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Top 2 Hot Small Business Marketing Trends of 2018

Marketing Outlook 2018: What’s The Hot Platform? The Best Medium?

2017 saw a lot of interesting developments in tools more than tactics; but 2018 looks like it will see the expansion of a new platform and the return of a medium. What does it mean for products, services, and marketing?

The Hot Platform of 2018: The Rise of Voice

Voice search isn’t new. Siri and her friends have been around for a while now, but voice interaction is moving to a whole new level. Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Home, and Apple’s yet-to-be-released HomePod are bringing interaction to a level we cannot get our brains around yet. Remember, Amazon just bought Whole Foods.

“On demand” is going to be a whole different game when we can ask, “Hey, Alexa. Order me more paper towels.” Understand that the cost difference may be eliminated by the time savings between uttering those words vs. getting into your vehicle, driving to a store, shopping, checking out, driving home… oh yeah, you forgot the laundry detergent. How much is that time worth?

As 2017 comes to a close, we are seeing more and more devices becoming integrated with these near-AI assistants. From wireless speakers like Sonos and Echo to a new generation of wearables, voice-commanded shopping/fulfillment is just getting warmed up.

Where voice becomes even more evocative is the delivery of content. “Hey, Alexa,” you call out, “I need some BBQ recipes for dinner.” Alexa can deliver a variety of options. The question becomes, if you’re Sweet Baby Ray’s or Open Pit – are you coming up with content to answer those questions? Stubb’s, an Austin-based BBQ mecca, already has this down (see video below). You’re not just getting search results, your Alexa Skills is interacting with the user. AI meets branded content.

But shopping and cooking are just a minor component to the platform. The American Heart Association has emergency skills. You can ask how to perform CPR, ask about the warning signs of either a stroke or heart attack. Heart.org details this in an article from February.

Developing content for this platform will be one of the hottest commodities of 2018. Just how much time is reclaimed in your day could be even more significant. Solutions from, “Hey, Alexa. Order me a Papa John’s pizza,” to “Google, how do I change a flat tire?” is just a shout away.

Newscred assembled a great summary article that walks you through just how far these platforms have come.

The Medium of 2018: The Renaissance of the Podcast

The mid-2000’s were an interesting time in marketing. The Web was just hitting its stride and social media was on the horizon. Online music was finally getting over Napster and producing your own podcast was one mystery — distributing your podcast was another. In came YouTube and the podcast faded from prominence with the easy-to-use online video platform.

Video rode the wave of prominence, but there was one distinct challenge. You needed to watch and listen. Multi-tasking at work while watching a vlog is difficult for some and impossible for others. Podcasts with the audio-only platform allow subscribers to listen AND. Listen AND run. Listen AND work. Listen AND drive.

Ten years later, the podcast has risen like a content phoenix. Listener numbers are through the roof.

According to an Edison Research study, 24% of Americans over 12 years old have listened to a podcast in the last month. This is up over 20% between 2016 and 2017 alone.

Why are podcasts so critical now? Time. For both the listener and the producer, podcasts have become very easy to distribute or consume.

The rise of podcasting has also introduced a host of tools that make the process infinitely easier. Back in the day you needed the right microphone, setup, and distribution. Today, we have smartphones and apps. What might have required hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in 2007 can be done with your smartphone and an app like Anchor.

As easy as podcasts are to produce, they are even easier to consume. With a wide selection of distribution platforms even the novice user can reach an incredible audience. Between the growth in listeners and the availability of easy distribution tools, podcasting will continue to hold our attention throughout 2018.

Why 2018 Will Be Different

Whether you want to call it attention, eyeballs, influence, or convenience, the chief commodity marketers are trading on is time. The question to most businesses: How can your product or service trade on this commodity?

With voice integration and podcasting, consumers are becoming more conscious of budgeting their time/attention. From ordering more laundry soap with a shout and not a click to keeping up with an influencers’ podcast while running on a treadmill, gains and losses to time will be measured in seconds. If your business can find ways to save time, reduce friction, or just offer help, these voice-driven elements will be must-haves.

If you haven’t gotten your marketing strategy put together, or if you would like to infuse some fresh ideas into your strategy, reach out to your creative marketing guides and outfitters at Signalfire. We’d be thrilled to help.