By Rieva Lesonsky

Most of us small business owners start the new year with mixed emotions. We’re hopeful and optimistic about growing our businesses, yet with anxious about all the challenges we know we’ll face.

To find out what lies ahead, I’ve collected a number of tips, predictions and advice from people in the know. We’ll be exploring general consumer, financial and economic trends, as well as what to expect in the fields of marketing, technology, retail, HR and money.

We also have contributions from guest authors—just look for the What to Expect in 2019 illustration all week.

19 Marketing Predictions

What will marketing look like in 2019? Here are some predictions from CMOs and influencers via Pan Communications.


6 Business Development Strategies to Implement Now

Guest post by Matt Masterson, VP of Business Development of Moxē , a Florida-based integrated marketing agency

1—Non-sales touches with clients: For those that work at marketing firms or various B2C businesses, it’s very easy to develop a habit of only reaching out to clients regarding projects and business-related needs. However, taking the time to reach out to simply say hi just might be a nice touch. Take a client to coffee or offer them a great read. Sometimes a little  really can go a long way.

2—Building up prospects for 2019: One good thing about a new year is that it gives people the opportunity to begin anew and can provide time to re-strategize. Using January to effectively evaluate your 2018 can help you successfully plan for 2019. What were your wins? What were your losses? Evaluate what worked and what didn’t. Is there a list of potential clients you want to go after? Put that list together and begin implementing it in 2019. Always remember to work smarter and not harder.

3—Automate follow up: Despite best intentions, some executives and business leaders often forget to follow up on an initial email or voicemail.  There are a ton of apps and tools you can use to remind you to follow up with a prospect or potential partner. Chances are your customer relationship management (CRM) has this feature built in, but if not, Boomerang is an app that is highly recommended. Don’t drop the ball in 2019!

4—Handwritten notes: This is old school and has been around forever, because it works. Email is faster and more convenient but is less personal. Whether you’re the owner of a lawn maintenance business or work at a marketing agency, earning clients is about gaining trust. If you are willing to take the time to personalize a message, you are likely going to take the time to do things right in the sales process and after the sale is made.

5—Expand your sales team: Sometimes the people in your network know exponentially more people than you do, so leverage their relationships to have them sell on your behalf. In any industry there are people who sell a product that is complimentary or supportive to yours and vice versa. For example, in marketing (creative/brand development), we’ve shared business with patent and trademark attorneys for clients looking to launch a product or new company. We handle the creative and marketing, while the attorney handles the trademarking and patent on the product. Make it a point to find those people in 2019 and make them an advocate for you and an extension of your sales efforts.

6—Give first: Get involved in your industry and donate your time and knowledge. When people see you giving and contributing in a meaningful way without the expectation of receiving something in return, you develop trust, credibility, and respect, the three most important traits a salesperson can have in the mind of a buyer.



YouTube Influencer Videos

In 2018, the number of channels earning six figures per year on YouTube grew by more than 40% year over year! To learn more about the growing impact of YouTube influencer marketing, Shorr Packaging analyzed more than 1,500 YouTube user channels

The study focused on the two most popular types of influencer marketing videos on YouTube. “Unboxing Videos” and “Haul Videos” and found the following trends:

  • Top Haul categories: clothing—59%
  • Top Unboxing categories: toys—29%, phones & accessories—16%
  • Global trends: The U.S. has the most active users, followed by the UK and India
  • Estimated annual earnings for the average user: The typical HAULer earns less than $6,000/year; the typical UNBOXer earns no money!!

Check out more information in the infographic below.


The Transformation of Small Business Marketing

Today’s small businesses have more marketing options than ever. The number of tools and apps designed for small business has skyrocketed. From automation and social media management to customer relationship management (CRM) and analytics, the increasing amount of information and capabilities is powerful.

But with power, an array of tools and apps to choose from, and rapid changes in marketing trends, comes complexity and uncertainty in knowing which methods and tools are effective and deliver results. Additionally, with rapid change in technology, it can be challenging for small business owners to gain in-depth knowledge about the latest marketing trends and understand which tactics work best for their business.

Infusionsoft’s 2019 Small Business Marketing Trends Report indicates small business owners may be rethinking their approach to marketing and possibly considering a different approach in 2019. In fact, after collecting four years of Small Business Marketing Trends Report data, Infusionsoft is seeing changes in the way small business owners think about marketing.

What’s to come in 2019? Here’s a summary of what to expect:

  • More small businesses are being left behind when it comes to digital marketing. In fact, 29% of respondents say they won’t be using digital marketing in 2019.
  • Lack of time and resources continues to hinder small business owners with 22% citing this as their biggest challenge.
  • Small business owners are more in the know when it comes to their marketing efforts—55% know whether their efforts are effective, while 33% don’t know if they’re working.
  • Social media promotion continues to play a strong role for small business—48% plan to use social media as one or more of their marketing tactics in 2019.
  • Facebook is still the leading social media platform for small businesses with 47% of business owners regularly using the social platform.
  • Gaining and keeping customers remains the top marketing goal for small business in 2019.
  • While social media remains the top marketing tactic small business owners are budgeting more for in 2019 (30%), a significant number of business owners (46%) report they won’t be spending more on marketing in 2019. This may be a result of more small business owners knowing how effective their tactics are and not seeing a need for investing additional funds towards marketing. It also could be attributed to many small businesses working with a limited marketing budget.


