By, Pat Sitkins

In a perfect world, local business owners and marketers would have unlimited budgets to try out different new marketing ideas. There are tens of thousands of strategies, platforms,  and marketing experiments available. However, the reality is that most marketing budgets are typically safely limited to concepts that have already proven themselves to work. 

There is nothing wrong with going with the tried and true when it comes to your marketing strategy but it’s crucial for a business owner or marketing department to have access to the latest industry data and trends to spot new opportunities. By knowing the applicable trends and seeing exactly where the company stands compared to competitors, local businesses are in a better position to exploit fresh areas of opportunity. 

Research shows that marketing spending will increase by around 14 percent this year. Continue reading to find out what marketing leaders and business owners will be focusing on.

Rounding out the firm’s digital presence

To make sure we are all on the same page: Your digital presence is the different ways in which your business is represented on the Internet. It includes the following:

  • You business website
  • Company listings in online business directories
  • Social media accounts such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube
  • Your business location on Google Maps, Google Local, etc.
  • Digital ads on Google and others
  • Online reviews
  • Mentions in the media

The pandemic has caused a huge shift toward everything online. People are spending much more time on the web. They are buying more online; and even if you have a strictly off-line business, it means there are more opportunities for them to find you online. If you are there. 

Personalization – Humanizing Your Brand

Personalization refers to the way in which your company interacts with your existing and prospective customers. To making feel people that they are important as individuals. Market leaders do this by using all available data to create content that is tailored to their interests and preferences. Statistics show that around 80 percent of consumers prefer to buy from a brand that offers personalized experiences.

The latest Internet technologies make personalization achievable for nearly all businesses. There are resources available for you, even as a local business, to find out who your website visitors are, and who your social media followers are – and create content that is targeted at those people’s individual interests.

Another way to humanize your brand is to SHOWCASE YOUR HUMANS. Putting your people out there via images, videos and content shows that you are more than a company, and actually a group of locals who live and work alongside your community. To me, this is still a massively untapped opportunity.

New Technology 

Market leaders will be spending heavily on the latest online technologies this year. These include AI, analytics software, CRMs, and other tools that are used to attract and retain customers. Currently, there are more than 8,000 different marketing technology tools to choose from. 

AI systems are increasingly popular in online customer sales and support. Chatbots in particular are increasingly being used to provide customer support on websites. In sales, these bots are able to analyze hundreds of data points about a specific user (including demographics, location, interaction with website, device, etc.) and then show that customer the most suitable content and offers. Used as support, they can (without first asking hundreds of questions) immediately use all the existing information about that customer to ensure that answers are relevant.

Reacting with Speed

Poll after poll states that marketing leaders plan to invest more this year in systems that help them to respond to changes within their own industry as well as local and global challenges faster. They say that the most important issues here are adapting to trends quickly and developing creative, unique content faster. 

Marketing leaders plan to achieve this by taking inventory of their current content and developing an action plan for future changes. If necessary, teams will have to be restructured so they are ready to make changes whenever the need arises, even at the shortest imaginable notice. 

Re-branding or refreshing their brand

As more information about who the company’s buyers, social media followers, and competitors are, it sometimes becomes important to update or change the company’s corporate image. This can either be a total image shift (re-branding) or tweaking your brand image to better match your current and potential customer base. 

Reactive re-branding refers to when a company reacts to market changes by adapting its existing corporate brand image. Proactive re-branding is when a business sees an opportunity to innovate, grow and tap into new customers.

We are seeing a lot of investment and planning around this, and the results are paying off for the companies who are going about it the right way.

The Bottom Line

The pandemic has changed the way in which businesses do marketing. Pandemic aside, it’s 2021 and current events have dramatically shaped the way people behave, shop, communicate, interact and think. The companies who are embracing change yet sticking to their values, and those companies that are best able to respond to new situations by using innovative thinking combined with the latest technologies are the most likely to benefit from the situation.