Why Small Businesses Can – and Should Embrace Technology Trends in 2020

You can either follow a trend or go against it. The choice is yours. The truth is, nonetheless, that if you fall behind, your competitors may overcome you – steal your customers and offer a better service or product. Knowing that being a business owner is a tough job, technology is sometimes considered too hard to implement because it is costly to hire a strategic partner or IT support or time-consuming to learn new tactics yourself. These myths may not apply for your business – today's tools are made to be easy to implement and understood by non-technical individuals.


Technology influences every aspect of your business – IT, finances, logistics, sales, support or marketing. New approaches teach us constantly how to become more efficient at what we do. Saving money or time, increasing the scalability of our businesses or inventing new products and business models is backed by the evolution of technology. On the other hand, not everything that glitters is gold… We've written an article about the difference between trend and hype. Watch carefully what's going on in your industry and what your customers need or require (which is definitely the most important factor of all), but don't jump on every train that goes around. Not everyone will make it to the final station. There is a difference between what influences your business and what doesn't.


We will cover some trends for 2020 below, but before we jump into that, let's speak about the context. In 2018, 50% of the world's population was online. Today in 2019, it's more than 54%. Now, most people have jumped into the information age, where everything is moving at an unbelievable pace. Not only are things (goods and services) changing on a daily basis, but their costs are constantly decreasing. Imagine you bought a 3D printer 12 years ago. 40,000 USD is what you'd have paid. Today, the cheapest 3D printers cost around 100 USD. Yes, your math skills are up to par: 400x less.

Number of Internet Users Around the World
Everything changes. We either accept it and do our best, or die.

The goal of this article is to encourage you to follow the trend and embrace the newest technology in 2020, not to speak about morbid scenarios. 


Going back to where we began: YOU CAN EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY IN 2020, because it is meant to be available for you. When running a local business, you focus on what's really important, right? You don't want to spend time doing things that don't positively affect your bottom line. Being an entrepreneur, there are two key factors to go after:


  1. You want to generate more money with the assets you currently have.
  2. You want to save time and money.


To achieve one or the other, you might try tactics you haven't tried yet. To understand them, let's dive into a few trends to follow in 2020:


Marketing automation

We are bringing you our marketing knowledge, not necessarily the overall business strategy. You know your business best, but we know what saves you time and generates more money when it comes to marketing. Automating routine tasks and delegating the costly work, that you or your agency needs to do, to tools like groost. allows you to manage your online campaign effectively and for a fraction of the price. If you rely on your sales team, CRM systems like Hubspot or Pipedrive strive to help you automate follow up emails or customer retention activities. There is a plethora of tools to use, which we have covered in this article.


"For more than 30% of small businesses is marketing the number one challenge” by Mailchimp

Focus on your customer

We keep repeating this, I know. But it simply is the Holy Grail – always put the customer in the center of your (not only marketing) activities. I can assure you this won't be relevant only in 2020, but will last for decades. The times in which Henry Ford kept saying “You can have any color as long as it's black” is over. In today's era, your customers' desires and preferences are what should keep you awake at night. 


Does this apply to marketing only? Not at all. Imagine you market your product so that hundreds of people are waiting in line to buy from you. Once they approach the cashier they turn back and never come again – unwillingness to serve your customers nicely by one of your employees can be very costly. To give another example, say you run an ecommerce project. Everything from marketing to IT works great, until your logistics crash and the customer does not get what she ordered. Is this something that can badly harm your business? Absolutely! Customers have many touch points when dealing with your business – make sure every one of them is as customer-friendly as possible.

Henry Ford's Famous Statement

Don't rely on your organic reach

Let's stay in the marketing field for now. You probably run your profile on social media. Having 1,000 page likes brings you nothing if you only reach 20% of them. The organic reach is – and will be – decreasing constantly which we covered in our latest article. You will have no other choice, but to create truly engaging content that resonates with your audience and to invest in paid advertising. What you need to focus on is:

  • Keeping your target audience in mind.
  • Calculating the ROI for every campaign you run.


According to the Deloitte Small business technology trends, 80% of small businesses aren't taking full advantage of digital tools. Be the 20% of them.


Work on inbound marketing

There are two main communication strategies: inbound & outbound. Inbound makes the potential customer discover you by the content that you create – be it articles on your website, videos on your Youtube channel or podcasts on Spotify. Outbound is focused on push or disruptive strategies – you reach your potential customers while they scroll on their social media feeds, watch videos on Youtube or read articles. Working on your content brings you long-term results. Educating your audience, providing valuable content (and boosting your inbound marketing) is something you should be focused on throughout not only 2020, but every upcoming year.



