The small, solo and micro businesses that jump on these trends quickly will have a real edge over the majority and will create a bigger opportunity for success this year. Look at each of these trends and brainstorm how you could integrate them into your business.
1. Creating an interactive experience with your website you need to find a way to engage and interact with website visitors. You can do this by creating videos, audios, compelling blogs or forums or adding free widgets or resources. Video is definitely exploded as the preferred interactive media. Download a free version of Cam Studio, or purchase a webcam with microphone and you’re in business. Upload your video to YouTube and post the link on your webpage.
2. Social network marketing or media Write articles and submit to article directories, leave comments on relevant blogs and popular forums, create a lens and join groups at Squidoo.com. Post press releases on free online press release sites, start a Face book page, ask others to bookmark your WebPages on sites like del.icio.us. Place a profile and build a network on LinkedIn.com. That’s not even scratching the surface. You can build a huge network and drive massive traffic to your website through social network marketing or Web 2.0. No business can ignore this, even if you’re primarily local. If you want to learn how to use Web 2.0 to drive traffic to your website, go to www.MaximizeYourWebsiteNow.com.
3. Customer power Involve your customers in an interactive way to help you decide what your next product or service will be. Give them choices. The internet has shifted power to the consumer and you want to be on the bandwagon. Ask people to sign up for your e-mail list so you can ask their opinion through surveys…
4.Design is hot right now in all areas or product creation. Look at Target. It’s also hot online. Look at all the design options available at MySpace. Update your graphic look or website design to show that you’re not stuck in the 90′s.
We are all suffering from shorter attention spans-a kind of mild ADHD-due to being bombarded daily with more information than we can process. Develop a talent for breaking information down into specific important nuggets if you want to be noticed. You can do this when writing e-mails or articles, WebPages or marketing materials. It’s especially important when you write a subject line or headline. If you create information products, focus on one specific topic, rather than taking a general approach.
6. Go green.
It’s no longer optional and everyone is doing it, even Wal-Mart! See where you can use green practices in your business, even it’s just using energy efficient bulbs or doing a better job of recycling. Donate to green causes. Use green materials. Let your clients know about your green practices in your marketing materials and on your website.
7. Think global.
If you have special knowledge to share, and almost every business owner does, think of packaging it as an e-product that can be sold to thousands of people who would love to know what you know. You can sell your knowledge globally rather than just sharing it with a few hundred people locally. Info products are bigger than ever, with an ever-growing global market of English-speaking business people clamoring for knowledge.
8. Update and increase your use of technology and automation.
If you’re still using outdated technology or little at all, you’re going to be left behind if you don’t “bite the bullet” and update. Learn to maximize the use of database software, e-mail, e-fax, and bookkeeping software. Learn to make regular updates to your website yourself and to use an auto responder to keep in touch with clients by e-mail. Learn to make videos and upload them and digital photos to the web. Maybe you need a PDA or scheduling software. Many professions have software that’s been customized to help you streamline your business. Think of the most time consuming tasks in your business and do some research to see if there is a technology solution that could automate some processes.
9. Strategic alliances and joint ventures this is huge. There are other successful business owners who have already spent time, money and effort acquiring the clients you want. If you have a product or knowledge that they don’t, but which would benefit their clients or subscribers, you can set up a partnership with them to endorse your product for a percentage of sales. You can do the same for others who have products your clients would buy but that you don’t offer. This is a topic worth exploring because 20% of revenues from the top 2000 European and US companies come from strategic alliances and joint ventures. This is a secret success tool for small businesses that can double or triple your sales.