Now I’m not a marketing expert, especially when it comes to the technical how to’s, but I am an engaged amateur. What do I mean by that?

Well as a business owner, direction setter and guide for others, I pay very keen attention to what appears to be working and what is not, what is appreciated and moaned about by people in my business community, social circle and wider contacts. I’ve noticed three key things so far in 2017

  1. Authenticity matters more than ever in marketing – ok it’s not a new trend, but people are getting more savvy, they are more exposed to fake authenticity and they see through it. Be yourself, for goodness sake tell the truth, and stand up for what you believe in your marketing – people want real!
  1. Marketing is getting increasingly micro – this isn’t just about creating a deep niche, it’s about people being fed up with mass marketing. They crave connection in a noisy busy world, and they follow people and businesses with whom they feel an affinity, that the business or person gets them and can help them in some way. They want to feel like they belong, and are valued.
  1. For the most part the sell or call to action is much softer – I’m not saying hard sell, high volume doesn’t work, it does – both 1:1 and one to many. Marketing, however, is not about the sale, it’s about building cohesive brand, sharing it and creating a real presence in the places your potential community hangs out. Increasingly marketing is content driven, and the call to action relates to the content. It might not be something that directly benefits the author (or company doing the marketing), it is just as likely to be something that benefits the reader only.

So what does this mean for small businesses?

In simple terms, it means you have the opportunity to get really strategic about your marketing. Yes, you show off what you do best, what you like to talk about and most importantly, your story and purpose; but you also need to be clear about the journey you want to take people on and what do you need them to understand about you, your brand and your offering.

This journey is about connection, developing trust and familiarity, so share your expertise and both expose and cover off potential objections or reservations people may have about working with you, or buying your products.

Like most journeys, your marketing needs to take people somewhere, even if it is softer than some of the launch campaigns or blast marketing we have seen in recent years. So, when designing your strategy be clear about where you want to take people – it might be awareness and community building, it might be a high volume launch or high cost sale, the road map for each may be different, but the experience of the journey, the feeling, the connection and the sense of being in the right place needs to be consistent.

In 2017, my advice is have some fun and be yourself in your marketing, at the same time be clear about what it is for and what you need to achieve.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments about this.