As a small business owner or manager, maintaining an awareness of the state of the business world is essential. Knowing what other businesses are doing will help you create plans and strategies to grow your small business in the current professional landscape.
In this post, we will cover some of the most popular trends for small businesses in 2022. We will take a look at trends for marketing and growth, in addition to some trends related to employment and labor.
Table of Contents
Running a successful business and building a well-known brand often requires forging your own path and swimming against the current. However, there is also a lot of value to be gained from following trends to keep your brand relevant.
As consumer behavior shifts and service and goods providers adapt, it is important for businesses to move with these waves of change and stay with the times.
Consider Netflix and Blockbuster. Both started as movie rental companies, but only one survived the continued digitalization of media consumption. Netflix ventured into online video streaming to continue to serve the same audience, and because of this, it remains a relevant household name. Blockbuster, on the other hand, resisted the change and ultimately went out of business.
The Netflix/Blockbuster situation is the perfect example of why small businesses need to remain attentive to the various trends in their industry and business in general. The ability to pivot and adjust with the trends will help you sustain and grow your business for years to come.
Since marketing is so heavily reliant on customer preference and behavior, it is important to stay on top of the most recent marketing trends. Even if a specific trend does not currently feel relevant to your business, it is a good idea to be aware of it for potential future changes.
With this in mind, here are a few marketing trends that small businesses should pay attention to in 2022.
Digital technologies are becoming increasingly important in our lives, so it comes as no surprise that digital marketing has grown in relevance over the past several years.
Digital marketing is any marketing strategy carried out via digital channels and encompasses both content marketing and paid advertising.1
One popular form of digital marketing is social media marketing. With social media marketing, brands create content or run ads to build their following across various platforms. Some of the top social media platforms for small businesses include Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Some other forms of digital marketing include:
The beauty of digital marketing is that it is affordable, scalable, and accessible. Additionally, there is a huge variety of avenues within digital marketing, meaning that small businesses can showcase their brands’ uniqueness and creativity in their own way.
E-commerce marketplaces are incredibly valuable for successful online selling. This is particularly true for B2B e-commerce, which typically deals with large-volume sales.
The main value of e-commerce marketplaces is that they connect small businesses with more buyers. Moreover, since many of these marketplaces have a built-in search engine, any prospective buyers directed to your storefront will most likely be warm leads.
Dropshipping is another popular e-commerce business type. Some e-commerce marketplaces support dropshipping within their own systems, while others require dedicated software integrations for inventory management.
Alibaba.com, for example, has a variety of special dropshipping tools that allow dropshippers to integrate their B2C storefronts. This allows dropshippers to add items from Alibaba.com’s fulfillment partners at only the click of a button.
The growth of e-commerce has called for greater digitalization in all facets of the buying and selling processes.
In addition to simply having an online storefront, it is now a good idea for small business owners to optimize their storefronts and websites for mobile use. Budget allowing, creating an app is another great way to further support your customers’ online experience.
Streamlining the payment process is also key. Consider accepting digital payment options, such as PayPal or Apple Pay, to facilitate a fast and secure checkout for your buyers.
The trend towards e-commerce and greater online accessibility is also ideal for those businesses looking to break into international trade. When business is conducted online, there are fewer limitations for both buyers and sellers. The use of innovative online communication management tools means that physical distance, language barriers, and cultural barriers become significantly less challenging.
Identifying and understanding your target market has never been more important than today. Marketing channels in many industries are noisy, so knowing who you need to serve and honing in on that audience is absolutely key.
If you haven’t already, take some time to define your target audience.2 A good exercise for this is to define your brand and who you serve. During this exercise, be sure to also identify what your brand is not.
From here, create an ideal customer avatar to give you a better idea of what your ideal buyer looks like. Think about why your ideal buyer is motivated to buy your product. What solution does your product offer?
Take it a step further and address some more specifics about your ideal buyers, including:
If you’re a B2B seller, map out the company equivalents to these factors, such as company location, company size, annual revenue, and so forth. B2B transactions are still made between people, however, so human factors can still be relevant.
