What trends will shape your business practices in 2014? We’ve rounded up the ones you should pay attention to from business writers across the web.
Business never stops. While 2013 is coming to an end, we’re looking ahead to next year at trends in sales, marketing and tech. They’ll shape the business world throughout 2014.
Take look and see what’s coming to get ready for a prosperous New Year!
If there’s one dominating trend to pinpoint in 2014, it almost surely is location-based marketing. This makes use of GPS technology to deliver multimedia content tailored to the geographical location straight to the potential customer’s mobile device. This helps to cater more specifically to users’ needs, and both marketers and consumers are expecting more of this in 2014. Already there are social apps including Ban.jo, Path, and Foursquare that provide vital consumer data.
91 percent of adult mobile phone owners have their devices within arm’s reach 24/7 and location-based marketing could exploit this massively.
Social Media Diversification
It’s no longer only Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Though these are the most popular, networks such as Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram are on the surge too. While 93 percent of marketers have claimed that social media is an integral part of their marketing in 2013, the number of visitors to these social networks will increase further next year. This means more and more marketers are capitalizing on this and will focus more on in 2014. They will seek to establish a significant presence for themselves in the aforementioned networks to build their brand and connect with potential customers.
Paid advertising will also increase, particularly on Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
The rise of the individual & “marketing as a service”
For most organizations social networking has been a marketing machine, providing the ability to build armies of advocates for your brand. As we enter into the next phase of social, it will be less about how many likes you can get, and more focused on the quality of those likes and who is doing the liking. Social, driven by the new behavioral data, will allow organizations to capitalize on this trend and individualize consumers.
Social takes on talent management
Similar to how marketers will personalize consumers’ experiences, human resource departments will also begin to capitalize on the power of social by integrating it into their Human Capital Management systems in order to deepen loyalty and engagement with employees. In a world where employees move from job to job at a rapid pace, when it comes to human capital, loyalty trumps everything. Organizations are searching for a means to not only recruit the right candidates, but more importantly retain and nuture that talent to become passionate, engaged and loyal.
In 2014, we’ll begin to see organizations tapping social and behavioral data to better understand what is important to employees, what motivates them, why they stay with an organization and much more. Say good-bye to the traditional HR survey and embrace a new set of social behavioral assets to build your elite workforce.
New tools and techniques will bring 3D printing power to corporations and the masses
A future where digital functionality can be “printed into” a physical object will continue to be built on in 2014, driven by new toolkits, services, and platforms and innovative business models and processes, such as online 3D printing bureaus and crowdfunding sites.
New analytics tools will emerge to handle the big data deluge:
The technology world hasn’t quite caught up with the need for trained data scientists and the demand for easy-to-use tools that can give industries the ability to analyze the data they gather. The current level of extreme data demands new data management technologies and processes and new leaders will emerge in this arena in 2014.
Mobile infrastructure must catch up with user needs and demands
Mobile computing systems must rise to the demands being placed on them by consumers, businesses, and emergency responders. Many systems operate within degraded network, power, or computing environments. Researchers must develop tools, middleware, and applications that can help with these quality-of-service issues
Continued growth in marketing’s use of technology
Last year, Gartner released a study that claimed that by 2017, the Chief Marketing Officer would spend more dollars on technology than the Chief Information Officer. Regardless of whether that claim will be fully realized, the reality is that marketing departments in 2014 will continue a trend of investing in significant technology out of their own budgets as more and more marketing is done in the digital space and better tools become available. Everything from content managed websites to marketing automation software, CRM systems, social media management tools and project collaboration software are helping to make marketing efforts more effective and efficient.
Less focus on keywords, more focus on overall content
Google quietly released Hummingbird, their latest algorithm update, a couple months back. And while the update represents as close to an entirely new algorithm as they’ve had in 12 years, marketers should focus less on the details of the update and more on the philosophy that’s driving the changes in the first place. Hummingbird increased Google’s focus on “semantic search,” giving the search engine a better understanding of concepts, meaning and intent, instead of just focusing on individual keywords—all to provide relevant, high-quality resources for search queries.
