It takes shrewdness and insight to survive in today's fast-paced, technology-driven market. Businesses need to stay informed of new practices and ideas to keep up with-- or stay ahead of-- the competition. Grow your business in the coming year by staying abreast of these new trends for 2018.
With digital distractions on the rise, attention is at a premium. Customer's inboxes are already overflowing with newsletters, updates, and reminders from other companies. They're inundated with advertisements on web pages and social media. There's so much noise, it's hard to stand out. Instead of spreading your brand far and wide, target your audience and tailor your message to capture their attention and loyalty.
Consider using micro-influencers to reach out to that niche audience for your small business. Micro-influencers focus on a precise segment of the population. The smaller audience comes with a smaller price tag for your business than a more general social media influencer, so you can hone in on your most likely customers for a price you can afford.
After last year's major cyber attacks on companies like Uber, Equifax, and Deloitte, cyber security is a pressing customer concern. Make sure your data and that of your customers are secure. Implement and keep up with the latest safety measures to avoid leaking information that should be confidential.
Stronger Company Culture
Start-ups have revolutionized worker expectations, offering a casual dress code, laid-back atmosphere, and quirky company perks. Their success shows that culture matters. A strong company culture can mean higher productivity, better morale, and increased revenue. This year, take time to define your company culture, values, and norms to attract and retain the best talent.
Be careful that the culture you foster is a healthy one. After 2017's viral #MeToo movement, top venture capitalist firm Bessemer predicts that your business's cultural values will be closely tied to your bottom line. Companies with a toxic culture will tank, while places that offer a diverse and equal opportunity workplace will see success.
New Ways to Pay
Mobile and cashless forms of payment are on the rise. Major quick-service restaurant chain Sweetgreen went cashless last year, and others may soon follow. Going cash-free means transactions take less time and registers can't be robbed. Mobile payments make it easier than ever to implement a no-cash policy. Apple, Google, and Samsung all offer ways to pay via smartphone, and NetFloor USA President Ryan Hullard predicts that more small businesses will accept mobile payments in the coming year to keep up with the trend.
AI on the Rise
Multiple sources predict that artificial intelligence will have a big impact on businesses in the coming year, particularly in sectors such as marketing, healthcare, and IT. AI can provide better insight into analytics, mining larger segments of data for valuable information. Chatbots can provide personalized customer service and support for e-commerce sites. Meanwhile, customers are increasingly turning to voice commands (via AI assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Home) to search for and buy products online. Smart businesses need to know how to harness these new technologies to maintain a competitive edge.
Chances are you'll be hearing a lot about block chains in 2018. Block chain is a technology originally devised for bitcoin, but it offers a number of exciting new applications. Block chain allows digital information to be distributed, but not copied, and allows each user to update information simultaneously. It allows for better distribution of cloud storage and simpler financial transactions. Block chain is also built with strong encryption for better fraud protection. Expect it to be on the rise in the food, retail, and aviation sectors this year.