7 Big Marketing Trends Impacting Small Business - Forbes

7 Big Marketing Trends Impacting Small Business - Forbes

7 Big Marketing Trends Impacting Small Business - Forbes

Posted: 01 Feb 2020 09:05 AM PST

What are the big marketing trends impacting small business? I turned to industry experts for insight. Below are seven trends that small businesses in particular should pay attention to.

Trend #1: Main Street businesses will have a renaissance. Laura Goldberg, Chief Revenue Officer for Kabbage.

"Driven with the desire to take (much-needed) breaks from technologies, many are turning to older traditions to do timeless tasks. There's no model or algorithm that can replace your pipes, cut your hair, or guarantee tulips for your daughter's winter wedding. Strong relationships—and even more, personalization—are key in business and paramount in customer service. Local small businesses will see a renaissance in the future, both because of technology and despite its hype.

Trend #2: There will be Less Reliance on the Large Tech Players for Growth. Ben Gold, President at QuickBridge.

Ecommerce-based small businesses will start to shift focus away from trying to align with pure growth tech players and forge their own way with the help of smaller partners who offer more control over branding, customer relationships, and fulfillment. Increased government regulation of tech giants like Amazon and Google will facilitate this return to more independent distribution among smaller ecommerce players looking to gain competitive advantage.

Trend #3: Marketers Will Rely Less on Data and More on Great Storytelling. Cory Treffiletti, Global Head of Demand Gen, Webex.com and Cisco Collaboration

The past 10 years have seen the pendulum shift heavily towards the use of data for targeting and audience segmentation, however many promises of the data-driven marketer have not been realized. Smaller businesses are more strapped for budgets and as a result will spend less on data driven tactics. They will spend more of their time and resources against the development of stories that resonate with the audience and therefore self-select the people who will respond. 

Trend #4: Side Hustles will Become Real Businesses. Laura Goldberg, Chief Revenue Officer for Kabbage.

"Side hustles are only going to become more prominent in younger generations, starting as early as the teenage years. Since today's entry-level go-getters aren't as mesmerized by an office job, it makes sense — and challenges household brands to shift their mentalities. In the future, we'll see a greater number of side hustles navigating the nuances of becoming a bonafide business, from filing their articles of incorporation to applying for working capital. Technology is drastically reducing the friction to start and build a business, and as a result, we'll see more folks take the plunge into entrepreneurship." 

Trend #5: Increased Value Placed on Sustainability vs. Pure Growth. Ben Gold, President at QuickBridge.

"In contrast to the rapid growth and over-inflated valuations commonly seen over the last decade, small businesses and startups will shift to valuing profitability and sustainability over pure growth acquisition plays in the 2020s. This will be in part because of increased government scrutiny of these "unicorns," and these companies themselves value correcting and breaking apart. The result will be an increase in entrepreneurship and power going back into the hands of the small business owner."

Trend #6: AI Will Automate Mundane Tasks, Paving The Way For More Innovation. Cory Treffiletti, Global Head of Demand Gen, Webex.com and Cisco Collaboration

"AI is weaving itself into everyday life, and as it enters the small business landscape, business owners are finding ways to automate simple tasks like meeting notes, calendar scheduling, follow ups, etc. As AI begins to take these simple tasks off the plate of the small business owner, more of their time and day can be focused on collaborating and developing ideas that push business forward. This kind of innovation is a better use of time and creates new revenue streams, higher margins and a better overall business landscape."

Trend #7: Small Business Will Go Cashless, Relying on Digital Payment Methods.  Cory Treffiletti, Global Head of Demand Gen, Webex.com and Cisco Collaboration

"More small businesses are going direct to consumers and selling online. Even those with a physical storefront are finding that digital payment methods are commonplace, so they will possibly go cashless, no longer needing to maintain cash on-hand and deal with the day-in and day-out burden of managing physical currency. Digital eco-systems for payment and management are more affordable and definitely more convenient."

 Join the Discussion: @KimWhitler

Ask SCORE: Mistakes small businesses must avoid - Richmond.com

Posted: 01 Feb 2020 07:00 PM PST

QUESTION: I understand that many startup businesses fail in the first two years. Can you offer insights as to why and how to avoid the most common mistakes?

ANSWER: There are pitfalls to avoid and roadblocks to overcome.

However, the main reason so many entrepreneurs fail is inadequate capitalization.

A critical piece of a business plan is determining startup and ongoing monthly expenses until the break-even point.

Unless you do your homework and know, with a reasonable degree of certainty, how much you need to begin operations, you will fail. Unless you project both expected income and monthly operating expenses, you will fail.

A good budgeting rule is to be conservative on the income side and liberal on the expense side. If you follow this, your surprises will be of a positive nature.

While borrowed money may be an answer, it also contributes to the monthly outgo.

Ideally, you fund your business with monies you have saved over time.

