By: James Bender, CEO, Bender Marketing

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As I was working on a content audit, I came across a couple of posts on small business marketing trends for the years 2013 and 2014. As I reviewed these, I noticed something very interesting. — James Bender/Bender Marketing Services

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1. The integrated marketing plan becomes popular again

Now: An integrated marketing plan is critical to high performance

Having a marketing plan is more important for small businesses than they realize. A marketing plan focuses your efforts and helps you avoid wasting time and money doing things that aren’t moving your business towards your goals.

Creating a marketing action plan can help you select the right activities that will make a difference in your results. And now, with all the online opportunities coming your way, you need one action plan that holds you accountable and keeps you focused on achieving your goals. 

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2. Content marketing dominates small business marketing strategies

Now: Inbound marketing dominates small business marketing strategies

Today’s buyers are even smarter and more savvy when it comes to purchasing products and services. We don’t want to be sold. We do our research on possible solutions to our problems before we make a purchase decision.

Consumer purchases have been made online for quite some time with the buyer controlling the purchase process. But now, even business buyers are taking control. According to Forrester: 

  • 60% prefer not to interact with a sales rep

  • 68% prefer to research on their own online

  • 62% develop their selection criteria or finalize a vendor list based on digital content.

So whether you sell to businesses or consumers, you need to position your business as an expert resource using a solid inbound marketing strategy. 

  • Create expert content that speaks to your audience.

  • Optimize that content for better search engine visibility.

  • Promote that content on your social media profiles. 

This will increase your visibility with your target audience and help them determine the best route to take when making a purchase decision.

Stay up-to-date with current marketing strategies that are essential for businesses in the modern century.

3. Case studies get reinvented into content marketing stories

Now: Online reviews are more important than ever

To position your business as an expert resource, you need to create content that speaks to your audience to help them determine the best route to take. But we know it is hard to continually produce content that is relevant to your audience.

Most small businesses have plenty of satisfied customers. These happy customer experiences are a source of rich content that will help others understand how you solve a problem better than anyone else. Well written customer testimonials are one of the most powerful trust signals you can use in all of your marketing.

Just remember that your ideal clients are willing to pay you to do what you do best because it solves a problem or fulfills a need, regardless of how simple it may seem to you. Your existing clients and customers can often provide inspiration for your most powerful and engaging content spoken in the language your customer understands.

Now add powerful online reviews to your customer stories. Positive online reviews helps to increase trust and convert visitors into leads. Whether you are selling to the consumer or a business, your online reputation matters. Incorporate reputation management marketing into your plan and your business will stand out from your competition.

4. Marketing activities evolve from mobile enabled to mobile optimized

Now: Mobile takes the lead

For 2012, mobile support was mission critical and that mobile responsive design would be the most popular small business solution. 

A year later, all marketing activities began to be mobile optimized.

And now with more than 50% of online traffic coming from mobile, if your marketing doesn’t support mobile devices, you lose access to a big market.

If the first impression a buyer has of your brand on their smartphone or tablet is not the experience they expect, you can potentially lose a customer before you even know they are interested.

Review your marketing tools and determine if mobile access provides a user experience that doesn’t detract from the message you are trying to convey:

  • Can your email newsletters display correctly on a smartphone?

  • Does your website provide a quality user experience regardless of device?

  • Can the visitor fill in your contact forms or make a purchase from their mobile device?

Going forward, design your marketing around mobile first to be sure you can reach the widest possible audience.

5. No more static, boring websites

Now: Make your website a resource to educate your buyer

Your website needs to work for you. A static website that talks only about how great you are will fail. Visitors that can’t figure out what you can do for them will move on. Transform your website into a guide that helps your prospects understand:

  • Who you are

  • What services you offer and

  • How you can help them achieve their goals. 

Create quality, relevant content to attract your target market and position you as the expert in your industry. 

  • Educate your prospects

  • Capture their attention

  • Earn their respect

  • Gain their trust

Whether you like to produce content or not, you must find a way to create information that helps visitors decide to choose you over your competition. How you provide this information, whether it is via your blog, white papers or cornerstone content will depend on your target audience. Just make it easy for them to find the information they are looking for.

To help you manage your business through the coronavirus crisis, Bender Marketing has created a toolkit for businesses and a customizable flyer for businesses to communicate their coronavirus efforts to customers.

Bender Marketing — aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a Bender Marketing professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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