There are many business, social media, and marketing trends expected in the next year. Here are the trends you cannot ignore as a service-based businesses.
The Growth of Outsourcing
More businesses are shutting down in house departments in lieu of an experienced freelancer. This is great news for many service-based entrepreneurs! At the same time, more and more experienced workers are starting their own solo businesses (remember that department that was laid off?) On one hand, this means more vendors for YOU to outsource to. Don’t waste time outside of your strengths! This also means that while your opportunities grow, so does your competition pool.
Stay ahead of the game by outsourcing your weaknesses so your strengths shine to your target client. Also, stand out by addressing the rest of these 2015 trends:
Just like the big players, you can benefit from promoting conscious capitalism and causes that matter to you. It’s time to get out in your community, volunteer and serve on boards. Not only will you be networking with other businesses, you’ll set yourself apart from other consultants who cannot or will not make time for such activities. Consider offering your services to nonprofits and worthy causes. Customers who see two similar contractors may choose the one who gives a percentage billable hours towards curing alzheimer's.
Choose a cause to champion, and put somewhere on your site, maybe in one line on your about page, that you contribute to that cause. Don’t overstate it, just mention it.
Data, Data and more Data
It’s 2015, you should, at the very least, have google analytics set up on your website. You should have spreadsheets or CRM software that manages your client relationships. You should have also sent out year-end surveys to your existing customers. You should make sure you’re set up as a business account on social channels so you can track engagement. If you indeed have all of those boxes checked, don’t forget to actually look at the results! Service-based business owners are busy doing the work and forget about marketing, which is why I created this handy Marketing Made Easy Course. It is also why you may never look at your stats. Big mistake.
SCHEDULE some time each week looking at your google reports, Facebook Insights, etc. If you haven’t done all of the above, schedule time to set up those tracking tools this week.
Face to Face Networking
Don’t lose a client because you chose to email instead of skype. As the internet grows bigger and more impersonal, videos and, yes, selfies, have grown increasingly popular. People want to see your face like they did in the old days. Call on the phone instead of texting or emailing. Genuine connections win every time. Make time to attend networking events. Leave your house more. With more people starting their own service based businesses each year, it’s no wonder coworking spaces have expanded recently. Coffee shops are full of writers, designers and consultants who needed to get out of the house. Though you may love checking email in your pajamas, coworking, whether officially at a space or unofficially at a coffee house, can offer networking benefits, improved focus, and improved mood.
The next time you’re tempted to email a client, call instead. The next time you’re tempted to call, set up a video chat via skype. Commit to working out of your home one day a week, or commit to attending a monthly meet-up.
If you need help with a specific part of your business, a quick google search will yield multiple online resources available to you right now. In 2015, that list of options will grow. Closing the gaps in your knowledge, for example learning wordpress maintenance or twitter strategies, will give you an edge over your competitors. Whether an online class, course, e-book, or set of tutorials, take advantage of this online trend.
Make a goal to tackle areas where you need to learn - via a course, class, webinar etc. - once each quarter.
The Impact of Social Media
Social media will continue to drive consumer spending and customer service in 2015. Advertising on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will become more important and prevalent as algorithms cause your unpromoted posts to get less traction. LinkedIn has become a valuable publishing platform for content marketing, and will continue to grow in that aspect this year. New platforms like Ello and Tsu have emerged, and more will be released. With so many options, it’s easy to get sucked into “posting as working” and focusing too much energy on social media. Instead of quantity, focus on quality, offering your best content and posts on the favorite platforms of your target client.
Choose your best platforms and focus in. Consumers want interaction, value and authenticity online. Be sure you’re offering all three consistently on those platforms. Consider making an easy publishing schedule for yourself.
Content Marketing Is Not Going Away
You refuse to set up a blog for your site? Well, that may be to your detriment. However, there are alternatives, like publishing case studies as white papers, how-to videos on youtube, or linkedin articles as mentioned above. Find what comes easily to you and what you can keep up every week or every other week. If you ignore content marketing, instead of hiring you, your potential client will hire the photographer who wrote the “What to wear for your Family Photoshoot” and promoted it on pinterest. Instead of hiring you to sell their home, your ideal customer will hire the realtor who is always posting those fun “Deals Around Town” posts on Facebook. Don’t get bogged down with the idea of writing long reports or creating witty social media images. Just add value to your ideal client with free content on a consistent basis, and promote that content so they actually see it.
Figure out one aspect of content marketing you can tackle easily and consistently, and aim to release content once a week.
Millennials Probably ARE Your Target
According to Leaders West Digital Marketing Journal, there are 76 million millennials in the United States. They’re well-educated, with 63 percent having at least a bachelors’ degree. Meaning these mid-20 to mid-30-somethings are starting businesses, working up corporate ladders, leading teams and making big decisions. Those decisions include who the company hires as a copywriter or to which company they will outsource their social media. The reality is you probably need to market to them in some way, whether that means you add instagram to your social media platforms or you start watching Jimmy Fallon to have something to discuss over happy hour.
Take a look at your business this week and see where you can add or change things in order to attract and engage more millennials. Schedule an action plan to do so.