Since 2008, the small business industry has been brimming with uncertainty. Although the economy shows some sparks and sputters of a return to "normal," one thing every small business can agree on -- there's a "new normal" in town. Learning how to acclimate to the "new norm" is paramount to the future success and survival of your small business.
Without a doubt, new trends are emerging that redefine the "new normal" for small business. They influence what your small business will need to do to remain relevant. Status quo is no longer a viable option for small business owners.
Wasn't it Burger King who adopted the "have it your way" commercial in 1976? That was some smart, futuristic marketing! Who knew that a 1976 slogan would so aptly describe today's consumers.
One size no longer fits anyone. Consumers are looking for products or services that adapt to their unique needs. To meet your clients' call for customization, rethink your product/service offerings and make them more flexible. Think Gumby!
The traditional sales model has been evolving for some time now. Consumers still want to buy; they don't want to be sold. Advancements in technology, including robust websites, social media, and an inbound marketing approach, make it easier for consumers to make informed purchases.
Instead of relying on the "sales professional" to teach them the features and benefits of a product/service, today's consumer are conducting extensive online research and making their buying choices. They self-sell.
As you transform your sales approach, think "pull" rather than "push" technology.
Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, was the one who said, "The only thing that is constant is change." Although he penned this phrase around 400 B.C., many small business owners adopted a "set it and forget it" philosophy of business growth and development.
The rapid innovations in technology has certainly leveled the playing field for small businesses...but don't get too comfortable or attached. Staying stationary is not a viable business option.
"Nimble and quick" -- a term previously reserved for St. Nick -- is the hallmark as small business learns to embrace a culture of adaptability.
Over the past few years, it has become more challenging for small business owners to gain traction -- especially if functioning as a generalist. Although you want to hedge your bet and "be everything to everyone," the small business marketing message is getting lost in the ocean of marketing messages.
Marketing personas and niche marketing help small business owners pop up in the crowd with targeted messaging that is music to the ears of your target audience.
In addition to targeted messaging, don't forget responsive websites! Meet the client where they are -- whether its in their office on their desktop or on the go with their smart phone. (P.S. 94 percent of smartphone owners are looking for local information on mobile devices.)
Thank goodness! This is my personal favorite. Thanks to advancing technology (again), small business owners don't have to rely solely on their "gut intuition" when it comes to decision making.
The widespread, and increasingly affordable, access to analytics allows small business to make smarter decisions with an eye toward a better return on their precious investments.
Whew! My head is spinning. How about yours? And, this is just the tip of the iceberg. With lots more changes in the wind, small businesses with adaptability, flexibility, and agility will lead the way. There's a "new norm" in town! There's no going back.