As life begins to return to normal, post the festive season, there is an air of reflection, planning and positivity. At this time of year, it feels like a fresh start, a new beginning and a time to reflect on what to continue doing or do differently. My year kicked off with an online networking event, it was a shock to the system, but it gave me a lot to think about. It was super positive and refreshing to hear how many small business owners wish to focus on growth but work smarter, not harder, and put importance on self-care this year.
During the network meeting, many were discussing what their word of the year would be. I found this an interestingly refreshing approach and one I had not considered before: choosing a word to underpin everything they do at work and home. Ideas that resonated with me, in particular, were balance, focus, consistency, curiosity and collaboration. I will ponder upon this a little further before finalising my vision board for the year ahead and working this approach into my goals, intentions and strategy for 2023.
At this time of year, many may find themselves at a crossroads in their business journey. It is interesting to see from conversations and posts on social media that many of my colleagues, friends and contacts are using the new year as an opportunity to take on a new role and accept a new challenge. Many are taking a new direction with their business, focusing on an addition to their career portfolio or returning to full-time employment. As we continue to reflect on our own path this year, from my discussions with clients and other small business owners, I wanted to look at some of the up-and-coming 2023 small business marketing trends which may influence us as we move forward.
1. Rising Costs
We only have to look at the news to see that the rising cost of living is having a tremendous impact on businesses of all sizes. If you have physical premises, the increased energy cost alone will be significant. When budgets are tight, the first thing which often gets reduced is the marketing budget, try if you can not do this. When many of your competitors around you are reducing their investment in promoting their business, this provides an ideal opportunity to keep promoting yours and keep the conversation going with potential clients.
2. Personalisation and Email Marketing
Over the last few years, we have seen the trend that customers want to be treated as individuals. For example, don’t send me an email offering me a great discount on some trainers when I have just brought a similar pair. As small business owners, we do not necessarily have the budget, access to technology or expertise to utilise some ground-breaking technology changes in the marketplace that larger organisations might have. There is good news, though, there are tools out there, even for small businesses, which are free or low cost to help us. For example, simply segmenting our email bases, and enabling us to provide the right message to our customers at the right time is a gift. Once your email marketing base gets to a reasonable size, it is worth working out the customer journey you wish your clients to take and segmenting accordingly.
3. Customer Retention
Moving on from defining our personalised customer journey thinking about how to retain our existing clients is also really important. It is cited to be over five times more expensive to obtain a new customer than engaging with a current one, so including marketing activity to cultivate these relationships and encourage brand advocacy is well worth the time investment.
4. Good customer service
Of course, part of retaining and engaging with our customers in an ongoing capacity is always to provide the best customer service you can. This feels like a foundation of good business sense to me, but it amazes me how often staff don’t have the right training or don’t care to be able to deliver this effectively.
The COP summit in Glasgow, in November 2021 really helped to raise the profile of the importance of the environment and that businesses of all sizes must take action. It is undoubtedly a current topic of conversation with my clients about how we can make their marketing more sustainable. Whether it be around choosing sustainable print options, not printing out so much at all or supporting charities working on environmental projects (such as Ecologi), there are lots of ways we can adopt a more sustainable approach to our marketing.
6. Video Marketing
We have seen in the way that the social media channels have evolved that video continues to be a growing way to engage with our potential audiences. Hubspot cites that a staggering 90% of marketers will use short-form video as we move forward into 2023. This makes sense as short-form content is easier and less time-consuming to create or absorb.
There are certainly a number of other topical trends for small businesses to consider, including: brand authenticity, privacy, generating good content, using your data more effectively and for larger organsations the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Please get in touch if you would like some help understanding how the 2023 small business marketing trends could influence your business to grow and flourish this year.