There are some facets of successful businesses that seem constant: advertising is always important, transparency isn’t going anywhere, and competitive pricing matters.
However, there are still business trends that rise and ebb away too. 2017 was all about highly specialized products and big data collection, but what’s coming up in 2018?
These are the business trends that people in the know are predicting for 2018:
2018 is set to be the year that subject-matter experts (or SMEs) take over from traditional salespeople.
The average audience knows about sales tactics now, and the internet has allowed just about everyone to spend some time looking up different businesses and products to figure out the pros and cons.
Customers and other companies want subject-matter experts to give them insight into what they’re buying, so investing in SMEs and their people skills could be a vital step in growing your business throughout 2018.
It’s easier than ever for customers to find out about a business’s culture now.
PR slip-ups are splashed across Twitter, political affiliations are common knowledge, and customers want the activities they support to align with their values. The importance placed on authenticity is only going to ramp up in 2018, so it’s vital that companies get on board.
That means being more candid, showing some personality on social media, and making it clear that you care about your customers and the broader impact of your products.
The rise of authenticity corresponds with increased interest in live streaming as a form of marketing. Customers don’t want bland advertising copy, lifeless blogs, or plain video posts.
Live streaming via platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope allows a business to establish real-time connections with potential customers. You can stream product launches, show specific stages of development, host Q&A sessions, or simply show life around the office.
Given that over 80% of customers would rather watch a live video than read a blog post now, live streaming is set to be huge for businesses in 2018.
Influencer marketing has been on the rise for the past few years, but in 2018, it’s going to be an accepted part of any good business’s marketing strategy.
People are wary of traditional adverts now, with only 33% of consumers saying that they trust them and many using ad-blocking software to avoid seeing adverts altogether. However, 90% do trust recommendations from their peers, and this is what you’re getting when you use influencers to market your products.
These don’t have to be huge names like the Kardashians or NFL stars, however. The reach of influencers with 10,000 to 100,000 followers is still substantial for business, so reach out to relevant people with influence in your business area and see if you can strike up a deal to get your product onto their Instagram feed or interview mentions.
One of the biggest and best business trends of 2018 will be the push towards companies that care.
Consumers overwhelmingly report that they are happy to stop purchasing products and services from companies whose values don’t align with theirs, and they are glad to put their cash behind businesses that do.
That can be a real “everyone wins” situation, whereby supporting a community project, charity, or nonprofit organization, you can show what your business stands for and attract customers at the same time.
Recurring Revenue Options
Media streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon’s Audible, and the many others storming the market have made month-by-month payments something that consumers yearning for and expect. Yearly memberships or continued orders are less attractive than they were in the past, whereas more regular recurring revenue options are set to take off in 2018.
If you can offer your service on a regularly renewable basis, you’re golden. If it’s a product you’re selling, look into subscription boxes. These have exploded in popularity and make up a growing market that will continue to thrive through 2018.
There’s a world of opportunity when it comes to recurring revenue; just look at the massive variety of subscription boxes on the market. Don’t let this option pass you by.
Crowdfunding is the process of gathering funding for a project from potential customers, offering rewards along the way, on sites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter.
While many think of it as an area for serially underfunded projects – the domain of film students and amateur game coders – it’s a massively growing space for testing out the popularity of new products.
Many innovative entrepreneurs with established businesses are using crowdfunding to validate the market for a new product before release.
Crowdfunding is set to surpass venture capital by the end of 2017, and it’s growing at a rate of almost 190% per year, so don’t overlook it in 2018.
Radio advertising has been declining in popularity over the last decade or so, although it still shows good results for smaller businesses advertising on local stations.
However, podcasts have completely taken off. Podcasting is just like radio for more niche audiences, and as it’s listenable on-demand, you never have to worry that fans are going to miss your adverts.
Podcast listenership is steadily growing by around 10% to 20% per year with about 42 million weekly listeners in the US alone, so finding a podcast with a similar target audience as your business is a great marketing strategy for 2018.
Virtual reality technologies have been rapidly developing and decreasing in price over the past few years, and they’re expected to go mainstream in 2018.
If you’re working in a tech area or use a lot of infographics to sell your product, you should anticipate getting involved with virtual reality in the coming months and years. It might seem daunting, but hopping on the wagon early in the game should offer steady gains from 2018 onwards.
Business trends aren’t the be-all and end-all of a successful business, but they do tend to predict company growth and brand recognition. These 2018 business trends will help you gain customers and grow into the future, so don’t underestimate their importance.
If you can get on board any of these business trends for 2018, you could be on track for real success as the year develops.