As you plan where to spend precious advertising dollars for your small business in 2012, here are must-know trends to consider:
• 2012 looks like “the year of mobile.” Growth of mobile commerce has been nothing short of phenomenal. By next year, most of your customers will have a high-powered computer (which is to say, a mobile smartphone or similar device) in their pocket, purse or the palm of their hand every time they do business with you.
And make no mistake: the mobile explosion has huge implications for small and local businesses. The latest consumer research, for example, shows that over 30 million Americans now use their smartphone for some type of shopping-related activity. This creates important new opportunities for local business owners who get in the mobile game. Now is the time to find out about mobile solutions for your business.
• The hottest action is online. Back in 2009, a typical small business with an ad budget of some kind spent less than 25 percent of it in the broad category known as Internet Advertising. That includes Internet yellow pages, banner or display ads on websites, pay-per-click or other online listings, Web-based directories, online networks, social media, daily deals and coupon sites, mobile ads, and other digital offerings. That figure has now jumped to 40 percent and if the industry gurus are correct, will hit 70 percent in the next three years. For a small business, this trend means one thing for sure: Your competitors are spending more ad dollars to connect with consumers online and you should too.
• Small-business owners can afford to be picky. Every local business today has a multitude of marketing options available. But it’s all too easy to get bogged down in the details of so many different choices, and waste time and money with products or services that don’t fit, or don’t work. The trend today among local businesses is to work with one major marketing partner that can do the heavy lifting for you, and get you the leads you need without the fuss or bother on your part.
• Daily-deal fatigue is setting in. Despite the growth of daily-deal sites such as Groupon, Living Social and others, there’s mounting evidence that many local businesses are pulling back and assessing whether offering such deals actually contributes to longer term growth and profitability. If you offer deals on Groupon, Living Social or other daily-deal websites, beware. Detailed new research shows that for scores of local merchants, a hidden side effect is an increase in bad online reviews that can damage your reputation. (That’s why it’s always a good idea to actively monitor and manage your online reputation.) •