your small-business marketing ideas or ask a question in the comments below.

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