Navigating A Volatile Ecosystem
In early December 2021, CNBC hosted a business roundtable with business leaders from various industries. The panel discussed their predictions for small business growth in 2022. Here are some gems from their conversation.
“As we go into 2022, I think it’s this theme of volatility. Volatility in our supply chain, input availability, capacity, transportation, labor, COVID adaptations to the workplace, stop-and-go and the adaptations this requires…” Shane Grant, CEO Danone North America,
Damola Adamolekun, CEO of P.F. Chang, agreed that the ability to navigate a volatile ecosystem is key to small business success. He suggested that small businesses simplify their business model. The volatility is global, but its impact varies by region. As a result, you might need to meet different requirements depending on where you are operating.
A simplified business model that can be easily and quickly adapted will help you swim through the rough seas of volatility.
Keep It Simple
According to Judy Marks, CEO of Otis Worldwide, simplicity goes beyond your business model. She suggested that you recognize the demands the volatile ecosystem is making on your team, employees, and customers and keep your work routines simple. Simplify everything you control, and you and your employees will be empowered to meet your customers’ needs.
“Change is hard, and you will find yourself having to repeat communications several times. Set the expectation that things will get worse before they get better. Katie Murphy Founder & CEO Expansion Group
With this backdrop, let’s focus on what you can do to grow your small business in 2022.
#1 Hybrid Models Will Fuel Small Business Growth In 2022
Who knows how long the pandemic will continue. The world is dealing with Omicron, and it appears there may be more variants floating around. Yet, many locations are reopening, providing a much-fatigued population the option to get out and visit their favorite providers and businesses in person.
A hybrid model will become mainstream as we move through 2022. However, it’s not all good news. According to a report from Forrester Research,
- 10% of businesses will go fully remote
- 30% will return to a strict in-office schedule, and
- 60% will try a hybrid model.
Of that 60%, Forrester predicts that one-third will fail.
Depending on your niche, you’ll probably opt for a hybrid model, at least for the near term. So how do you make sure you stay out of that one-third?
Small business growth in 2022 means creating a seamless experience between your physical location and your e-commerce presence.
Satisfy your local customers who choose to come to your physical location. At the same time, provide the same services and benefits to customers who prefer to stay home, as well as your global consumer base.
- provide an option to shop online and pick up from your store or curbside
- ensure your services or products are available in-store and on your e-commerce site
- simultaneously host virtual and in-house sales, events, product demos, seminars, and other activities on Facebook Live or other streaming platforms
- keep your live and in-house events fun, lively, and use these opportunities to share your brand story and connect with your consumers no matter where they are.
#2 Be Caring, Daring, And Persistent
The “Great Resignation” is turning out to be the “Great Innovation” as more people invest in their ideas and passions. As a result, experts anticipate that the small business community in 2022 will be much more crowded. Startup growth has also been fueled by the remote ecosystem, meaning that entrepreneurs don’t need to do business in person or hire in-office teams.
To remain competitive, you’ll need to be creative, daring, and persistent with your digital marketing strategy, but even more so with your digital presence.
A Forrester survey found that 63% of U.S. adults took on a new activity through the digital medium. In addition, 44% of respondents said they upgraded their digital tech at home, such as new computers, software, cameras, and internet connection.
Your consumers will be looking for you online. Without a digital presence, you will have a tough time growing your business or even keeping the customers you have.
#3 Stay On Top Of Social Media Trends For Small Business Growth In 2022
The world has gone digital, and your consumers want to find you there. But the demographics are changing, and the popularity of social channels fluctuates. So to be successful in meeting your small business growth goals, you’ll want to stay on top of social media trends.
Here are some current trends to keep an eye on.
Meta (formerly known as Facebook)
The leaked Facebook Papers reveal that younger consumers are using other social platforms. More than 60% of FB interactions come from users aged 45 and older. FB Reels is Meta’s answer to bring younger viewers back to the platform. This strategy may work, but in the meantime, confirm your target audience. Remember to look at your demographics and psychographics. If you’re marketing to a primarily younger audience, you might want to shift some of your marketing budget to the channels they use.
Experts predict TikTok could overtake Instagram in 2022. The social channel currently exceeds 1 billion global monthly active users. However, besides the number of users, the other exciting news is that the field is wide open for marketing and advertising. This means that you can effectively market on TikTok even with a small budget, unlike Instagram and Facebook. Incorporating UGC, influencer marketing, and employee-generated content are vital to success with this social channel.
Depending on your niche, keep an eye on Twitter. The number of daily Twitter users increased by 14% between January 2020 and January 21, according to Statista. To take on Clubhouse, the platform launched Twitter Spaces last year. It’s gaining traction slowly, but insiders expect Twitter execs to make a significant push to increase usage.
Emerging Social Channels
Rumble, an alternative to YouTube, is gaining traction. As of August 2021, the channel had 19 million views.
Other social platforms to keep your eye on are GETTR and Discord, a gaming platform gaining significant traction among younger consumers. Like TikTok, the marketing space on these emerging platforms is not yet saturated.
Check your target audience, and if it fits, you might want to experiment with these growing social channels.
#4 Keep Your Eye On Content Trends Too
The impact of the pandemic on depression and anxiety, especially among younger generations, is well-documented. Therefore, your brand messaging should speak to their needs, pain points, how your service or products address these needs.
Develop content around mental health issues, success, motivation, healthy lifestyle, and other topics that help your consumers.
Keep your content entertaining because your audience is also looking for an escape. Yet, at the same time, consumers are looking for authenticity and originality. So, show your human side and spotlight your vision and mission.
Influencer marketing is on the rise. According to Statista, influencer marketing makes up between 10-20% of the global marketing budget. Influencer marketing helps you develop and maintain long-term relationships with your consumers.
Tap into the power of macro and small influencers. And, remember, an influencer is not necessarily defined by the number of followers. Instead, an influencer is someone who can “influence” others to purchase your product or sign-up for your services.
#5 Use Message Apps For Small Business Growth In 2022
Surveys indicate that consumers want to communicate with small businesses as they do with friends and family—via text messages. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, and WeChat are today’s most popular messaging apps. With the rise of mobile devices, mobile message apps have gained prominence over text-based messaging via SMS.
Mobile messaging apps allow you to conduct video calls and share photos and videos and follow up with customers as they make their way through the buyer journey. Message chats provide you with another way to personalize the buyer experience. In addition, you can solicit immediate feedback on new service or product ideas and set up groups and brand communities.
Finally, message apps are fun to use. They provide another powerful tool for engaging with your consumers, reaching out to let them know you care and developing long-term brand loyalty.
Yes, it does appear that 2022 is looking a lot like 2021, but that’s not the end of the story. The climate continues to be favorable for startups and small business growth. Key ingredients for small business growth in 2022 are:
- compassionate, informative, and helpful messaging
- show up where your audience hangs out
- stay on top of trends
- be daring and persistent.
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Happy New Year!