Are You Ready for 2014?: Creating a Marketing Plan for the New Year

Unbelievably, 2013 has already almost passed us by. If you’re like most small businesses in America, you made come progress this year, but have not reached the revenues you were hoping for. But a new year is a great time to rethink your marketing strategy, regroup, consider what worked for you in 2013 and what new marketing tactics you might want to try out next year.
With that in mind, here are three trends that will surely play a part in the success of your marketing in 2014:
 

A return to local marketing

 
It has been universally accepted that the Internet is the great equalizer. The idea is that it doesn’t matter if your coffee shop is in town or 2000 miles away – through the power of technology, you can now sell your beans to anyone in the world.
 
However, recent cultural shifts have partially reversed this sort of thinking and brought back the power of local commerce. Consumers who are environmentally conscious are showing a strong preference for local businesses. The damage done to communities by the Great Recession has reaffirmed the importance of the small businesses that ground every neighborhood (American Express’s Small Business Saturdays support the same idea by encouraging “shopping small” in your own neighborhood).
 
To make sure you’re not missing out on the local trend, claim your location on as many search engines and applicaitons as you can. Google, and especially Google+’s Local pages, can help your small business appear higher in the search rankings than even large corporations, based entirely on these local factors. Encouraging your social media followers to rate you on services like Yelp and Urbanspoon will present you as a reputable establishment to neighborhood residents, while creating local content on your website will solidify your place in the community.
 

The rise of mobile marketing

 
The spread of cell phones has been unprecedented. This year, an amazing 91% of American adults had access to a cell phone. Because smartphones are ubiquitous, mobile marketing is unsurprisingly also on the rise. Experts estimate that mobile marketing played some part (however small) in 87% of all 2013 holiday purchases. This year, 40% of Facebook’s total revenue came from mobile users.
 
Those numbers are nothing to sneeze at. At the very least, make sure your business is taking this technology seriously by using a mobile-friendly website plugin. Make sure your company’s message is concise enough to fit on a tiny screen (this will also help to focus your non-mobile marketing). If you’ve already taken care of the basics, it might be time to take things to the next level by employing text message marketing, marketing using location-based apps, and building a presence on various “finder” apps.
 

Putting the personality back in marketing

 
On one hand, this is a simple goal; on the other, it’s the most complicated. As marketers become increasingly savvy about things like cross-channel promotion and big data analytics, customers are again beginning to feel like guinea pigs in a marketing lab.
 
No amount of social media channels will make up for a lack of personality, original content, or brand cohesion. What people demand in the age of constant media consumption is an original idea. Maybe even a good joke. It got Volvo 60 million Youtube views in less than a month. A sharp repartee got an unknown media agency 1 million views in 3 hours.
 
So, as we enter 2014, do some thinking about your brand and how to bring it into this new age in an original way. Original ideas are the currency of the online marketing economy.
 
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