Under-the-radar marketing trends in 2013 for small businesses

As the calendar closes the book on 2012, small business owners are doubtless gearing up for the new fiscal year. One of the key considerations they will have to deal with is the emerging marketing trends that have permeated all major industries. The marketing landscape is constantly shifting, requiring marketing experts and executives at small businesses to stay on their toes. While the big trends have already been explored in full detail – social media marketing, the importance of cloud computing, expansion of mobile capabilities – there are numerous under-the-radar marketing strategies for small business that should be considered as well. Here are some of the key marketing trends for small businesses in the upcoming year.

Visual storytelling
According to Memphis Daily News, visual content is now in higher demand than ever before. Consumers with rapidly waning attention spans are now less interested in reading copy than they are in being engaged through visual cues. Part of this developing trend is the proliferation and popularity of websites such as Pinterest and Instagram, both of which deal heavily in visual elements. Additionally, customers are increasingly interested in participating in engaging visual content themselves. One of the most popular trends of 2012 that is set to carry over into 2013 is the engagement of customers with brands and products by snapping a photo of themselves with said products. The increased prevalence of these visual engagements is indicative of a higher demand for visual storytelling and information.

Loyalty programs
Consumers have higher expectations from the companies and brands they support than they did in previous years. According to Inc. Magazine, helicopter moms, social media participants and reality television have all contributed to rising customer expectations, and want to be recognized for the business they bring in and their small accomplishments. Consider that many companies now offer loyalty rewards for simply sharing a product or convincing a peer to sign up a similar program.

Additionally, the news source notes that loyalty programs have also become highly commoditized due to an absence of innovation in the field. This means that instead of promotional giveaways that were popular in years past, customers are now being rewarded with cash or near-cash rewards. The open-loyalty economy that has developed among businesses has created an environment where many businesses have to offer substantial discounts or “rewards dollars” or redeemable points to customers. Take note of what kind of loyalty rewards and programs would work best at your small business.

Quick Response codes and Augmented Reality
Technology is always going to have a big impact on marketing strategies for small business, as constant innovation puts new capabilities into the hands of customers and marketers alike. One of the biggest trends in recent times is the proliferation of Quick Response (QR) codes, with the square bar codes littered in magazines, newspapers and physical advertisements in natural environments. Consumers are now encouraged to use their readily available smartphones to gain access to exclusive and engaging content.

Meanwhile, augmented reality has further expanded the capabilities of customers to engage with the brand, product or service before even completing the transaction. Consider virtual models for fashion products that can be customized on websites, or test driving the technical aspects of a product. Additionally, augmented reality can essentially be translated to any product, service or brand, making it an incredibly versatile tool to learn and explore in 2013.

An increasingly glocal landscape
Perhaps the biggest trend that could affect marketing strategies for small business is that the landscape for doing business – and in marketing these businesses – has become increasingly “glocal”. According to Inc. Magazine, glocalism refers to the adaptation of products and services to each location or culture in which they are sold. On a broader scale, it signifies just how much regional businesses can be affected by events that take place far away, indicative of the interconnectivity of the world’s economy today.

Part of the reason for such increased glocalism is, naturally, the advancement of innovative technologies and solutions. The world has been shrunk by the internet and all its associated channels, not least of all social media networks. Small businesses are no longer limited by their size or available resources, as technology allows them to expand the breadth of their business beyond their local town, state, or even country.

Small business owners need to be aware of how changes in other parts of the world could affect their industry. However, on the flip side, small business owners should also be mindful that the glocal landscape provides ever more opportunities for finding new customers around the world.

What marketing trends has your small business been looking at for 2013?

Martin Jones

Martin Jones is a Senior Marketing Manager with the corporate Cox Communications social media team where he assists in leading strategy, campaign ideation and marketing execution for Cox Business social media & content marketing. Today, over 1 million fans engage with Cox Communications content, campaigns and Customer Care on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube. LinkedIn and Google+.