Like everything else, the business world experiences fads and trends. Some are indeed merely passing fads, but some trends establish themselves firmly as a permanent part of the business landscape. There are many prevalent trends in today’s business world: globalization, corporate responsibility, sustainability, environmental consciousness, technology, remote workforces, and diversity — to name just a few. However, there are other trends that appear to be here to stay and should be ignored at one's peril. The two mentioned below may not be on every CEO's top list of concerns; however, they are trends that have infiltrated every successful business, and are likely to stay around for the foreseeable future. They affect every business from sole proprietorships to multinationals.
1. Social Media
This is one of the most significant changes affecting the ways in which organizations market themselves to customers; if there is anyone out there whose business is not actively engaging in social media, chances are they will not be in business in another ten years. Social media is where customers are, where they communicate and network. Businesses need to be there too.
Social media is not about blatant self-promotion and sales. The more successful business users are engaging in conversations with customers, responding (instantly) to queries and complaints, and providing interesting and informative content. Their websites have blogs, regularly updated with fresh content, that help their search engine optimization and marketing initiatives, while also offering information and education to their clients. They tweet regularly — but not so frequently that they drive followers crazy — and their tweets are interesting, informative, and supportive of others, while defining the persona for their business. They actively engage with other businesses and potential clients on LinkedIn and use their Facebook page for publicizing promotions and updates.
Some companies are reluctant to engage actively in social media because they think this is not where their potential customers are, or they do not have time for it, or it is not an appropriate medium for their marketing efforts. The statistics, however, tell a different tale. The following statistics are courtesy of Cara Pring, in her report titled "99 New Social Media Stats".
- 90% of marketers use social media channels for business, with 93% of these rating social tools as "important"
- 43% of marketers have noticed an improvement in sales due to social campaigns
- 53% of small businesses are using social media
- 88% believe exposure is the biggest benefit
- LinkedIn is 4 times better for B2B lead generation than Facebook and Twitter
- 23% of Fortune 500 companies have a public-facing corporate blog
- 58% of Fortune 500 companies have an active corporate Facebook account
- 62% have an active corporate Twitter account
- Social media users are willing to pay a 21% premium for brands that deliver great service through social media
Small businesses can use tools such as HootSuite to manage a range of social media channels in little more than 30 minutes a day. Larger businesses may choose to delegate their social media activities, and that is fine — provided the employee responsible has a full understanding of the organization's business persona, concerns, goals, and ethics!
2. Customer Relations
A switch to customer focus has been one of the most important trends of the past decade. Savvy business owners realize the importance of listening to their customers and targeting their marketing and sales efforts to the needs that they have established as a result. One-size-fits-all marketing is no longer adequate; well-organized customer data and effective feedback channels are essential for doing business in today's marketplace. Successful marketers are using customer data to personalize their communications. Customers also engage more readily with websites whose messages emphasize "you" rather than "we" and appear to offer solutions to their problems.
InSite is an award-winning global leader in cloud-based management information systems that allow you to connect, engage, and relate to your customers and employees. The company has offices in North America, Europe, Middle East, and Asia. InSite specializes in the development and delivery of customer information systems and human resource information systems to hundreds of clients worldwide, including Nestlé, Disney, University of Houston, Talisman Energy, Via Rail Canada, LG Mobile Phones, and ABC News.