How Market Trends Can Impact Your Small Business

As a small business it is important to be aware of the trends occurring within your market in order to assist you with your future business and marketing plans. Identifying the market trends that will impact on your business enables you to gain a competitive advantage by identifying future opportunities before your competitors, protect yourself against possible threats to your business and most importantly identify how you can better meet the needs of your customers now and in the future.

A trend is any significant change to your market (both positive and negative) that your business may need to respond to. For example, a trend in the food market may be a move to low GI products due to an increase in health consciousness amongst consumers. A trend in the accountancy market may be a move to clients wanting additional services such as management consultancy.

The impact of specific trends will vary considerably by market or industry so it is important to only identify the trends which will have an impact on your business performance in the future. Trends that may impact your business include changes to:

  • Customer demographics eg. changes in age, marital status or income
  • Customer needs eg. customer attitudes and/or behaviour eg. changes to customers purchasing habits
  • Product or service features and benefits eg. innovations
  • Market pricing eg. move to discounting or permanent price reductions
  • Technology eg. internet usage, electronic ordering, global access or production improvements
  • Economic factors eg. changes to exports, imports, employment, inflation, economic growth or interest rates
  • Government regulations and policies eg. taxation laws, tender processes, pricing restrictions or change in government
  • Global factors eg. terrorism, wars, free trade agreements or developments in Asia
  • Social behaviour eg. changes to health, safety, environmental concerns, multiculturalism or workforce make-up
  • Types of media people use eg. internet, pay TV, changes to readership and viewing patterns or the introduction of new media such as social networking websites
  • Cyclical patterns (one industry impacting on another) eg. a change in housing demands impacting the construction market

When trying to identify the market trends that will impact on your business it is often helpful to look at overseas information and see which trends are occurring in an equivalent market to yours. Trends may occur a year or so ahead in an overseas country and knowing about them now enables you to plan for the future. If you don’t currently have access to overseas information, the internet is a great place to start your search.

Trends can also be identified by profiling your customer and looking at what their needs and wants are now and how they are likely to change. Conducting a survey with your existing customers that specifically covers these issues will enable you to start identifying your market trends.

Copyright © Marketing for Business Success Pty Ltd 2007

Home Based Small Business – Trend? You Tell Me

With millions of people losing their jobs in 2009, there has been an increase in people looking for home based small business opportunities. In this information age, the opportunities one can become involved in are endless, thus, the need for direction and vision are vital to attaining long term success! In this article, I will explain why one industry is growing, and is set to explode in the next twenty years: this is a home business in that builds assets.

A home based small business that builds assets is highly feasible at this time for several reasons. Firstly, it appeals to and addresses the needs of the baby boomers. With some 76 million people in this age group, and an average of 8,600 of them turning 65 every day, a small home business will prosper, if it can meet the needs of these people! Since the boomer generation encompasses those born between 1946-1964, this is a trend that will go on for the next 20 years!

Now, how does a home based small business that builds assets meet the needs of the baby boomers? The answer is twofold. First, it addresses their need and desire, not to mention that of many others, for assets that hold and/or increase in value. Many people in this age group have been financially set back due to decreases in home value and outright loss of investments. The state of the economy has caused many people to begin investing in gold and silver, that never did before.

The second way that a home based small business, especially one in network marketing, is set to explode, is due to the fact that many of these baby boomers need additional income, with the job losses nationwide, and the onset of the retirement years which most are just not ready for financially.

Even if a business satisfies just one of these needs of the boomer generation, it would likely prosper; but to satisfy both, puts that business in an excellent position. For an example of a home based small business that satisfies both of these needs, please visit my website.

11 Small Business Trends for 2012

Each year I write an article focused on trend for the coming year. I am writing this one a little earlier this year, September vs. December, so we as small business owners have some time to adapt these trends into your strategic planning for next year.