Should You Be Worried about Facebook and Privacy?

Facebook has certainly been in the news lately for a whole host of issues. But how has that affected small businesses? A lot it turns out. Check out how small business owners are feeling about Facebook these days, courtesy of a report from Insureon and Manta.

  • 44% of small business owners no longer trust Facebook to protect their business data
    • More than 50% of the business owners surveyed say they have changed the way they use Facebook for business.
  • 25% exercise more caution about the content their business accounts’ shares, likes, and comments.
  • 23% updated their business accounts’ privacy settings.
  • 16% are more cautious about how they target customers and followers with boosted posts.
  • 5% deleted their business’s Facebook page.
  • 48% haven’t made any changes to their business’s Facebook page.

Regarding small businesses and their Facebook accounts:

  • 51% of small business owners have a business Facebook account.
  • 86% of small business owners manage their business Facebook account themselves.
  • 76% use their personal Facebook page for work purposes.


Top 12 Social Media Trends

International social media analytics firm Talkwalker assembled some of the world’s top social media experts to put together the ultimate list of the Top 12 Social Media Trends That Will Impact 2019. Some of the trends include: using big data, the importance of PR, how AI will be incorporated in communications, the impact of AR and VR, the power of brand purpose, and how Gen Z will change the way we market.

Get the details in their blog.


The Power of Personalization

Online sales were expected to soar this past holiday season (they did!) And marketers need to adjust. Oz Etzioni, the CEO of Clinch, notes that businesses increased their social media spend, particularly in Facebook Stories and Instagram Stories. But, he adds, while there is no question that social ads are powerful, marketers need to amp up their creative strategies to win over new and returning consumers.

Etzioni says it’s important to deploy the power of personalization when it comes to marketing. Here are some of his thoughts:

  • The importance of personalization has skyrocketed; it is critical that first-party data is leveraged in the right way so that brands are able to take advantage of everything all platforms have to offer.
  • Consumers expect highly personalized shopping experiences and are willing to spend more money when brands deliver messages that are relevant to their needs. According to a recent Clinch study, 64% of consumers are comfortable with brands collecting some form of data—from demographic to social media profile information—to deliver a more relevant, personalized ad experience.
  • Brands need to commit to building personalization-first strategies to create more meaningful consumer connections. You don’t want to target someone who has already bought the exact same product being advertised!
  • An effective Instagram Stories ad shouldn’t feel like an ad at all; it has the opportunity to take a straight brand awareness strategy to a direct response one.
    • High Engagement—Consumers can interact with ads, and purchase products without leaving the Instagram platform. The ability to “swipe up” is extremely effective, and when optimized it can be extremely powerful.
    • Positive Experience—Instagram Stories can feel like native content, not an ad.


The Future of Digital Marketing

Sunil Karkera, Global Head at TCS Interactive at Tata Consultancy Services believes businesses will be changing their approach to digital marketing in 2019.

He says, “In 2019, digital marketing will make a major shift from a transactional focus (doing business, getting things done) to an experiential focus (building a relationship). Consumers will reward [businesses] that deliver a holistic, branded experience. Smart [businesses] will be investing in developing this kind of complete experience instead of a siloed experience of a particular unit or transaction. Marketing that is driven by experience is an incredibly powerful way to build, maintain, and strengthen relationships.

“Great marketing prizes creativity and experience more than technology and operations (as important as those are). This will require embracing cloud computing and automation to a much greater degree and learning how to make the most of API-driven ecosystems. Ultimately, this will make life simpler for CMOs and help them focus on the holistic experience.

CMOs in 2019 will embrace a more agile marketing approach… And in one of the more interesting uses of technology, we believe CMOs will start to use machine learning and artificial intelligence in the creative process, automating some of the more mundane aspects of producing great work.”


Visual Trends Forecast

Adobe has released the next iteration of its annual 2019 Visual Trends Forecast, which is designed to help marketers and brands connect with consumers using on-trend, culturally relevant imagery.

Take a look at the blog to learn how to convey what the new trends, such as “Natural Instincts” and “Creative Democracy” mean.


Social Trends for 2019

Hootsuite recently  released its 3rd-annual Social Trends 2019 Report, revealing the biggest opportunities business owners, marketers and social media professionals should seize this year. 2018 marked a true inflection point for social media, and this report distills the five key social media trends for brands to watch and adapt in 2019:

  1. Rebuilding trust: Brands get human as the circle of trust on social media tightens.
  2. Storifying social: Content teams adapt as stories offer new formats for sharing.
  3. Closing the ads gap: More competition on paid social requires marketers to up their game.
  4. Cracking the commerce code: Improved social shopping technologies (finally) fuel sales.
  5. Messaging eats the world: Customers demand better 1:1 social experiences.

You can see the full report here.

Marketing stock photo by bleakstar/Shutterstock