[Image courtesy of https://www.chanty.com/]

There are (or will be) a million articles coming out in the next few months about marketing trends for 2019. That can be useful, but quite often they are not provided with a use-case which results in epidemics like LinkedIn filling up with driving selfie videos (ironically discussing the need to be a responsible leader in the community).

Here are a few trends being adopted, but rather than just listing them, we have added some reality to them (hence “realitised”) to show how they could be of value to a small businesses.

Live Videos

Live videos are likely to continue to grow in popularity in 2019, particularly for small businesses that have less bureaucracy to go through in order to “publish”. The benefits of using live video in your marketing mix is that it is less predictable and scripted (which can communicate personality and authenticity), its costs very little, and anyone can do it.

Realitised

Great idea if you have a purpose for it.

Blogs were cool, podcasts were cool, and videos were cool until they started to be used as “me-toos” rather than “here is something that is actually useful to a specific audience.” Live video is a rad idea if there is some point to the broadcast, but just posting “live” doesn’t make it consumable.

Think televised yachting: Just because it’s live doesn’t mean it is worth watching.

Ideas

  • Live Q&A with a client
  • Live Q&A with a staff member
  • Live broadcast of an event or presentation
  • Live broadcast of someone else doing something cool for someone else

Having the human touch will be more persuasive than ever

Technological advancements have seduced us into looking for easier, more automated ways of communicating with the world. This works wonderfully well if you are a faceless, systems-based operation like eBay or Amazon but for small businesses that rely on relationships, automation and system-based-communication commoditises our operations and compromises long-term relationships with clients.

Realitised

Being alive costs money. On any given day, waking up and stepping outside will cost you something. The general populous is becoming more sensitive to spending, not so much with regards to how much, but with whom. Behaviours such as paying extra for free range eggs, paying a little more for domestic products, and choosing the local coffee shop over the franchise are still in growth mode. If we have to spend money, we may as well spend it with those who we believe are more deserving. Being serviced by “automation” makes us feel like a barcode rather than an individual, and hence damages the relationship.

Ideas

  • Client Christmas party (to celebrate them).
  • Have the director/business owner available to all, not insulated from clients.
  • A human-being answering the phone. With genuine gratitude for being alive.

Popularity of chatbots will grow in 2019

Chatbots have existed for almost a decade, and analysts are saying that 2019 will yield greater adoption. They can be especially valuable for small businesses that field a lot of quick questions, but the consequence is that someone needs to be managing them at most times (otherwise it becomes a quasi email system).

Realitised

Who is your audience? Will they use a chatbot more than call/sms/DM/phone? Do you have the resources to do it better than average? What will the overhead be on your business to do it well? Will it improve or compromise the client experience with your brand?

Ideas

  • Consider setting a response time promise on communications before implementing a chatbot. For example, one hour for SMS, two hours for DMs, and four for emails. This way you can set the expectations with your enquirer without needing to have someone on a chatbot for the day.

Voice searches

Optimising your website for SEO is great, but how is your site for voice-based search? It is predicted that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice-based. This is particularly interesting as it means that websites will need to be tailored to suit voice-based searches rather than traditional text searches.

Realitised

Walk down the street on a quiet evening and you are bound to hear the odd “Hey Google…” or “Okay Alexa…” booming from the family home. With the increase in voice activated appliances (and cars), this will become more significant, particularly if the big Goog decides that it is how it wants websites to be designed. I don’t expect that right now is essential to vo-op (voice-optimise) your site, but within the next 12 months, it likely will.

Ideas

  • Start the education. Trying to catch-up on progress when it is already in full swing is brutal and painful. So start your vo-op education process now so that when the time comes to pull the trigger, you will be doing so from a place of education rather than panic or #fomo.

Social media influencers

This is my least favourite trend. It’s like celebrity endorsements on a small business exploitative scale. There is very little logic in why celebrities manipulate our buying decisions (Power-Balance Bands for example), but they do – I am as guilty as anyone. I desperately want a Roger Federer tennis racket and I don’t even play. I am trying to convince myself to spend $300 on a pro-grade tennis racket so that I can hit dog-chewed tennis balls against the back shed.

Engaging micro-influencers to promote your business isn’t new but it is projected to be on the rise in 2019.

Micro-influencers are social media personalities with a moderate but loyal following. They are more budget friendly for small businesses than mainstream celebs, and can be more accessible.

Realitised

I don’t like the idea myself, but it depends on what your business goals are. If it’s max profits by any method, it is worth a go. If you are building a reputation for authenticity, then perhaps not. Regardless, the truth is it works. Understanding your clients’ buying or persuasion process should be understood beforehand though.

Ideas

  • If you are considering this outlet, make sure your own social media process is tight. Having an ambassador or influencer on your side will be pointless if you don’t have your own level of engagement with their brand or their followers. Fundamentally this process is a pipeline builder but if the pipeline management process sucks, it won’t do as expected regardless of how powerful the InstaCeleb is.

WWTIG (What We Think In General)

Every marketing tactic or approach that any business needs is already out there in most cases. The issue is rarely the tactic, but the process in choosing the tactic (who is your target, where do they spend time, what do they want to hear, who else is servicing them etc.) Cool new creative campaigns are kickass and a lot of fun. But in most cases the investment is better spent on understanding your audience more deeply and facilitating what they need now and will need in the future.