5 Trends That Impact Consultants and Coaches in 2021
In addition to working with thousands of small business owners each year, I also work very closely with coaches, consultants, and small marketing agency owners. These folks are, of course, small business owners in their own right. Still, this work gives me particular insight into the challenges, workings, and characteristics of this specific niche of business owners. (You can learn about the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network here)
With that in mind, I present the 5 biggest trends that will impact coaches and consultants in 2021 and beyond.
However, I need to add the 2020 disclaimer – I have no idea what 2021 will bring, and anyone who claims they do is delusional, lying, or just guessing. So, when all or none of what I’m about to share happens next year, please do not request a refund.
As much as anything, 2021 will be about re-evaluation, rediscovery, and a whole lot of recovery.
And that leads me to my first trend, which is pretty meta in a post about coaches and consultants.
1) Coaching and consulting practices explode
Good news, this is the business to be in next year. As corporate giants reassess their business models, some current staff will jump into the consulting world. These small, nimble firms will compete with the giant, slow-moving, expensive consulting options.
You can expect a lot more personal development going on next year and open the doors for wellness, mindset, and skill coaching practices of all shapes and sizes. (In fact, we created a Certified Marketing Manager Program for 2021)
Of course, look for coach certifications, coach training programs, and “coaches” coaches to follow this growth trend.
2) More and more firms crowdsource talent
Very related to trend number one is the continued shrinkage of siloed departments for everything. Marketing departments of the future will get very lean and depend upon quick-strike teams that can be assembled for specific initiatives and campaigns.
Look for freelancing sites such as Upwork to get in the game of assembling teams.
3) Social media engagement gets more specialized
Almost every social media platform got a little more complex last year. To stand out and grow market share. Features like reels, stories, and stitching enable content creators to produce in multiple formats that require shorter, attention-getting tricks to compete.
The simple fact is that for anyone other than the full-time social media influencer with a team, it’s become too crowded and too complicated to attempt to compete on multiple platforms.
Look for consultants to specialize and splinter into platform-specific tactics and look for businesses to rein in their social media participation in the same way.
Social media will continue to get more transactional, but only if done to near perfection.
4) People crave faster consumption
Spending eight and nine hours a day in front of a screen doing “work,” laced with video calls, has pretty much killed the appetite for anything streaming that is not full-blown entertainment.
Does the world need that streaming video of you driving in your car talking about how real the struggle is? Um, that’s a hard no. (If I cursed in my writing, this is where I would do it.)
Do we want short, punchy, maybe even a little funny, but to the point content? Can I have an amen right now? It’s a little ironic but consider this; we can consume about three times the amount of content reading than listening.
I’m from the Midwest, so I don’t talk very fast, about 150 words a minute. But I’m a speedy reader, about 600 words a minute. So, don’t assume that audio and video content is all people want. What we want is something that entertains or provides value quickly. (Although I’ll give a major plug for audio content due to its portability – you can listen while doing many other things.)
5) AI get very practical
I wrote about this idea in my general 2021 Small Business Trends post, but it certainly crosses over to anyone who produces or content or helps others produce content.
Almost every trend article you encounter this year will talk about AI in some fashion. While I mention it here as a trend, I do so for some of the practical things it now brings rather than the futuristic promise of the technology it implies.
Without getting too techie about the workings, the mid-2020 roll-out of Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 or GPT-3 made AI a useful tool for many applications.
No longer confined to those pesky bots on website help desks, AI is now being embedded in our basic typing functions. Maybe you’ve noticed that the application keeps suggesting finishes to your sentences as you compose an email in Gmail.
This isn’t simply a feature added by Google; this is AI at work powering routine tasks.
This fall, I wrote my latest book, The Ultimate Marketing Engine (HarperCollins Leadership Sept 2021), entirely in Google Docs. I was amazed how often the suggested AI helped me write better or at least easier sentences from a simple suggested start.
AI applications can already write an article based on a handful of fed keywords. Now, is this award-winning prose? Well, no, but is that blog post you paid someone $15 to write near as good as AI – probably not. AI writers can get you 80% of the way there, and then you, the brilliant content strategist that you are, can spend your energy on making it sparkle and getting it read by others.
This will shake up the content creation, social posting, and freelance industries dramatically.
This crystal ball stuff is fun, but more than anything, stay curious this coming year, and you may indeed discover a new and exciting chapter in business and life because the only thing that I know for certain is that change is gonna keep coming.
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