2017 is bound to be an exciting year. Here are five business trends that are likely to have the largest effect on your organization:
The Freelance Economy
Forbes recently published an article that referenced a large-scale survey of the growing freelance (or gig) economy. It’s expected the number of U.S. Freelancers will reach 55 million this year, up 1.3 million from last year. Freelancers now make up 35% of U.S. workers.
What does this mean for your business?
One, it probably means you will be working with freelancers in the future. Freelancers can help you extend your offerings for less money than a permanent hire. It also means there’s a good likelihood that talent will continue to leave the traditional corporate setting and your contracted “employees” may be people you’ve never met face-to-face.
Personalization for Everyone
Personalization is an increasing trend in marketing. This isn’t exactly new to 2017, but expectations are on the rise and personalizing your offerings to your audience is less of a trend and more of a must-have. So why am I listing this as a trend? Because businesses will need to embrace this growing customer expectation and the only way to accomplish it so that it scales is through data. If you aren't currently collecting data on customer preferences and activity history, you need to be.
Everyone is looking for a tribe and personalizing your sales approach and customer communications will make people feel like you “get” them.
Value of Content
Content will continue to evolve and most businesses are starting to realize the value of it. This means soon content production will become what a Twitter stream has – lots out there, not all of it valuable. Everyone will be producing e-books, whitepapers, and checklists for download. The playing field will become very crowded as marketing agencies and departments are touting this content as a necessary part of marketing today.
In order to stand out in content, your pieces will need to be well-researched and answer the questions your customers and potential customers have. Written content will take on a much more professional quality. Even short pieces will need to be meaty. Video will become an essential part of your content creation. Which brings us to the next trend…
Video is hot but will become hotter. With opportunities on platforms like Facebook Live and others, you can expect more and more businesses will embrace “teachable moments” and shares on videos. There will be more of a focus on “real” and “transparent” than fully produced, commercial pieces. You can expect a lot of “in the moment” video captures.
It’s a way of drawing your audience in, solving their problems, and being a resource for them. It’s also entertaining and that’s a major part of this trend. People want infotainment. They want to be entertained and they want information. If you can give them both, they’ll be more likely to share and enjoy your pieces. Remember, people want to do business with people they know, like, and trust.
Everyone Gets a Trophy
Business people lament the issues with giving everyone a trophy in children’s sports because of the expectations this sets, but as the oldest wave of Millennials begins to hit their mid-thirties and take on more manager roles, we’ll start to see a kinder, gentler business atmosphere that offers a lot of opportunity for team projects and mentor programs. We can also expect a lot of change in the feedback process. Once a year reviews will fade into obscurity and be replaced with more consistent feedback.
Millennials have a desire for every voice to be heard and this may become a source of frustration on the part of Gen Xers who just want to get the work done.
Getting Prepared to Rock 2017
What can you do to prepare your business for these trends? Decide how they fit into your business goals and strategy. Don’t produce content because this article says it’s important. Instead, look for ways to create things that will be helpful to your audience and be aligned with your business goals. While none of these are “flash in the pan” trends, it’s important to embrace them in a way that works for your business and audience.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect to their audience through content for higher conversions and greater loyalty. Her articles have appeared in Associations North (formerly Midwest Society of Association Executives’) Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.
Christina’s an introvert who loves presenting and working with groups to help improve their storytelling and content marketing, yet she feels incredibly awkward at cocktail parties.