In addition to financial considerations, there are several others you need to be aware of and try to avoid:

  • Burnout: Do not try to wear too many hats. Plan to grow your business by doing what you do best and delegate the other duties.
  • Large accounts: Avoid having all your eggs in one basket. It is far, far better to spread the risk by having multiple small- and medium-sized accounts and not be dependent on a few large customers that can cripple you if they leave.
  • Collections: Wherever possible, request payment at point of sale. If you must extend credit, secure a down payment and monitor your accounts receivables. Make sure your customers understand and agree to your payment policy. Remember a sale is not final until you have received all monies owed.
  • Competition and changing trends: While it is important to secure new accounts, never take for granted your current customers. Be aware your competition is lurking in the shadows. We live in a changing world and what's trendy today may change tomorrow. Stay alert to changing tastes, and be the first to offer them.

Small-business owners and startup entrepreneurs do not have to go it alone.

There are a number of resources available without charge.

For instance, a local SCORE business counselor can assist in developing a viable business and marketing plan.

Small businesses talk pros and cons of Amazon - The Advocate

Posted: 01 Feb 2020 10:15 PM PST

While many small manufacturers and retailers weigh the pros and cons of being on Amazon, officials with PreSonus, a Baton Rouge-based company that manufactures and sells audio equipment, said they are just another retailer with a loyal customer base.

"For us, dealing with them has been a good experience," said Jim Boitnott, chief operating officer.

While PreSonus makes equipment for consumers and for professional musicians and producers, the company sells items aimed at the general household through Amazon. "That's a site consumers are going to first," Boitnott said.

PreSonus sells its Eris 3.5 speaker monitors through Amazon, which have been the top-selling reference monitors on the site for some time. "We've definitely had greater sales with Amazon," he said. "Sometimes success breeds success and this has helped us."

But overall, Boitnott said PreSonus' online sales are "pretty even" between Amazon, other retailers and the company store.

Small business owners selling online must weigh the pros and cons of listing their products on Amazon. For many, there's no question — the company provides small businesses instant access to hundreds of millions of consumers worldwide. Companies without shipping departments can turn over packing and mailing to Amazon. And selling on Amazon can help a company place high in Google and other online search results. But the costs can be hard for small companies to absorb. Another downside for some business owners is they don't have direct access with customers who buy through Amazon.

The research firm eMarketer estimates Amazon's share of the online U.S. retail market at nearly 38%.

While many companies want Amazon to help them get established, older businesses want to increase sales.

But Amazon isn't always the best way for businesses to reach customers, particularly if they sell very specific merchandise. They may find a greater number of customers on online marketplaces that focus on just one retail category — for example, Reverb for guitars and other musical instruments and accessories, or Newegg for electronics and components. Similarly, Etsy attracts buyers looking for crafts, vintage items, clothing and home furnishings.

Lauren Haydel is on both sides of the Amazon issue. Fleurty Girl, her 11-year-old boutique that sells T-shirts and furnishings inspired by New Orleans, doesn't sell any items through the online retail giant. But New Orleans Famous Praline Co., which she bought in 2019, sells candy through the website.

Keeping things that way makes sense, Haydel said.

"Fleurty Girl is more brand heavy. We're offering things nobody else does," she said. "When people buy from Fleurty Girl, they came to shop with us."

In contrast, it makes sense to list a food product like pralines on Amazon. People are coming to the website specifically looking for the candy, and Haydel wants to make sure that the praline company is showing up in their results. "A Google search is not as good as an Amazon shop search," she said.

Right now, the praline company's online sales are split 60/40 between their own website and Amazon. But she said the scale is sliding toward more online sales through Amazon.

Even with the increasing business for the praline company, Haydel doesn't ever see listing Fleurty Girl items on Amazon. "It doesn't feel personal, and I love the personal relationship we make through sales," she said. "It feels like a small handshake instead of a hug."

Amazon may not be the right sales channel for many small businesses, said Will Haire, CEO of BellaVix, a consulting firm that helps companies develop online selling strategies. First, Amazon may not accept the products being sold. And if they're very low priced items, a small business isn't likely to make much money.

"Your margins should be 50% to 100% compared to your price," Haire said. Companies should be prepared to advertise on Amazon to help themselves stand out, he said.

Marion Kaiser, owner/manager of the Louisiana Sunshine Soap Co., said her business is too small to go on Amazon. Kaiser started selling the handmade soaps out of her Sunshine home six years ago, after she retired from working for the state.

"I'm comfortable as long as the business is paying for itself and generating a little extra income for me," she said. Kaiser does sell soap through her website; last year she had nearly $1,400 in sales through her site.

"I'm doing so well locally, I don't know if I want to overwhelm myself," she said. "It's just me, I don't have any employees."

Companies must also be ready to comply with the rules on any marketplace, not just Amazon. For example, not being able to contact customers to advertise or market a seller's merchandise is an issue. That can be frustrating for sellers who want to follow up on a sale in hopes of getting repeat business. When business owners make sales on their own website, they have buyers' email addresses — not so with online marketplaces that want their cut of a transaction.

