5 Marketing Tools Trends to Watch in 2011

Which Marketing Tools will count in 2011?

New Year, New Marketing Tools

It is the end of a very interesting a tough year for small business.  Some of you are just happy you’ve managed to keep your doors opened this long. Others of you realized that if you’re going to make it to 2010, you’ll need to look for some new tools  to help you market and grow your business.  So what is on the horizon in 2011?

My recap of the major marketing tool trends is listed below.  It isn’t a comprehensive list, but it does represent those marketing tools that are becoming critical to every small business.

  • All things Social – Social networks like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter continues to create ripples in marketing.  Facebook is becoming an innovative powerhouse with the new ways they are approaching messaging, networking and even advertising.  It’s product and service offerings cover a wide net, from Grandparents, to family and friends, to businesses seeking additional online exposure.  Linkedin continues to be a place for the business professional to show off their expertise while Twitter continues tweet its way into people’s lives.  The bottom line is that using social networks to build communities and relationships for your business will continue to grow in importance.
  • All things Mobile – Mobile phones remains popular and persists in expanding its capabilities.  There is almost nothing a smart phone can’t do sans brew a good cup of coffee. Increased capabilities of the mobile phone creates an owner dependency that rivals one’s wallet.  In fact, mobile phones are becoming so ingrained in our society that they are the new wallet.  Reality:  There are almost 5 times more people carrying around their cell phones than there are surfing around on the web, which leads to mobile advertising.  Advertising networks can’t ignore these kinds of numbers and are offering businesses various ways to reach out and touch these mobile phone addicts.  Mobile advertising is currently inexpensive and provides robust targeting capabilities so you can zero-in on your target audience and do so without the media waste associated with newspapers, radio and Yellow Pages.  Cautionary note: Get smart about mobile advertising BEFORE starting a campaign.  Your ads needs to be formatted for mobile as does a section of your web site.  Before spending precious dollars with mobile developers, check out free or inexpensive online sources and courses.   Test the waters or you could lose a lot of money.
  • Facebook Advertising – Speaking of online advertising, Facebook is leading the charge with intelligent targeting of ads.  Again, ads are inexpensive and you can finely target your ad to your IDEAL customer and local community.  Reread my cautionary note above.
  • Coupons – Who knew something as ancient as a coupon could become cool again?  Groupon is the big guerrilla in the coupon market, but there are hundreds of upstarts trying to refine and tailor the discount concept to fit select industries such as the restaurant industry (discounts during downtime only).  Upside?  Attractive discounts do stimulate trial, which is what they are designed to do.  Downside?  There is a whole segment of the market who have become discount-holics.  You know the type.  They only visit your place when there is a discount offer and never pay full fare for anything if they can help it.  There is also the possibility that if a business uses coupons too frequently, customers come to expect it.  Coupons are a bit like the treats used to train a puppy.  So businesses need to be careful about what products and services they discount and have a program to convert trials into raving fans while recognizing the downside risks.
  • Word-of-Mouth – Word-of-mouth advertising is as old as the hills and remains as priceless as gold.  One overriding objective of any/all of the above marketing tools is create raving fans, who in turn, will refer your business/service on to others through word-of-mouth (aka Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc.).  Think  hard about  you can tap into these networks to generate word-of-mouth marketing for your small business because it can mean the difference between a great year and a not so great year.

Do you have to attack all of these marketing tool trends?  No.  There are so many hours in the day and small business owners need to focus their efforts.  Your best bet for success is to review this list, try to find out more about the trends and then think about your IDEAL customer.  Ask yourself which of these tools makes sense for your customers and, therefore, for your business.  Once you’ve identified those marketing tools that make sense for your customers, create a strategy as to how to incorporate the selected marketing tool or tools into your overall communications plan.

As I said, this list of major marketing tools isn’t comprehensive, but if you would like to add additional tools to the list  above, feel free to do so in the comments section below.  Your comments and suggestions are always welcomed.

Wishing all of you a very happy and prosperous 2011.

Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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