Social consciousness is on the rise, with more people becoming educated on social injustices and inequalities among minority groups.
With this has come a rise of consumer interest in brands that stand beside marginalized groups affected by inequality, and those that do their best to uplift minority voices. There is also an appreciation for businesses that give back to the community by partnering with charities and donating to charitable causes.3
Alongside this social consciousness has come an increasing awareness on environmental issues. To cater to this, brands should prioritize sustainability, create eco-friendly products, and use eco-friendly packaging.
Labor and human capital are among the most important aspects of running a business. Your ideas and strategies may be your business’ guiding force, but your employees are the ones that make it happen.
The culture around employment is also shifting as many people recognize that they want more from their working experience.4 Here are a few employment and labor trends that small businesses must keep in mind if they want to build and maintain a well-oiled machine of a team.
In recent years, the collective consciousness has begun to focus on the importance of a work/life balance.5 People are realizing that there is more to life than working your days away. As an employer, it is important to be mindful that your employees have lives outside of the office.
One way to ensure work/life balance for your employees is by setting definitive working hours. While the occasional evening or weekend in the office might be necessary, don’t make extra long hours a regular occurrence
If your employees are overworked, allocate the funds to hire additional personnel to support them in their roles. If budget is an issue, figure out ways to streamline or automate practices in order to save time.
In the modern age, the demand for justice and equality in the workplace has spread like wildfire. To answer these calls, reforms in the workplace are clearly necessary.
In the past, toxic or abrasive work environments may have been accepted, with corruption allowed to run rampant. These negative work experiences can have a bad effect on employees. However, with the resources available on the Internet, many people have now come to realize what is and what is not acceptable in the workplace.
In order to maintain a healthy and hospitable work environment, small businesses should lay the groundwork to ensure respect for their employees in all roles. There should be a system of checks and balances in place, ensuring that power does not corrupt the leaders of the company. It is also essential to create space for employees’ voices to be heard, so as to prevent the work environment from becoming inhospitable.
In addition to a hospitable work environment and a reasonable work/life balance, competitive benefits packages are a great way to attract quality employees.
Some benefits that you could offer include:
Of course, it is important to consider what your small business can afford, but it is important to treat your employees right so that they know they’re valued.
Many businesses realized that they can operate effectively with remote teams during the pandemic. Peer-to-peer video communication and other digital tools have made it possible to facilitate teamwork and collaboration between workers all over the world.
With some normality being restored, many businesses are still allowing team members to work remotely should they prefer to do so. The reason for this is that remote work comes with a slew of benefits for both employers and employees.
Employers with fully remote teams save a significant amount of money on the costs associated with renting or owning an office building. Additionally, by not having an office, companies can avoid buying and maintaining all the required equipment and furniture that goes into this sort of space.
Remote work also eliminates the need to travel to and from the office. A 30-minute commute may seem insignificant, but this adds up to 5 hours of travel time each week and over 250 hours of travel time each year. That’s more than 5 full-time working weeks.
Remote work also gives employees flexibility with their free time. For example, employees who work in an office are limited on what they can do with their lunch hour or other breaks throughout the day. However, employees who work from home can tackle small chores during breaks, thereby allowing them more time to relax once they’re done with work.
An unfortunate aspect of remote work is the loss of workplace comradery and teambuilding. During the pandemic, some businesses hosted virtual happy hours and other gatherings to bring their teams together when they had to remain physically distant.
Now that many parts of the world are opening back up for travel and in-person interactions, companies with remote teams might consider bringing their teams together for retreats or leadership workshops. This could help rekindle those bonds lost through remote working.
If you are looking to grow your small business, making use of the support offered by a B2B e-commerce marketing place is the way to go. This type of platform is especially valuable for businesses that are looking to expand into cross-border trade.
Alibaba.com is a B2B e-commerce platform that offers a wide variety of tools and services to support small businesses as they grow. These tools include specialized onboarding support, demand forecasting, brandable digital storefronts, and Trade Assurance. Communication management, auto-translations, and automatic currency conversions are also valuable offers from Alibaba.com.
Sign up today to start selling on Alibaba.com.