Last year was exciting. Overall, the American economy continued to grow with most projections at 2.1%, which is a slower pace than what some would like to see. The Unemployment rate is below 5%, or 10% for those of you wanting a more true accounting of the labor force versus the government’s accounting of it. And, the national elections had everyone in suspense and continues to hold interesting prospects for 2017. There have been some amazing trends in technology, business strategies, and marketing to capitalize upon for 2017. Our list of 8 business trends is by no means a comprehensive list, but it does give you a taste of what you should take advantage of for the coming year to increase sales and productivity. There are some new terms here, so don’t be shy to look deeper into them to see how they can help you over the next year.
1. Customer-Centric Marketing
You’re probably wondering, “What does that mean?” It means you know your customers and are able to engage with them in personalized and frequent ways that are relevant to your relationship. With all of the choices available to consumers today, customer loyalty goes as far as their next purchase. For years, you may have taken their purchasing habits for granted. Not this year. Customer-centric marketing builds and maintains (the key here is to maintain) brand loyalty.
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Cloud-based applications, social media, and a whole list of other technologies have begun to fundamentally transform how business works. Small, tech-savvy businesses are increasing their productivity, giving them the ability to service more customers in a shorter amount of time. These businesses are highly competitive and gaining market share.
3. The Paperless Office
Businesses have been migrating away from paper-based office environments for decades and continue to turn away from paper-based filing. The trend is more than a “going green” movement. It saves time and money, as well as increasing accessibility for employees away from the office. Cost-effective cloud services secure important documents and can be shared anywhere in the world, or across town at your other store.
4. Data Informed Decision Making
Through the combination of technology and good ol’ accounting principles, your company can capture the data and produce analytics that it needs to improve your weaknesses, while accentuating your strengths.
5. Better Social Media Practices
This builds upon the first trend in our list. More frequent and relevant posts in social media can inform and engage your customers. Front-of-mind marketing works and has returns to equal or exceed your investment. You may want to consider hiring someone from the outside to make it happen, rather then lose customers.
6. Growing Freelance Work Force
Major corporations are using proven freelancers versus hiring temps. The freelance workforce is more agile and cost-effective than hiring and training new employees. These external resources act as internal employees and can hit the ground running on any projects you may have.
Even small businesses need to keep their customer and operations data safe. Any misstep in cyber-security can be catastrophic for your business. Moving your business into the cloud is an excellent way to prevent hacking. Another step is using chip readers for credit cards to prevent skimming. Protecting your data is no longer paranoia, it’s good for business.
8. Investing in Employees
Millennials are the largest segment in the workforce and quickly becoming leaders in the office and board room. Invest in your younger employees through online training and education, where they can learn and develop their management skills while working.
Many of the changes in technology and the workforce may seem minor, but can have a dramatic effect on the way you do business. Large corporations have used many of these business trends with positive results. Now, small companies can reap the benefits of their research and best practices, such as cloud-based applications, cyber-security, and marketing. Customize these trends to fit your business culture and environment in order to get the best of what’s to come in 2017.
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