What does your smoke or vape shop’s marketing strategy look like for the next year? Has your marketing team begun to integrate the latest emerging technologies and trends into your plan? Do you even have a marketing team (don’t fret if you don’t)? What worked last year is yesterday’s victory, and will not guarantee your shop today’s customers. You need a marketing strategy set up for the long-term, one that is sustainable.

Even when it comes to small shops and businesses, marketing is trending more and more digital and will continue to do so over the next few years. Your everyday customers want quality service in new and innovative ways, through the use of visual content and cutting-edge technologies such as Artificial Intelligence. And while that may sound like a tall order, it’s actually quite simple, even for the smallest of businesses.

“Small business owners think that their options are limited,” says Adam Mizrahi, founder, and CEO of Creative Propulsion Labs, full-service marketing solutions firm in Miami, Florida. “The truth is, your small business can go beyond the typical — there’s more out there than just Facebook and email.”

So, is your small business prepared for some of these new trends? Well, you may be more prepared than you think.

Below we will discuss everything your business needs to know to survive, and thrive in the age of small business marketing over the next year and beyond. So, put away those direct mailers because here are the top small business marketing trends for 2019, all of which are easier than you think:

Customer Experience
We’ve written about this before, but in 2019, customer experience, or CX, is no longer just the purview of large conglomerates like Amazon and Google. Increased competition everywhere, from online to local brick and mortar shops means your company needs to build a sustainable CX to stay competitive. More importantly, your CX needs the right digital platform to engage your audience.

“Customers want a place where they feel welcome,” says Mizrahi. “The retail experience is no longer transactional, it’s functional. Customers want to feel welcome, and what’s familiar makes them feel welcome.”

Businesses today are transforming from simple supply-chain managers to productivity providers — and this goes for small businesses as well. They offer up digital platforms that furnish advice and support, forging partnerships that take a holistic view of the old retail model.

Content Is King
Here is something for you to consider, content marketing is a significant cost saving over traditional marketing, and it brings in three times as many leads, according to statistics over at DemandMetric. And the market for it will only grow more prominent in 2019. Believe it or not, even your small business needs a quality pipeline of content combined with a well-planned SEO strategy.

“Start a blog,” says Mizrahi. “Starting a blog is one of the easiest ways to keep your customers engaged with content. You don’t have to post every day, but every few days, or at least once a week to start. These days publishing platforms make posting a blog simple, and the return on investment is beyond what you could imagine.”

For those of you that are daring, you may want to go beyond just text. While great writing helps, customers want interactive formats that are media-based, like video. Remember, you are selling to a mobile generation. Over ninety-three percent of marketers use content marketing, which means if you are not in that group, you are not competing.

Customer Segmentation
In the digital landscape, content alone is not enough. Your marketing strategy needs to serve up the right content to the right customers, and you need to do it in a timely fashion. In 2019 it is imperative that you use marketing automation to segment your customer base; the more data, the better.

“Again, this is not a complicated process, even for small businesses,” says Mizrahi. “If you’re having a sale on vape products, you don’t want to waste resources notifying all of your cigar purchasers, for example. This is why even small businesses need to segment their customer base. A targeted marketing campaign will do wonders for both your budget and your revenue.”

For your strategy to work, you need to send targeted messages to the correct customer segment. Gone also are the days of reams and reams of useless data. Today’s small businesses need to use real-time data analytics to be one step ahead of the competition. You need to pay attention to the analytics provided by Facebook and other services. The date means something and can be useful.

A.I. (Artificial Intelligence)
One of 2019’s sizeable innovations will be A.I. or artificial intelligence. It is one of the top ways you can sift through all of that data that you are going to collect this year. Using chatbots for your sales and services will help your business grow one step ahead of your competition. IoT devices can help provide user insights, and virtual reality devices are changing the user experience.

“These may sound complicated and out there for the local vape shop,” says Mizrahi, “and for many small businesses that may be true. But if you have plans to grow your business in 2019, then you’ll want to look into the latest in A.I. It’s the fastest and easiest way to streamline — well everything!”

Facebook And LinkedIn
In many ways, social media in 2018 is a case of “what goes around comes around,” or “the old becoming new again.” Facebook Ads have upped their targeting capabilities at a very affordable cost for your business. Meanwhile, LinkedIn is about so much more than Inmail ads that no one reads. New algorithms that target the right customers have turned this stale networking site into a customer engagement paradise.

“As much as the new shiny toys will help your small business get to the next level, it’s still the basics that got you there,” says Mizrahi. “Facebook and LinkedIn work. Instagram is great. These are tried and true mediums, so use them.”

Innovation Is Key
Successful small businesses take risks. You will need to step out of your comfort zone and begin to embrace new technologies as well as new strategies. Resist the urge to say, “but that’s how we’ve always done things.” Doing so could be the death of your business.

“What’s most important is that you don’t let your business strategy get stale,” says Mizrahi. “And don’t be afraid to try new things. Just because you run a small business or local shop doesn’t mean some of the latest trends and technologies don’t apply to you.”

The possibilities to reshape your business in 2019 are plenty. Other things your team will want to explore include:

Live streaming
forget about webinars and online open house events

Visual Content
infographics and other content made for mobile

Podcasts
they have been around forever, but are emerging in the marketing field

Account Based Marketing
target high profile accounts and cut through the noise

SEO
the rules are changing, make sure you keep up

Marketing in 2019 means throwing out everything you learned last year. Your business needs to embrace change and be ready to disrupt — or else face being disrupted. SVBS

 

Brandon A. Dorfman is the Senior Writer/ Project Manager for Creative Propulsion Labs, a Miami-based marketing firm that provides comprehensive solutions in web, print, and digital marketing. Their services include user interface design, application design and development, web design, branding, corporate design services, digital advertising, social media marketing, content development, SEO, affiliate marketing, conversion optimization, and more. You can reach Creative Propulsion Labs at (786) 360-1669 or via email at [email protected]. Or you can visit www.creativepl.com for more information.