If you are a small business owner, you should be setting goals as early as possible so that you are not caught behind the eight ball as the year goes by. Sweeping changes are expected in 2017, and you’ll need to be ready. For example, it’s predicted that 2017 will be the year that video finally overtakes text as the No. 1 form of communication on the internet. 2017 will also mark the rise of the independent mobile commerce culture, and, of course, virtual reality is on the immediate horizon.
Here’s how to prepare for the changes ahead.
Target Your Niche Even More Precisely
In order to grow your business, shrink your marketing. The major search engines, like Google and Bing, continue to reward localization and punish wide-net marketing strategies. There is also more competition in 2017 than ever before, including premium prices on the best keywords. You will need to stretch out your long-tail keywords even further and delve more deeply into a local or niche culture in order to get that organic traffic that drives the highest conversion rates.
Many small business owners believe that the advent of new communications technologies means an automatic influx of customers. Even with the hands-down best product on the market, this is never the case. More robust communications only means more noise as potential consumers are bombarded with a deluge of advertisements and indirect marketing. In order to stand out, you have to personalize your messages – even going customer by customer. You cannot be afraid to bother people, and rejection cannot bother you.
Create an Emergency Fund
The businesses that are prepared for emergencies well ahead of time will be the ones that have a strong chance of thriving in 2017. Make sure you have access to an emergency budget just in case the market gets a bit unpredictable and your business takes a hit. If your funds quickly run out and you find yourself managing debt some time in the next year, then make sure you look into debt management plan (DMP) options. A DMP, which is usually offered by a counseling service or financial services company specializing in debt management, will help you tailor a solution to your situation and create monthly payments within your budget.
Shore up Your Free Business Listings
Before you get into all of the advanced marketing strategies for 2017, you need to have all of your basic bases covered. Make sure that you have a business profile on all of the major search engine business platforms. Competitors today have no problem cannibalizing your listing and driving traffic away from you if you do not. Also, make sure that your NAP is exactly the same on all of your business listings, abbreviations and all.
Automate Your Social Media
You actually need to spend less time on social media if you are going to be successful in 2017. This does not mean that your customers see less of you – only that you spend less time actually producing your messages and opening lines of communication. There are simply too many automation tools that you can take advantage of to stay on social media all day. The longer that you stay on social media for business, the more likely you are to gradually drift over into wasteful clicking that will eat away at your workday.
Stretch Your Budget
If you are a small or midsize business, your money will be moving in many different directions at once – marketing, operations and administration – and you will need to learn how to use financial leverage in order to keep everything afloat. There are certain credit card strategies that you can take advantage of in 2017 if you have the right partner. The financial industry is finally beginning to catch up to new technology, and bankers are happily doing more business with their best customers through these new avenues. Make sure that you understand the wealth of new techniques that are now at your disposal.
Prepare for the new year by taking control of your small business finances. By using even one or more of these strategies, your business will be able to face any and all of 2017’s challenges.