This means that in 2014, marketers will continue to focus less on keywords and more on creating quality content aimed at answering specific, long-tail questions and search queries of a particular target audience. Marketers will need to deeply understand the questions and concerns of their target audiences in order to write content that provides answers for what they are searching for.
The rise of short video
People hate wasting time. I find myself, like many others, looking at the length of the video before deciding to watch it. Anything more than three minutes and I am not usually interested.
Short video is making waves in the marketing world with popular networks like Vine building around the concept. Instagram’s video upload has added popularity to this trends and brands are already experimenting with video to share brand experiences. Check out the Yuppiechef Instagram profile to see how they are using video to let customers into the everyday life of their business.
A great educational YouTube channel is Minute Physics, which shares physics lessons in one minute. With a little over 2-million views it’s proving a very successful education channel.
B2B will find more success through education rather than conversation
In the past B2C (business to consumer) companies have had success in social media channels by creating conversation and inviting the consumers to join them. B2B (business to business) organizations saw this success and decided to adopt the same strategy.
Over the past few years B2B organizations are maturing in their understanding of their social analytics and are realizing that conversation is possible in their industries but not necessarily the most valuable marketing component.
In 2014 we will see more B2B organizations move towards education strategies instead of conversation strategies. Educating customers on the value and potential of their services.
Content Becomes Emperor
Last year, people said, “content is king.” In 2014, content will continue to be the core to building value and getting heard above the noise. Buyers (and Google) value the best educators, as Marcus Sheridan of TheSalesLion.com says.
It used to be that companies feared sharing their best stuff on their websites. As more initial investigations for solutions move to search engines, your ability to stand out from the crowd comes down to whether or not you are addressing the most important questions for your ideal customer. If you are stuck with your head in the sand, you might just get run over.
Collaborative Sourcing and Selling
Over the past five years, there was a trend of buyers beating up on weaker suppliers. While the short-term goal of the buyer was a reduction in costs, the unintended consequence was the destruction of many suppliers and companies who either lacked a competitive advantage, or failed to identify their lack of negotiation and sales prowess before it was too late.
Ultimately, buyers lost a portion of their supply chain. The more sophisticated buyers will seek sellers with whom they can work collaboratively to obtain the greatest value. Buyers realize that the cheapest price has little meaning if the vendor cannot deliver as needed.
Collaborative selling will reward results and outcomes, but will continue to punish those selling commodities.
Sick of Waiting for the Economy – Build your own
Most economists say that the economy will continue to bump along in 2014. Innovative companies with a great story will start putting their capital reserves to work to build their own economy. The economy grows when businesses grow. And, those with creativity and value will get tired of waiting for the so-called “economy” and will build their own environment to thrive. This will drive accelerated growth in the latter half of 2014 to carry into a strong 2015.
From B2B sales and marketing trends for 2014
Disintermediation of the Field Sales Force
Buyers have access to more information than ever and the playing field has leveled. Procurement teams are coming to the table with much clearer ideas of what they need—and what it should cost. As a result, today’s reps aren’t entering the decision making process until much later in the cycle, when their prospect has already sifted through and done hard comparisons of all the alternatives.
This trend resonates strongly with content marketing trends: Wouldn’t it be nice if your rep, once they’ve engaged with a prospect, has the credibility advantage of coming in for the sale after the prospect has qualified you with exhaustive research that was shaped in part by your online thought leadership?
Sales Response Time is Crucial
If the Internet has achieved anything, it has sharpened the human desire for immediate gratification to a razor edge. If I don’t see what I want right away, I click off the page in a second. This process bleeds over to sales response time. We still see companies with healthy inbound lead programs, but the rope has gone slack with the marketing-to-sales handoff. In fact, 51.4 percent of B2B leads are never called at all.
The 21st century belongs to the quick and the nimble. Research has shown that delaying a follow-up call by even 25 minutes can have huge implications for your close rate. This delicate little linkage between marketing and sales will continue to be a critical, and often tragically overlooked, factor for success.