5 Trends That Will Shape Small Business in 2010

5 Trends That Will Shape Small Business in 2010

Written by John Jantsch

Posted by Derek Weber

Dec 08, 2009

2009 was a pretty wild year in the world of marketing. While social media was building up steam in previous years, it pretty much went mainstream this past year. In fact, many businesses became fatigued from hearing so much about Twitter, Facebook, and social media in general.

As the hype settled and people began to understand how to use and integrate these new platforms, more change was brewing. The evolution that was social media in 2009 set the table for the realization of some significant trends to bubble up into the world of small business in 2010.

The groundwork for some of these trends has been in place for years, but I think we will see small business owners finally start to embrace the following five significant expansions in the New Year.

1) Real time is big time

At some point in 2010, all search results will consist of real-time information, scores, reviews, tweets and all, right there and up to the minute. We’re addicted to up to the minute connection and we want more. It’s kind of like the Meryl Streep line in Postcards from the Edge, “Instant gratification isn’t fast enough.”

Most everything we do will be instant. Google Wave wants to introduce real-time collaboration.

An iPhone app called Shazam will tell me the name of the song playing on a coffee shop stereo right now. Oh, and I can buy it on iTunes, right now too.

Another, called Red Laser, will tell me where to get an item from a photo. It will also give me the best price available for the item anywhere, right now, from a bar code scan.

2) Location as plumbing

Imagine standing on a hill overlooking the downtown skyline and pointing the camera on your phone in any direction and getting a full tour of what you are looking at, including restaurant recommendations from friends in your favorite social network.

Walk into a museum, plug in your headphones and point your phone at a painting or sculpture. Then, read about it while a video interview from an expert on the artist loads.

Augmented reality and location aware services have been around for a while. Now that Facebook and Twitter are starting to play with geo-location for tweets and update, enabled by the GPS technology on most every new phone, look out, it’s going to tip.

Location sharing services like FoursquareLoopt and Google Latitude, are already receiving mainstream media mention. It won’t be long before every rating and review site, such as Yelp! and Insider Pages, build this into the foundation and push coupons and discounts out to you based on location.

Anywhere you go you will be able to locate friends nearby or the location of every Twitter follower in a city you are visiting.

Your location, or that of your customers and prospects, will become another data point in the marketing mix.

3) Filtering gets social

Having access to vast amounts of information in real-time and the stores of data from throughout history are both a good thing and a bit of a curse. While we can now find the answer to just about any query, we are pummeled with so much information that we cannot sift through the good and bad and true and false.

Filtering and aggregating information became a valuable skill in the last few years as tools like RSS readers and search alerts allowed us to subscribe to and collect the information we wanted to read most.

I believe in the coming year another layer of filtering will become just as important as search engine optimization. Look to see search results peppered with recommendations from our social contacts.

When you search for the best attorney in town, a good movie or the best place to get some authentic TexMex, not only will you see the organic search results earned through Google’s algorithm, you’ll also see what your friend Jimmy had to say about such things.

Social search has the ability to eclipse the value of traditional SEO efforts. As more and more information is added to your social graph, I believe recommendations from trusted sources in your networks will carry significantly more impact in some cases than the results that reach the top spots in organic search.

4) Kitchen sink on the cloud

Will desktop applications and computing become a thing of the past? While not completely, 2010 looks like the year that small businesses will truly embrace applications that exist online only.

Entire software suites such as Google Apps and Microsoft Office Live will finally allow document, spreadsheet, database, and presentation software to function as Internet applications at greatly reduced costs and ultimate real time collaboration.

File sharing and storage, including total file backup from tools likeDropbox and Mozy, will become standard in the small business toolbox.

Project, task, scheduling and collaboration of all manners have made a dramatic move to the web with tools like CentralDesktop and Backpack, as remote workers and a global supply chain have dictated. Look for these kinds of tools to be routinely used as client service tools that eliminate the need to drive a few blocks to consult.

Online meeting tools like GoToMeetingWebEx and even Skype, with video, will continue to allow people to connect in richer ways online.

The sacred cow of the desktop, financial data will finally move online completely as QuickBooks Online. Tools like Freshbooks make it very easy to do bookkeeping online while providing secure access for financial employees and outside accounting resources.

5) Fusion boosts offline

While the entire focus of this article to this point has been about changes online, the mantra for 2010 will be the convergence of online and offline for the greatest leverage.

No matter how wired we get as a society and business, there will always be a need for face to fact trust, building engagement. Now that small businesses have moved more online, the smart play will be to find the best ways to fuse the online and offline activates in ways that make the return on both even greater.

While LinkedIn and Facebook may be great places to find prospects and create awareness, they are not always the best platforms to build relationships deep enough to create a sale.

Using these platforms to create awareness for content that resides on your web site or to drive people to events where they can learn and network in person, will become an essential part of the marketing process.

In addition, using online tools such as Twitter and Biznik to further facilitate existing in person relationships, will become another tool that small businesses will add to their competitive arsenal. Now when a member of your sales team meets a prospect at a Chamber of Commerce function, they may follow them on Twitter and invite them to connect on LinkedIn as a matter of process and as a way to more easily communicate, refer and connect, all apart of the trust building cycle.

Elements of these trends have been brewing for some time and adoption of any trend generally happens over time and almost immeasurably. However, now is the time to analyze the impact these ideas may have on your business this year and into the future.

Image credit: prosto photos

John Jantsch is a marketing and digital technology coach, award winning social media publisher and author of Duct Tape Marketing.

Derek Weber
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