Four Small Business Marketing Trends for 2016

David Tubbs, Marketing & Communications Lead

David Tubbs, Marketing & Communications Lead

Every year, every month, every week, and every day marketing changes. It changes with technology, audience, consumer tastes, and even the changing seasons.

That being said, 2016 will bring with it four particular marketing trends that will impact the majority of small and medium-sized businesses in Waterloo Region.

Think Local Branding

Momentum has been building over the years for supporting and buying from small, local businesses. This year will see this sentiment be taken even further in Waterloo Region. Hyper-local brands are popping up all across North America and you only have to look to the clothing designer Peace Collective, and it’s “Home is Canada” and “Home is Toronto” apparel to see a company focus its efforts on a seemingly niche market but find significant growth.

The challenge for marketing locally-made products and locally-owned businesses is always wading through the noise of the larger players and big box stores. Instead of trying to compete directly with the big box stores on price, local businesses and stores should highlight their roots in the community. Home Hardware has done a tremendous job at doing this. Even though they are a nationally recognized brand, each Home Hardware is locally-owned and operated and they make this known in their marketing because they know it differentiates them from their competition. Think local, engage your current customers, and grow this year.

Inbound Marketing Battles: Social Media vs Content Marketing

The slow death of Push and Pray and Push and Spray marketing is finally upon us. The days of having flocks of customers find you from the yellow pages and printed flyers are a thing of the past. As modern marketing and advertising continue to evolve the role of inbound marketing is taking up a great deal of the conversation.

Inbound marketing are marketing campaigns that bring customers and clients in organically instead of having to go out and get a prospect’s attention with a flashy ad or sales team doing cold calls. The two main avenues for inbound marketing revolve around the community building aspects of social media and the thought leadership of content marketing that typically comes in the form of blog posts, white papers, case studies, and expert articles. This year the battle between social media and content marketing will persist for most businesses as both rely on each other but also take an enormous amount of time.

Take the time this year to figure out which one should be your main focus.

Continued Maturing of Pay-Per-Click Marketing

Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing has been around for over a decade and won’t disappear anytime soon as it remains the main revenue streams for several enormous online companies. Types of PPC marketing include Google Adwords, Facebook Advertising, and other Display Networks that change the advertiser “per-click”.

PPC marketing is exceptionally powerful for many businesses and especially service-based businesses looking to target a particular prospect. The ability to show up high on Google or Facebook when someone needs what you have to offer is enormously powerful and advertising on the search engine holds a tremendous amount of value. What will happen in 2016 is the further maturing of the advertising medium in the form of a more informed advertiser. More business owners will understand how to develop a cost-per-lead ratio and figure out how to truly make PPC marketing cost effective.

If a marketing consultant isn’t willing to talk about breaking down the cost-per-lead and ROI of a campaign to ensure you are making money through your PPC campaigns, you may need to look elsewhere for marketing help. And, if they don’t know what you are talking about when you say “cost-per-lead” please take a few steps backwards and run away.

Video Moves from Luxury to a Necessity

The second most used search website is YouTube. Not Yahoo. Not Bing. YouTube. According to a 2015 Hubspot study, video now accounts for about 50% of all mobile traffic, 55% of people watch online videos at least once a day, 85% of marketers have found video to be at least somewhat successful (18% found it very successful), and having a video link inside an email newsletter increases click-throughs by 65%. Those are some pretty staggering numbers.

Video marketing will continue its march in not only popularity among potential customers, but will grow from a marketing luxury into a necessity for business. This doesn’t mean every business needs to have a suite of video content for potential customers to watch, it means if you have a business website you need an engaging video piece or active YouTube channel.

Creating a strong, professional 90-second video is not cost prohibitive for most businesses as technology has brought the cost and production time down considerably over the last ten years. If you haven’t thought of making video part of your marketing efforts I would seriously consider making the effort in 2016.

Stay ahead of the marketing curve this year. It’s a long year, take advantage of each day.