Don’t Let The Year 2014 Catch You Unprepared To Grow Your Business

As 2013 rapidly comes to an end and a New Year is on the horizon, I’m confident 2014 planning is well underway. As an entrepreneur, don’t wait too long.
If you’re not doing so, it’s time to begin focusing on next year’s plans.
As business owners, it’s easy to think about being “in the business” versus “thinking about the business”. In others words, we have a tendency of getting bogged down in the day-to-day details as opposed to thinking about factors which may affect longer-term planning and growth.
With this in mind, I’ve identified five marketing trends which may affect your business next year.


1. Increased Usage of Hard Data with Results
Continued use of hard data is what’s important when it comes to assessing business results.
While still essential for your business, the days of just measuring “top-line” results are still critical, but there’s a push to focus on results based your investment. In other words, begin to ask yourself tough questions. For example, why is this important to consumers, “so what” and how will you effectively measure results and your ROI?
A recent survey by Adobe of 1,000 US marketers shows that marketers are most concerned about not just reaching customers but, whether or not, marketing initiatives are working, effective and are cost efficient.
Same for your business.
As an entrepreneur, there’s a tendency to implement ideas without understanding business implications. Time to shift the paradigm and understand, it’s not just the topline or bottom line that matters, but critical data analysis in-between. This will enable you to make relevant decisions focused on affecting business results in a positive manner.
2. The Power of Social Media Will Continue to Increase
Do you really understand the power of social media and is it effectively integrated as part of your business/marketing plan? If not, think about how you can leverage it.
Small and large businesses have been concerned about reaching customers and building relationships by focusing on traditional media approaches. While this is should be an integral part of your strategic approach, the above-referenced Adobe study indicated that respondents “… overwhelmingly feel that companies won’t succeed unless they have a strong digital marketing approach…”
Pew research recently published a study regarding social. A brief summary follows:

  • 78% of adult internet users watch or download online videos, up from 69% in 2009
  • The percent of online adults using video-sharing sites has grown from 33% to the current figure of 72%
  • The percentage of adult internet users who post videos online is growing rapidly

The question is this—how is your business using this growing and emerging communications tool? Do you have a digital marketing media plan which is part of an integrated communications plan?
If not, what’s holding you back?
3. Analytical Rigor
Historically, “soft results” were used to measure the impact of your marketing efforts and ultimately, its impact on overall business results. Analytics such as revenue, number of customers, sales, and market share were primary data points. While still important, you’ll see an increase in the usage of real-time data.
As an entrepreneur, it’s critical you develop such analytics for your business which take you beneath the surface.
Many small business owners are not comfortable with analytics; however, understanding relevant data for your business is essential for minimizing risks and maximizing value.
With this increased focus on data-driven results, ask yourself a couple of questions pertaining to business investments: 1. Can and how are you measuring results and 2) do you understand the return on investment (ROI)?
Depending on the nature of your business, 2013 saw an increase in the use of Google Analytics and insights from other social media tools. As a business owner, become more familiar with these tools and metrics and understand their potential impact on your business.
4. Emerging Markets/Target Marketing and Its Impact on Content Creation
Creating content to is essential, but getting it to various target audiences is essential.
As entrepreneurs, we’re not always in-tune with our (potential) customer base. As segmented markets continue to evolve, so should your business marketing efforts. Do we understand how customers want to be communicated to? Relevant, key messaging? What forms of media should be used to reach target markets? Millennial versus mature markets, for example.
Two of the biggest social media success stories of 2013 were BuzzFeed and Upworthy. In addition to both having breakout success this year, the other thing that these two sites have in common is a focus on content curation and presentation versus content creation. In both cases, finding the content that mattered to their audiences and sharing that content in a meaningful way is essential to building and leveraging customer relationships.
As entrepreneurs, think about how to create, package and share the content. The total package is more significant than the creation itself.
5. The increasing ramp of inbound marketing efforts
Looking for news of increasing your customer base?
Inbound marketing is a highly effective way to generate awareness, convert customers and give advocates something to talk about. In a world where advertising is increasingly “tuned out,” the creation and sharing of media and publishing content are paramount to achieving business goals.
This approach enables you to establish relationships through the sharing of information—not, cold calling. For example, using webinars, blogging, podcasts, email marketing, SEO, et. al. are ways of sharing relevant messages which allow you to connect with various targeted audiences.
As you think about growth in 2014, these types of inbound marketing efforts should properly align and balance with audiences you’re targeting.
With the New Year fast approaching, now’s the time to think about your business.