2021 Trends for Small Business
In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I do my annual wrap up of 2020 in a way that predicts what is coming next year! I’ve been doing this post for the last 20 years and I’m usually spot on. That’s not a nod to my prediction ability but more to the fact that trends usually creep up on us and grow. So it’s more about paying attention than being able to predict the future.
Ah, but then 2020 happened, and anything that might have crept up on anyone pretty much arrived untethered and proud. Trends accelerated and became fact more than a trend – Zoom anyone? A new behavior that may have taken years to take hold is now instantly second nature.
Here is where I believe we are going next:
Predicted Trends for 2021 for Small Business
- Paying attention becomes a survival mechanism
- Everything gets smaller
- AI gets practical
- Talent investment is back in style
- Video gets personal again
- UX and SEO get attached at the hip
- Coaching ranks swell
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2021 Small Business Trends
[00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This
is John Jantsch, and I'm going to do a solo show. I think it's been a little while I'm going to do
my annual wrap-up of the trends for 2021, I guess. It's not a wrap-up isn't it, it's a prediction.
That's a trends, for small business in 2021, but, you know, I love.
Testimonials reviews. I'd love to hear from you. Let me read one that just came in from a
tubblog. I know tubblog in the UK. Host John Jantsch is one of my go-to gurus for small
business marketing advice. And if you listen to his podcast, you'll appreciate why John not
only shares some amazing wisdom himself, but he expertly interviews a host of the brightest
minds from the marketing space.
If you own a small business or work in marketing, then you'll appreciate listening to this
show. Like I said, I love those who wouldn't love those. I'd love to hear from you, if you
[00:01:00] appreciate and love to listen to this show, jump over to iTunes and give me a
review. All right. So every year for, I don't know, the last 20 years or so, I've wrapped up the
year with my predictions for trends for the coming year.
And you know what I'm usually spot on. But that's really more, I think, a Testament to the
fact that trends, I mean, they tend to creep up on us rather than overwhelm us. and, I think
that there's also the fact that really was small business owners. You know, trends, have
usually kind of tipped, in the main, at least, I mean, we've been talking about it for a long
time before they honestly, you know, or something that small business owners really need
Heed so, I mean, you think about like social media, mobile marketing, and even one that's
going to show up today, you know, AI, we talked about those for a long time before they are
really practical, I think for many small businesses, but you know, then 2020 happened in
pretty much everything that might have sort of.
Slowly [00:02:00] crept in on anybody, you know, kind of came in untethered and proud and
announced itself. So, you know, trends really accelerated and became the fact, I think more
than a trend, I mean like zoo, right? I mean fact, everybody just did it, but it's not a trend. I
think a new behavior that might've taken years to take hold is really now second nature.
I think for this year's predictions and you're going to, obviously a lot of people do these. I
think it's going to take, a new level of insight or a different level of insight to curate the
trends. I think the trick this year is that, you know, the ability to spot the behavior that
emerges from a change.
I mean, kind of the forest trends, if you will. So for example, like is business travel going to
take a long time to recover? You know, our large conferences on hold for a while. I mean, will
people come to expect 15 minute virtual meetings? I mean, even if they're like in the same
office first together, so what did we make of some of this?
Now I know [00:03:00] that you can count on a lot of pundits out there that are going to
regurgitate the already worn line about marketers using this moment to become more
human. That businesses will be more about people and less about, I dunno, whatever it was
they were about before COVID, but I don't. I think that we should be fooled into thinking
that that, and I hope that you don't, that, that doing the same thing you were doing in a
different format is an innovation and that anything really in your industry, whatever industry
you're in will look precisely the same, maybe ever again.
I think this year, the friction around change. I mean, literally we went to zero, right? Because
there was no choice. So I think you can expect some people to really try to claw back, you
know, what, what they knew. and I think you're going to see a lot of other people. I mean,
completely reevaluate, restart everything.
I do think a lot of businesses are, are doing soul searching. [00:04:00] I know I have, I know
that's occurred. but let's not over simplify the result of it all. I think, forced to deal with the
change that we don't fully understand. Has let's really do some introspection of course, but
where law land is, frankly, anyone's guests.
And that leads me to my first trend. Number one, paying attention becomes a survival
mechanism, you know, in 2021. I mean, as in most years, businesses thrive and survive due
to many factors, but I think next year, Those who kind of discover the shift of the moment
that stay very, very nimble, I think will be more equipped to evolve with their customers.
Like 2020 showed us, frankly, how fast everything can change and, and simultaneously how
fast we can respond and then change [00:05:00] and then respond or re respond. I think this
is the commercial version of, of present. Moment, mindfulness, I suppose. I mean, don't take
anything for granted. Something that feels like momentum may just be abandoned for really
the feeling of the moment.
