Size really doesn’t matter any more. Smaller and more localized businesses have become major beneficiaries of technology innovation, especially growing use of mobile and social media.
Perhaps the most significant impact has been to level the marketing and communications playing field. It’s amazing how digital media has helped companies reach their target audience online more effectively than before with very little to no cost at all. One thing is for sure: things are not at all like they used to be!
Digital media innovation has already given businesses:
- Broader options. Instead of the Big Three (radio, TV, print) we can now use audio, video, text, even interactive elements to customize our messages for different audiences.
- Greater immediacy. Word travels faster than ever, which can be both good and risky.
- Greater reach. The world is literally our marketing oyster.
- Greater transparency. Again, both good and risky.
- Greater internal efficiencies and productivity, with the ability to do more with fewer resources.
New innovation trends to watch:
- Any size company can strategically track and analyze sophisticated information about their customers and prospects, enabling more highly refined and individualized marketing and relationship-building. Cloud-based tools now put data and analytics at your fingertips, often in real time.
- In the next three to four years, mobile-based commerce is expected to increase nearly 40% per year and tablet usage could increase more than 50% per year. Tablets are becoming the new all-purpose device of choice for browsing, email, social media and even document sharing. Businesses that fail to optimize their websites to accommodate mobile will quickly slip behind their competition.
- Punch-cards and plastic are becoming obsolete, replaced by digital loyalty programs custom-designed by you for your business and customers. It makes sense, since nearly half of online shoppers are using mobile devices. This market is expected to top $43 billion worldwide in the next few years, presenting a huge opportunity to create individualized rewards based on personal response and purchasing behaviors.
- Disappointed by dismal returns on Groupon and Living Social “deal” offerings, businesses are turning to self-designed and internally-controlled programs. Using third-party brokers may still offer some lead generation value for certain businesses, but profitability and customer retention trump high-volume-no-margin promotions.
- The use of online scheduling is skyrocketing for businesses that make appointments, whether for a manicure, doctor’s visit or dinner reservation. This may be a golden opportunity for smaller businesses with very small marketing budgets to attract customers and provide instant service.
Keeping up with innovation can be a job in itself, and it can be expensive. But with moderation and careful consideration, businesses that are early adopters may get a profitable jump on the competition.