Yep, it’s that time of year once again. Time for lots of folks like me to wax on about what we see out there on the horizon so that folks like you can perhaps be a little more prepared to respond to the coming shifts in marketing.
In a lot of ways, I think the real service posts like this perform is to put a name on things that people are already starting to feel. I don’t claim to have special knowledge about the future, I view things through a lens informed by the thousands of conversations I have with business owners and influencers alike.
Of course, what I should do is look back at last year’s post and give myself a score, so let’s do that briefly.
Here’s what I predicted for 2021
· Paying attention becomes a survival mechanism – This is hard to quantify, but I think that companies that relooked at most of the stages of their customer journey are winning.
· Everything gets smaller – More personal, maybe, not sure smaller.
· AI gets practical – nailed this one – you can’t produce an app these days without AI baked in.
· Talent investment is back in style – I don’t know, the great resignation caused so much scrambling that I’m not sure investment is the right term
· Video gets personal again – Sure video, including 1 to 1 video, is hot, but I don’t think I saw the audio explosion as a personal medium.
· UX and SEO get attached at the hip – yep, another one that Google made real.
· Coaching ranks swell – This is still coming in my view, but I’m still bullish as heck on the change in how people, including marketing agencies, position their work.
With that bit of housekeeping done, let’s move on to what I view as the top small business trends of 2022.
Brand Purpose takes the place of authenticity.
Authenticity is a decade-old buzzword that most people struggle to define, let alone deliver. One thing the great shake-up entering year 3 has done is force people to search for meaning in their work and certainly is what their brand stands for, promises, and delivers.
I expect this idea to become a significant differentiator for brands. People will make choices based much more on connection with a brand. Who knows how long this will last but for right now, make sure you help people connect with what you stand for.
Events are still virtual.
It seemed like this trend if you want to call it that was about to end in the fall of 2021, but alas, it will carry forward into 2022 and continue to influence the habits of business travel and education habits.
I look for many significant events to get better at hybrid offerings. I also think that forming cohorts of 8-10 to go through an experience together will take the place of the typical course or membership program.
Co-marketing is no longer a big biz play.
I’ve always loved co-marketing. When you think of this you might immediately think Red Bull and GoPro, but any business can do this.
Since it’s become pretty much impossible to cold call or even network that well, why not look to other businesses to help you get in front of prospects.
Co-marketing is essentially a twist on referral, but its passive nature can create great exposure and I think the idea will really catch on in 2022 for proactive small businesses.
Small business learns to outsource content.
Let’s start with two facts – Content is air, and creating helpful content is hard work. Most large organizations create the storm of content they need for every customer journey stage by building content teams and outsourcing a great deal of content production to freelancers and agencies.
With the advent of AI in the realm of content creation, many small businesses will be able to compete in the content game by employing inexpensive content partners armed with AI tools.
In case you haven’t been online, of late, NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token, which of course, means little. Go read up on this idea if you need to understand all things crypto fully.
NFTs made a giant splash in 2020 and 2021, mainly in the world of collectible digital art. See, that’s the non-fungible part – unlike bitcoin that you exchange for another token or bitcoin and essentially have the same thing you started with an NFT is usually an original of some sort, but because it’s built on blockchain (usually Ethereum), it’s a bit of a contract.
There will be copies, but you can prove you have the original. And the artist can enhance or continue your connection, and that’s where this will get interesting.
Think about buying a concert ticket that comes with special bonuses based on your ticket price or number. Then, think about how content creators will start creating their community tokens.
Okay, all of this is already happening and way past mainstream, but now it is time for small businesses to start paying attention – not to Gary V, but to folks like Joe Pulizzi and Brian Clark.
So, we’ll see how I did in a year or so.