To ensure your business’ profitability and sustainability, you need to refine your operations, sales and marketing to maximise return on investment. SMEs have an advantage when it comes to continuous improvement because you’re generally more agile and open to change than your larger counterparts. And what better time to take stock than the start of a new year?
In this post, we will take a look at emerging business, marketing and technology trends SME should leverage in 2017.
Better business operations
Let’s start with business and operational trends to capitalise on in 2017.
First, there’s the rise of remote working. This is a no-brainer for SMEs funding expansion on a tight budget. Shifting suitable employees out of the workplace and into their own home lowers overheads and, if managed properly, can even boost efficiency and morale.
Outsourcing is the second trend. Hiring in external talent as and when you need it is increasingly popular for good reason. Many SMEs don’t need permanent staff to fill specific skills gaps. Hiring in contract or freelance talent to meet your shortfalls is cost effective because you only pay for the resource when you need it.
Third is the importance of a customer-centric approach. Providing a better customer experience is one of the key ways to differentiate in saturated markets. Larger businesses have started reviewing the way they manage customer relationships, and your agility is your competitive advantage because you don’t have the same bureaucracy slowing change.
Marketing is up next, with a selection of current and emerging trends that affect how you engage with customers in both the B2C and B2B spaces.
First, create a feedback loop within the business. Marketing professionals spend their working lives learning what gets under a customer’s skin. Customer service spends its time dealing with customer pain point and product and service issues. All this valuable knowledge needs to feed back into the rest of the business, so every touchpoint is optimised to fulfil customer needs.
Second, the scattergun approach to online marketing is coming to an end, so you need to review and refine your strategy. With the boom in social media, for example, many businesses invested time and resource in everything from LinkedIn to Pinterest – and have suffered from the lack of focus. While online marketing (from social media to Google AdWords) is a valuable tool for raising awareness, nurturing leads and providing customer service, you need to assess the efficacy of each channel and prioritise based on the value each delivers to the business.
And that brings us to the key SME marketing trend for 2017 – mobile. Mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches, and the popularity of the smartphone means customers are looking at competitors while they’re standing in front of the shelf in your shop. If your website isn’t optimised for mobile – and you don’t provide a mobile-first experience – you’ll end up with frustrated prospects who simply tap ‘back’ on their mobile browsers. And that means you’re losing out on valuable revenue.
Finally, we come to technology, the fastest-changing business driver. Be sure to leverage these trends in 2017:
- Embrace the cloud: It started with simple file storage, and it now makes it easier to run an entire business. Cloud services are robust, secure, scalable and cost effective
- Go mobile: Capitalise on the fact that your employees use smartphones and tablets. You’ll increase efficiency by using apps that allow them to perform their job on the go
- Keep an eye on the Internet of Things: The Internet of Things (IoT) is finally happening. Smart devices are now available and affordable, so get ready to capitalise on opportunities that the IoT offers your business and your customers
Make 2017 a year of efficiency and productivity
These operational, marketing and technology trends offer ways to boost efficiency and productivity, helping you increase profitability as you build your business.
Capitalising on them will not only help you win customers, but it will also make you more attractive to investors.
- Operational trends are prioritising flexibility and cost efficiency, with SMEs moving towards remote working to reduce overheads and offer staff a better work-life balance
- You need to end the scattergun approach to online marketing – review your sales and marketing strategies and focus your time and budget on the channels that deliver the most value
- Mobile platforms are essential for customer engagement and employee productivity, so look at ways you can make your approach mobile first
We’ve put together a SlideShare that will show you how to differentiate your business in a competitive landscape. View it now and use it to build your business and increase profitability.