If you are like me, you are probably wondering what happened to 2012. The year flew by…even though there were times during endless political bickering, strange natural events, and Notre Dame’s return to national football prominence that it felt like it would never end! Either way, 2012 has been a year of ups and downs. In the business world, we have seen economic ebbs and flows that would have made Noah sick. But the question now is what to expect in 2013 (this whole falling off the fiscal cliff thing aside).
To answer this question, we scoured the best business websites, blogs and publications to bring you the Signs.com 10 Trends for 2013.
1. Mobile Explosion
Coming into 2013, if you view mobile and tablet marketing as an afterthought, you are already behind the times. Mobile marketing might sound intimidating but there are a lot of opportunities that small and local businesses can use to their advantage with minimal efforts. Implement mobile payment options like Google Wallet or my favorite, Square. Set up social profiles on Facebook and Foursquare and encourage your customers to “check in” or get them to write a review on Yelp. At the least, every business that has a website should have a mobile optimized version.
2. Social Media as a Customer Service Channel
The term ‘engagement’ has been a buzzword for a couple years now, especially when paired with social media. But recently companies are realizing the importance of having dedicated resources available to use social media to respond immediately to custom complaints and support issues. This trend will only increase in 2013 as businesses increasingly adopt social media as a viable marketing channel.
3. Small Businesses Going Online
More and more small businesses are going online. Whether it is launching an e-commerce site, a blog that showcases their industry knowledge and expertise, or just an informational website, small businesses are recognizing the importance of having an online presence. This also includes developing and maintaining social media profiles. Be on the lookout for more brands taking advantage of visual based social sites like Pinterest to show off their products.
4. Content Continues To Grow
As consumers continue to ignore ads, online pop-ups, and banners, marketers are quickly moving toward cultivating content in order to grab buyers’ attention. Blogs, videos, webinars, guest postings and other forms of content creation will dominate the marketing landscape in 2013. Businesses will look to promote their content in hopes that consumers will share it, thereby making the content itself a low-cost form of advertising.
5. Data Guides Decisions
Ah… data! The term that turns living, breathing human beings into segmented bits of statistics in a marketing report. This next year, data will be even more important. Once merely a tool for large corporations, data is now easily accessible and easily implemented right down to the microbusiness. From online analytics to point-of-sale interactions, every consumer touchpoint is a great resource for data. If you want to know how to implement the use of data into your business, check out this good article at InfoFree.com.
6. Get Ready for More YouTube
Videos are great for creating easily digestible and shareable content. Once a platform for kids jumping off roofs to display their unbelievable stupidity, video sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo have exploded with corporate channels, clever marketing campaigns and viral videos that have made some brands household names. Of course, just creating a video doesn’t guarantee success. Case in point, the terribly bad, yet terribly funny video by Blackberry maker RIM. Enjoy!
7. Smarter Hiring Practices
The combination of macroeconomic uncertainties, huge amounts of job seekers, and lack of internal resources has pushed more and more businesses toward adopting smarter hiring strategies. In 2013, we will see companies, big and small, utilizing external recruiting services to filter through hundreds of applicants for job openings. Businesses will also look to develop new ways to entice employees to stay in their current positions since replacing/competing for top talent is becoming more difficult. Finally, some businesses will opt to outsource certain functions to maintain fixed costs over the unknown costs of hiring, training and keeping full time employees.
8. Offline Meets Online
Signs.com specializes in offline marketing, so of course we are huge advocates of banners, yard signs and decals. But, we are also an online company, so we fully understand the importance of having an online presence. In 2013, we believe we will see more and more companies combining the two strategies into a single cohesive strategy. Companies will use offline marketing tactics to not only drive sales but also online engagement. It won’t be enough to simply sell product to someone who saw a sign; businesses will look to make that consumer “like” them on Facebook or “follow” them on Twitter in order to create a brand advocate.
9. Social Responsibility
Environmentally focused, socially responsible, sustainability, going “Green”—these are all phrases that have increased in popularity over the last few year but in 2013, these are going to be significant differentiators for businesses looking to gain an advantage in their industries. The caveat will be who can prove social responsibility not just say it. Consumers are beginning to demand that the brands they support engage in socially responsible practices. In many cases, they are even willing to pay a premium.
10. The Rise of Solopreneurs
Expect to see a lot of solopreneurs this year. Because of the economy and those stringent hiring practices I talked about earlier, many people will turn to starting home-based business (like our friend Brad Manuel of Nothing Knew) or small startups as a means of a second income. The good news is that when times are tough, people get creative, and that bodes well for us in the future. Is it too early to start talking about 2014?
Think we missed something? Let us know.