3 Sales & Marketing Predictions for 2014: Marketing Intelligence, Online Commerce & Simpler Tools

15 January

Our series on sales and marketing predictions concludes with a ton of great advice for small businesses. As you read these, think about what you can do to get ahead of the curve on these trends so 2014 can be a great year for you. Be sure to read the last two sets of predictions here and here!

In this piece, you'll read perspectives from Laurie McCabe, David Raab, Aaron Stead, Ginger Conlon, Greg Head, Rieva Lesonsky, Rebecca Sprynczynatyk and Jeff Mask. Phew! Let's dig in!

1. Marketing Intelligence Replaces Gut Instinct

When the village store in “Little House on the Prairie” was low on flour, candy or nails, the owner would just buy more. The proprietors did their best to know all their customers and be friendly. Today, that’s not enough. Smart marketers must use their marketing analytics to have a better understanding of their customer’s needs.

We’ve put together a virtual four-person round table to opine on analytics:

Laurie McCabe, Technology Analyst with SMB Group, says that small business owners need to prepare for the “insight economy.” There must be less focus on speeds and feeds and more focus on better insights and decision-making.

David Raab, Principal, Raab Associates, said that marketers will be able to increasingly deliver the best message to each customer during each interaction in every channel where a customer can be recognized.

Aaron Stead, Vice President of Sales at Infusionsoft calls out the trend to lean on intelligence versus gut, “quieting the noise and making sense of all the data.” That is, small businesses will be on the hunt for more answers instead of simply data points. With context and answers in hand, the better position they’ll be to make informed decisions.

Ginger Conlon, Editor-in-Chief, DM News, feels that the only way that marketers (digital or otherwise) will ensure 2014 is a boom and not a bust for their business is to ensure that the massive amounts and frequency of data is used to enable them to act “swiftly and profitably.”

2. Online Marketing and Sales Will Dominate

You know that social media, websites and blogging are important. But, do you know just how important it is?

For many consumers, the buying process starts online, says, Greg Head, CMO, Infusionsoft. In fact, he feels that if you aren't present and active online throughout the entire marketing and sales process, you aren't going to reach most of the market.

Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media, said that you must develop a content marketing strategy and use articles videos, blogs, slide shows and infographics to educate and engage your customers and potential customers.

Rebecca Sprynczynatyk, Senior Director of Communications at Infusionsoft says that your content should be used as a vehicle for establishing authentic conversations with customers. Beyond, asking for the sale, you want to use each Tweet, video and blog post as an opportunity to engage your customers. The more customers engage with you, the more they’ll want to buy from you.

3. Easier Digital Marketing Tools

Many professionals find that sales and marketing tools are still too complicated and not easy enough to use. Even a “simple” tool like Twitter can be daunting for some. Jeff Mask, Vice President of Business Development, Infusionsoft said, “2014 will be the year of easy for sales and marketing tools.” Marketing consultants, techies and programmers will always be in need. Do-it-yourself (DIY) website services have cropped up, enabling anyone to create their own online presence. Similarly, more and more DIY marketing services will be developed and current platforms will become easier to use.

What are you doing this year?

Now that 2014 is here, what are you going to do to ensure your business blossoms this year? If you’re waiting around for customers to knock on your door, your business will be the same as it was in 2013. Be proactive, strategic and smart about your marketing and measure the results with analytics.

While your competitors are doing “business as usual,” you’ll raise the bar on your sales and marketing and see your business grow even more.

Ramon Ray
Ramon Ray is Marketing and Technology Evangelist of SmallBizTechnology.com and Infusionsoft. He is passionate about helping small businesses grow their businesses by educating them about technology and marketing best practices. He is a journalist, freelance writer, event producer (including Small Biz Big Things with Seth Godin), speaker (including the Computer Electronics Show with Guy Kawasaki), emcee (including Association for Enterprise Opportunity Awards with Daymond John of FUBU and Shark Tank) and author. His third book is Amazon.com best seller “Facebook Guide to Small Business Marketing”, (Wiley, Winter 2013). Ramon is not just an ivory tower geek, but as a former technology consultant has hands on experience in a variety of technologies including social media, mobile computing, computer networks, online software and more. Ramon’s expertise is technology, marketing and sales (personal branding, networking, business growth). Over his extensive career Ramon has written thousands of articles, spoken to thousands of business owners and impacted hundreds of thousands of small businesses to help their businesses thrive, using technology.

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