While many owners understandably want sales from their own website, where they're not paying fees, they're not losing sales to Amazon, Haire said. Many shoppers, especially younger ones, prefer sites like Amazon.

"They're less likely to go to somebody's website and more likely to go to the marketplace," he said.

West Virginia groups work to cultivate small business - WV News

Posted: 01 Feb 2020 09:00 PM PST

MORGANTOWN — Small business in West Virginia has perhaps more resources than ever that are adjusting to the modern age.

"I think it's a very competitive time that we live in," said Tara St. Clair, lead for the Encova Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Chamber's College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University. "It's a very exciting time."

While it's exciting, it is challenging in some aspects — including navigating social media, online resources, a plethora of information and balancing schedules, according to those working in the field.

The Secretary of State's Office is aiming to make some of that easier with its One Stop Business Portal, which has all the government services one would need to start a new business under one roof — the Secretary of State's Office, state Tax Office, the Department of Labor and WorkForce West Virginia.

"It's very difficult to bring state agencies with different secretaries and different directors all together," said the secretary of state's Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director Mike Queen, adding that the Legislature-requested service came together when Secretary of State Mac Warner came into office a couple years ago.

In addition to the One Stop Business Center located in Charleston, the initiative also created regional business hubs in Clarksburg and in Martinsburg to offer an "immediate service" for people wanting to starting a business.

"West Virginia is the only state in the nation that has four agencies under one roof in a single location designed to make it easy to get in business," Queen said.

And having that claim is integral to the Mountain State's attitude on business and entrepreneurship, according to St. Clair, whose expertise is in developing strategy to implement new programs and expand existing programs, as well as working collaboratively to plan, organize and coordinate with institutions to enhance outreach program participation.

"This is a big part of West Virginia's culture," she said. "We have a lot of people who are passionate about helping small business here."

The West Virginia Small Business Development Center served 1,445 clients in 2019 and offered more than 7,000 coaching hours, according to its annual report. The majority of small businesses in the state, Queen said, have under 100 employees.

Having conveniently located and expedited services makes a difference for business owners in getting registered or changing legal designations quickly and easily, with some even accomplishing these in as little as an hour to 24 hours for varying fees, according to Queen.

"Our business and licensing division's motto is 'it's never been easier to start a business in West Virginia' and it has never been easier," he said, adding that annual reports and filings are required of the business community to keep these agencies informed and up-to-date on what businesses exist and what they're doing.

"We've taken advantage of the technology and the funding the Legislature has provided to us. ... It makes it convenient and immediate."

That convenience factor makes a difference to many business owners with their independent working schedules, especially those who are second-income entrepreneurs — meaning they have a day job and work on their business during their free time like on weekends and after they punch out.

Tutors, artists, musicians, consultants and other similar professionals "far outnumber" the other registered businesses in the state, according to Queen.

Each kind of business owner or entrepreneur faces his or her own challenges, and work is still being done to meet all of those needs.

"I think our small business community struggles with loans, financing and access to capital," Queen said, adding that time is perhaps the largest factor for those second-income entrepreneurs. "I think we could do a better job working with our colleges, universities and community colleges providing educational opportunities for these entrepreneurs to advance their businesses."

St. Clair is part of an emerging team of professionals coming together from across the state to start an entrepreneurship ecosystem conference, which is set for the beginning of April in Charleston to "connect the dots" of entrepreneurship and further strengthen what the state has to offer for current and potential business owners.

"These people are passionate about helping the good people of West Virginia," she said. "We're really at the beginning state of this — teaming up as a state to figure out how to work together."

For more information on the secretary of state's One Stop Business Portal, visit https://business4.wv.gov.

‘Indie Wed’ brings focus to small business impact on weddings - WGN TV Chicago

Posted: 01 Feb 2020 05:05 PM PST

Data pix.

CHICAGO — For the last 11 years, "Indie Wed," located in Ravenswood, brings focus to the impact small businesses can make on wedding planning.

From catering to clientele, from photos to food, it hopes to be a relaxing event for upcoming newlyweds.

It even features a full pretzel wall.

"They're pretty interactive as catering events go," Andrew Stanton with Northern Fork said. "It gives the guest something to do outside of just eating the food."

Almost 100 vendors took over three floors on Saturday.

The nod to the nontraditional is all around as social media has changed the way weddings are done.

"We perform aerial, or pole dancing," Francesca Garcia of Fempress Fit said." We do bachelorette parties, bridal showers, birthday parties and any type of girls night out parties."

When it comes to dresses, one of the best sellers is a white suit. Another blends in silk and wool.

"I think most people want to make a special twist on a wedding dress," said Goli Parvinian of Goli June. "They want to make it more wearable and that the big investment they're making isn't going to waste."

A way to tie the knot, just not necessarily the way it used to be.


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