#1 Trend – Value Proposition Must Be Bigger Than Ever.
Consumers are much smarter, better informed and more discerning than ever before. The internet has given them the inside edge. You now have to be able to quantify your value to them. If you don’t, your competitors will. One example of a way to add value instantly is to sit down together prior to the sale. This personal touch creates the opportunity to add value.

#2 Trend – Listening to Customers in New and Creative Ways.
There are many more opportunities to listen to your customer today. We must learn to use these new avenues of communication. Face to face feedback, surveys, emails, online surveys, Facebook online conversations, tweets, company websites, online watchdog groups, are an example of a few of the communication opportunities that we have. If you have not been paying attention to it, you need to start. Each year that goes by our younger generation is getting older. This means that they are savvier and used to getting all their info online.

#3 Trend – Aggressively Identifying and Pursuing New Opportunities for Growth.
This isn’t different from what every business does all the time, is it? Actually it is. Why? During a slow economic time there is a greater opportunity for both growth of geographic footprint and customer acquisition. Savvy SBO’s realize that our recovery is slower than expected and in order to increase revenue and profitability pursuing new opportunities for expansion is of great importance.

#4 Trend – Creating Stronger Stakeholder Relationships.
Remember if your business is hurting so is theirs. This is the time to sit down with your key customers, suppliers and channel partnerships to discuss price negotiations, payment options, other products available. They know what is happening in the industry. Meaning, they know what your competitors are selling the most of. Ask them what they would recommend you focus on. I wouldn’t follow what they say blindly, but it is good info to have. If your business increases so does theirs. They want you to be successful.

#5 Trend – Capitalize on Emerging Markets
Is it possible for you to do business outside of your local area? Nationally? Internationally? Don’t discount growth outside of your current footprint. With the internet you never know where your next big customer can come from

#6 Trend – Segmentation for Profitability
By segmenting your customer base you can focus more efforts on what you consider the most profitable target market. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Too many companies decided this was their best strategy during the recession and ended up losing even more money.

#7 Trend – Creating Quality Content Online
Creating quality content for your customer base and prospect base is becoming more and more important to win online attention. Don’t sell. Inform. Help your consumers understand how to use your products and services more effectively. Get them excited about being in touch. Help them to spread good word of mouth about you. This will happen when you have meaningful “conversations” with them online.

#8 Trend – Increasing the Online Marketing Budget.
Data is showing that more and more small businesses are moving away from traditional marketing budgets and investing more in the social online venues. Good news: People are getting that online marketing works…..especially social media. Bad news: They think this can totally take the place of traditional marketing. Increase your online budget but don’t have it replace your traditional budget. Move your traditional budget around a little and be smart about it.

#9 Trend – Mobile Marketing
Do you have an App for that? Mobile marketing is the growth industry. Although it is in its infancy it will grow quickly. I already have an App for the Entrepreneurial Excellence Radio Show. How cool is that? And….it was free! A great word for SBO’s. Speak with your local marketing expert and see how you can become part of this growing market.

#10 – Geo Target Marketing
Creating targeted, local marketing campaigns using tools like Yelp, GroupOn and the like will become more powerful this year. The internet is becoming what you want it to be. Local, regional, national or international…maybe soon Galaxical! Is that a word? Anyway, you know what I mean. Get up to date on these things and take advantage.

#11 – Co-Marketing
Create greater perceived value by co-marketing with businesses that complement your services. For years we have seen things like, “Bring your movie stub and receive 15% off a dinner here at Joe’s Pizza.” Same idea. Who can you partner with to create greater perceived value for your customer base? Alliances are a very powerful way to make the most of every dollar. Don’t go it alone.

Are you seeing a thread of commonality through these trends? Yes, the internet. A year or two ago it wasn’t as powerful as it is becoming today for small business owners. There are more tools and affordable opportunities out there. Use them. Be smart. Get yourself educated or have your Chief Internet Marketing and New Technology Officer put together a plan. This is great news and we need to take advantage of it.