I mean, talk to your customers as much as you can. Not because they can tell you what they
want or need, because they can tell you how they're feeling. And I think. Going forward. I
think we can expect fear and I don't mean to be a cynic, but I think we can expect fear to be
a feeling, maybe the number one feeling for most of next year.
So tune your strategic thinking to finding ways to, I don't know, be the light in the
darkness. It's a good way to say. All right. Number two, everything gets smaller. Now from a
practical standpoint, I mean, we've already seen this, right? I mean, conferences, meetings,
[00:06:00] gatherings of any sort, kind of contracted immediately.
And I think, I think to some extent, we're all going to need to relearn how to gather again. I
mean, no matter how much we think we crave it. I think you're going to expect to push for
less content, shorter videos, more intimate launches, mini courses, even, and, and the 142
page book instead of the classic 284 page book.
I think this trend will be driven by people's desire for something that feels more personal.
Certainly not by, you know, the markets. Designed to get smaller. But speaking of design, I
think design is a true graphic design is it is a true barometer of change sometimes. And I
think you can already see online at least, and it's already moved in that direction.
I mean, look at it. Look at the large headline fonts on websites, the muted color, almost a
watercolor splashes of retro illustrations and all the white space. On on webpages. I
[00:07:00] think that, that's a, an indicator or a barometers of where I think some people's
attitudes are going away or going as well, I should say.
and I don't think smaller always means, just smaller. It also means less complex. I think you
can expect that to play out really in a, in a large dollop of nostalgia. you know, you think
about the visions of families riding around their neighborhoods on their bikes during 2021 or
2020, I should say.
I think that sparked an emotional desire for simplicity. All right. Number three, AI gets
practical. Okay. Of course, almost every trend article. then I think you can, kind of this year
were probably the last two or three years has talked about AI in some fashion. And I
mentioned it here as a trend. I do.
I. I do so really for some practical things it brings rather than the futuristic promise of, you
know, some sort of technological change now without getting too technical about the
workings, the mid [00:08:00] somewhere in the middle of the year, this year 2020 to, rolled
out, open AI, rolled out something called generative pre-trained transformer three, or you
might see it referred to as GPT three.
and I think in a lot of ways, It was a big leap that made AI useful for many applications. I
mean, instead of just being confined to the service or help desk bots on websites, it's now
embedded in our basic typing. You, you might've actually even noticed this as you compose
an email out in Gmail, if you use Gmail or, or any of the Google suite of tools like Google
docs, I mean, the applications now, as you type
Suggest finishes to your sentences. And this isn't just a, a feature that was added by Google.
I mean, this is AI powering routine tasks and it gets smarter. I actually wrote, this, This fall.
my latest book called the ultimate marketing engine. Here's my plug for it. It'll be coming out
with [00:09:00] Harper, from Harper Collins leadership in September of 2021 and planned to
hear from me about it.
But anyway, I wrote this book. It's the first book I've written entirely in Google docs. how's
amazed at how the suggested AI. don't tell my editor this, but some cases, I think it helped
me right better, or at least, or at least it made it easier for me to write, sentences just from a
simple suggested start.
And I think you're going to see a lot of tools. I've already started to uncover tools and
services and websites really aimed it at making, writing. Easier. I mean, the couple of tools
like headline and market muse is another great one. I think they're going to change how
content is created. I think AI applications can write an article.
I mean, now based on just a handful of have fed in keywords now, is that going to be award-
winning pros? Well, maybe not at least right now, but you know, frankly, is that, is that blog
posts, you paid somebody $15 to write, you know, near as good [00:10:00] as AI, probably
not. But I think AI writers. I think those tools are righties to a place where they can get you
80% of the way there.
And then you, you know, the brilliant content strategists that you are, you can spend your
energy on making the, the content sparkle and, and, you know, getting it read by others that
becomes your job. I think this is going to shake up content creation, social posting agency,
and even though the entire freelance industry, pretty, pretty dramatically.
All right. Turn number four out of seven. Talent investment is back in style. So, you know,
most large businesses, I really have come to understand that there's a real competitive
nature in attracting and retaining some of the best people. So they've, you know, they've
long invested heavily in recruiting and employee branding initiatives, but you know, small
businesses rarely can afford the, you know, the, the perks, to attract talent.
But one trend that I think is going to grow in the world of small business. [00:11:00] Is what
might be referred to as talent development. I mean, even if revenue is down and budgets
are tight, I predict that small business owners are going to see the wisdom of creating
training and mentoring opportunities, really in an effort to level up and develop and let's
I mean, send a clear signal that their people aren't important. Piece of their success. And I
think this has always been a big topic, big, important topic, but I think we'll see a return to a
fundamental commitment to employee engagement around things like profit and skill
development. And I don't think it's going to be limited to big business only.
