Every day it seems like there are a dozen new trends that I “need” to jump on to give my business a competitive edge. The truth is most new trends, aren’t really trends yet. Most are flashes in the pan. And if you jump on the wrong ones (which, since most are the wrong ones) you are stuck spinning your wheels.
The rule of thumb here is to employ patience. Trends are something to watch, not necessarily act on immediately. I reached out to the entrepreneurial community, and they shared the business trends to avoid this year:
1. Avoid Outsourcing Your Social Media
Social media has spawned a plethora of consultants who will handle all your social media needs. This is great provided you already have in place a strategic thinking business plan where you have clearly identified your ideal customers; know your market and have established key metrics. Outsourcing without having both solid marketing and sales plans mean you have hired someone to be Your Captain Wing It and his or her actions may cost you more business than you ever anticipated.
2. Facebook Is The Big Trend To Avoid
It is true that the biggest business trend these days is to “update” your “followers” when in reality Facebook doesn’t help anyone find you unless they already are in your grasp. I believe that everyone in business who spends quality time posting photos and updates on FB thinking these people will buy from them is listening to phony gurus. The fact is, the only people who really care are your employees (and managers) and your friends. Everyone else thinks it’s interesting–maybe–but it’s not going to get anyone to purchase anything unless you are giving it away (and even then it will be suspect).
The best advice is to pull your closest customers even closer. That’s rare advice that is hardly a trend but is still the only way to build a base. One customer telling a friend how great you are–that’s all it takes for a lot of people to literally follow you, and buy.
Thanks to Richard Laermer , RLM Pr
3. Avoid Making Your Own Mobile Apps
With all the hype about consumers using mobile devices for information, I
believe many businesses are being brainwashed into thinking they can’t
compete without creating an ‘App’. This is simply untrue.
A fully mobile responsive website can be more beneficial in many cases by ultimately offering a better experience for the end-user, and higher conversion for the business.
There are many web templates available on the market today that make this task easy for most designers.
4. STOP “Problem, Agitate And Solve” Marketing NOW
To attract those influencing 85% of all buying decisions (women), you’ll want to avoid the copywriting formula “Problem, agitate and solve”. My “Challenge. Solution. Invitation.
” formula as featured in Inc. Magazine is causing women to breathe a collective sigh of relief. This new approach works because marketing is all about relationships and you cannot build solid relationships by focusing on the pain, poking at problems and then trying to be helpful. Full interview http://tinyurl.com/7cm2zhw
5. Avoid The FREE Trend
One of the most common marketing themes is to offer people free stuff. Whether it is a free seminar, free Facebook page, free website or free donuts; the problem is, free is never free. Let me explain. Do you manage how much money you spend? Of course you do! However, do you also mange how much time you allocate for different activities each day? What about how much energy? The problem with the word “free” is it may eliminate a cash payment, but you will still pay a price.
6. Avoid Over Optimizing
Optimized websites, Fan Pages, Google+ Local. We hear digital media is the new frontier where Business is being done. As though merely showing up and being present will somehow bring floods of business.
Emphasis is placed on the infrastructure and [owners] often launch having completely overlooked strategy. They go through the motions, which ends up being counter productive when people are annoyed or don’t find the msg compelling and don’t engage. Tactics without strategy is a trend to avoid!
7. Avoid Trying To Go Viral
As social media platforms continue to mature, we will be seeing more examples of viral videos, viral campaigns, viral _____. But don’t get sucked into it. You can’t architect a viral success.
What you can plan for is an exceptional customer experience. Quintessential solutions to customer problems. And figuring out how to communicate the larger mission of what you do. WHY are you in business? WHO are you really trying to help?
8. Avoid Crowdfunding
The reality is that only 44% of projects on Kickstarter are successfully funded. Further more, over 9,000 of the 44,000+ projects on Kickstarter raised $0 as of January 2, 2013. Crowdfunding requires that you invest the same PR & marketing efforts that you’d need to actually sell a product. So instead of spending time and money promoting your idea for funding, use Ash Maurya’s book “Running Lean” coupled with your own savings to get to the first iteration of a new product available for sale.
9. Avoid National Expansion
Establishing a national presense is overrated. People rarely buy something off the internet unless it’s a trusted and convenient source (such as Amazon) or they have a relationship with the product (such as an ebook that an acquaintance wrote). Spending money on a sleek and sophisticated online store for the world to come flocking into your business or so that your rank on google will increase is rarely worth it, especially if you should be focusing on acquiring business locally.
10. Avoid Mobile Websites
It’s hard enough just putting a fresh look on a company’s main website or blog so, avoid the trend to create mobile websites.
Optimizing your eCommerce site for mobile users is like redesigning your website several times over because you’ll have to accommodate for the many
mobile devices and platforms that are available.
Don’t waste time going mobile too quickly until you see significant traffic from a specific device; then you should optimize for that and try to increase your conversion rate.
11. Avoid The YouTube Craze
The biggest trend that any entrepreneur should avoid is sinking time and budget into producing YouTube videos without having a social media marketing strategy in place. Even the most amazing video is worthless if nobody sees it, and metrics like video views and subscribers don’t translate into new customers without targeting. Video is very effective, but entrepreneurs have to focus on their marketing goals, then determine what role video and social media can reliably play in getting them there.
12. Avoid Daily Deal Sites
The Daily Deal business (ex: Groupon, LivingSocial, etc.) They promise to help customers save money on a wide range of shopping categories. They need to focus on making it a win for the businesses that run deals with them. Most merchants see little to no profit, after offering a large discount on their products and services AND paying the daily deal site. Merchants are sold on the idea of recurring customers, but that is very often not the case. To stay competitive/relevant,they need a new model
13. Don’t Implement QR Codes
QR codes are fun. They are interesting. They are innovative. But not many consumers use them at the moment because most don’t even know how to. While many businesses are adopting QR codes into their advertising and marketing campaigns, it may not help as much as going the conventional and reliable routes like social media and traditional e-mail marketing. The returns on theses businesses’ investments may not be worthwhile if consumers don’t bite on the QR codes.
14. Avoid BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Policies
Contrary to the belief that BYOD policies can make employees more productive, they can’t and it’s actually doesn’t make any sense. Employees with their own, personal devices will more likely be distracted. In addition, what if these devices break down? It could take many weeks before repairs are done. What about the potential data loss? BYOD policies can work to complement the devices that are available at the workplace, but these policies should not be relied on.
15. Avoid Gamification
People love games. We see games throughout PCs, tablets and other gadgets, websites and many others, but is gamification really the way to go? While games are fun, they shouldn’t be “solve-all” business solutions. Take a look at Zynga. They make games for platforms like the iPad, sites like Facebook, and many others. But their value has steadily declined since the beginning of 2012. The gaming concept can complement other sales and marketing strategies, but it should not be the solution.