So if you're out there listening to this and you have a training. Program or some way to help
people develop skills or mindset or even personal development. I think small business is
going to be a great target, for, the, the, the purchase of those types of things. All right.
Number five video gets personal again.
So. If, if [00:12:00] you're a longtime reader or listener, and, and recall this, I said that last
year, so that's the again, part, but I think there's going to be another, evolution. I think it's
going to continue to grow as a content medium. but I think it's also going to, we're going to
be a bridge to a couple of the other trends that I mentioned, already today, motion, it'll be
the act of paying attention and getting smaller.
I think video, I don't know, think of it as asynchronous virtual content. It's going to take
another big leap and, and, and it's going to bounce from the zoom screens that so many
people have been in front of to more personal, what I call one-to-one, you know, custom.
Personalized, platform. So for things like sales and technical support, and I think even as a
form of collaboration and commenting, internally, so tools like loom and BombBomb, you
know, I think they're going to continue to grow and, I mean, face it, who wants to read four
paragraph email, you know, when you can just simply close your eyes, click [00:13:00] play
and get the message.
So I think you're going to see more and more of that number six UX user experience. And
SEO search engine optimization get attached at the hip. So for a lot of years, it was pretty
fashionable to talk about the marriage of content and SEO. And I don't know, now that
contents basically online air, I think it's sort passe to even talk about those two concepts is.
As to right. but I think there's going to be a newest HSA player in the SEO world making
waves, and that's UX or user experience now UX isn't, it's not a new concept. I mean,
navigation, good navigation, at least as it is, user experience, content structure, you know,
those are, those are user experience.
I mean, so site speed, you know, how fast your site loads, how secure it is. I mean, those are
all part of the user experience, but, you know, Google, particularly with its, it's just.
Obsession with this idea of a mobile first world or [00:14:00] point of view. I think they're
going to raise the bar or at least the SEO bar, another notch next year.
So the three words that I think you're going to have to come to terms with in 2021, and
those three words are core web vitals. So this isn't. Meant to be a technical podcast. So I'm
going to have to leave it to you to, to research, what core web vitals is on your own, but
suffice it to say that slight sites, your website, any website that loads slowly or doesn't
provide what Google thinks is a great mobile user experience.
You're going to suffer in the SEO game. I mean, Google it's typically mom about, you know,
how they rank things, but they've, they've actually gone as far as publicly claiming that in
2021, they plan to combine core web vitals with their other ranking signals. if you want to
dig into this a little bit, And there'll be a link in the show notes.
my go-to source for education on anything to do with SEO, is, is my friend [00:15:00]
[email protected] And you'll, you'll see that he's done some work on core web
vitals, a highly recommend that you visit the show notes for this episode and, find back
linko.com. You could certainly do a search on your own and you'll find it too, because after
all he's really good at SEO.
All right. So, Oh, and, and, and another thing right now, core web vitals. It may, maybe those
of you that are Google search console people, and you should be, that you, you could see, I
don't know, about six months ago. They started putting how your site ranks in these, in this
ranking factors that they call web, core web vitals, not how it ranks, but how they view it.
you know, good, bad or indifferent. All right. Number one or number seven, I guess the last
one, I think coaching. Ranks coaching as a profession, is, and, and as, as people actually
hiring coaches, been around for a long time, big industry on its own, I think the ranks of
coaching is, is really going to swell.
[00:16:00] You know, during 2020, a lot of people found corporate jobs. Weren't so stable.
Or it's so fun anymore. Maybe. I, you know, some people were laid off, and, and I think
started that coaching or consulting business. I, I, as many of you know, I have a network of
independent marketing consultants. So we saw a huge surge in interest from people jumping
out of corporate that just finally said, Hey, now's the time to, to start that, that practice that
I've wanted to, I just think a lot of people took.
sometime during 2020 to kind of reconsider their life path in general. So my final prediction
is that the number of people who both decide to start coaching businesses, and those who
decide that that right now is the time to get our hierarchy coach. I think I. I think you're
going to see that explode.
I think that coincides nicely also with the trend of, of businesses developing their people. I
think businesses are going to, to look for coaching and look for, opportunities to [00:17:00]
develop their people. And I just think that 2021 is going to be a year of recovery and
personal development. and you know, in some cases, one of changing priorities, so this
crystal ball stuff is fun, but more than anything.
my advice is this, stay curious this coming year, and you may indeed discover a new and
exciting chapter in business and in life because that's the only thing that I know. The only
thing that I know is for certain is that change. Is it going to keep coming? All right. Take care.
Be well. And, hopefully we'll see you one day back out there on the road.
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