We've come across a few basic tips to leverage technology in 2020. As stated, even small businesses can – and should embrace the latest technology (not only in 2020, but beyond).

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Hype vs. Trend – What Really Matters for Your Business?

AI, Chatbots, Blockchain, self-driving cars, cloud-computing... You have probably heard of all of those, right? Do these terms represent trend or a hype? What is the actual difference between those two words? And are they important for you, as an entrepreneur who's just getting started? These are probably the questions that jump to your mind when hearing these buzzwords.


There is a HUGE difference between what stays and what doesn't. In other words, not everything will stick and change our behaviour. This is how we can define our keyword, trend: as a change in the behaviour, habits or ways in which things work. It is a constant change. Let me explain trend in a graph, as I am a visual learner and a numbers freak…

Trend Line
Trend Line

On the contrary, hype is something that simply occurs and fades away… without any lasting impact. If I spoke in graphs, hype would look like this:

Hype Line
Hype Line

When the terms are clarified, let us look at the history and point out some of the trends and hypes we, as humans on this earth, have been through…


  1. 1950 – Year when the first credit card was introduced

Presented by Diner's Club, the very first universal credit card came to use and was accepted by some establishments. Had it been just a hype, no one would be using credit cards today… Non-cash payment instruments play a huge role in our lives today – this trend changed our behaviour for good.


Now, imagine a bank not issuing a credit or debit card after opening an account – a business that did not catch the trend. This bank would for sure not survive in today's world…


  1. 2008 – The word shared economy was loudly spoken for the first time

… and changed the way we travel, transport ourselves and purchase goods. Startups like AirBnB or Uber have shown us there is a new way of ordering a taxi or renting a flat for a few nights. Have classic taxi companies had to react to this change? You bet they have!


You can probably guess where this is heading. There are a plethora of examples of trends that have changed our lives. These are real changes that – if businesses ignored them – could be very harmful... 


  1. Now – Podcasts, home voice assistants and voice orders

Here we go. 2019 and podcasts, home voice assistants, voice search, voice order and – you nailed it – everything that has something to do with voice is slowly changing the way we behave. Is this something you should keep an eye on? I believe so. Is this something that is about to change / threaten / boost your business? That truly depends on your business industry and approach.


On the contrary, hype can calmly be ignored (or shortly leveraged). Do you remember the Bitcoin bubble in late 2017? 


If not, let me briefly explain. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that was invented in January 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto. Its price has been slowly rising since then, and in 2017, one Bitcoin was worth around 20,000 USD. With no real value behind it! In other words, so much money was invested in this currency that the price rose rapidly. An easy economic rule: when the demand rises (while the offer is limited), the price goes up. But what is crucial, is the value behind it. There was no value at all. And in January 2018...BOOM!

Bitcoin Chart (2018)

Identifying hype and trend can be crucial for the survival of your business. But no one really tells you how to get started. Well… saying that there is a manual would mean there is a way to predict the future.


But there are some ways to prepare yourself. As Gartner puts it: “Three key factors will ultimately enable you to identify the potential impact of a particular technology trend on people, business, IT and the technology market:

  1. New value. Identify clear business opportunities that this technology trend could help exploit, or challenges that it could help solve to produce better business outcomes.

  2. Level of digital disruption. Decide whether adopting this trend would mean changing your organization’s business model or inventing a new one. Could this new trend replace existing technologies or ways of doing business? How could this trend disrupt the technology market? Although, there will probably be opportunities for new providers, new trends can disrupt the services and performance of existing providers on which your organization may rely.

  3. Type of impact. Investigate whether the trend’s impact will be felt only within your organization, or whether it will have an external impact on your organization." 


Yes, you have to know your business and industry perfectly in order to answer those questions. If you decide to simply ignore everything that goes around you, you may get kicked out of business soon… But if you learn, build on your knowledge and keep an eye on the current trends & hypes (as you may not recognize them at the beginning), your chances will rise.


Build on your knowledge. Do not pay attention to what does not affect your business, but be aware of something that does…

We at groost.com are leveraging online advertising for small businesses, which has shown to be a strong trend that is here to change many industries. In 2018, for the very first time, 50 % of the world's population was online. Never before has the percentage of people with access to the internet been so high. And guess what… The number is rising. Is this a trend or a hype? You are now able to answer the question for yourself.


Are you up to date with what's on trend for 2019? Check the Gartner's research here: https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/5-trends-appear-on-the-gartner-hype-cycle-for-emerging-technologies-2019

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Find Your Customers Where They Truly Are

A  few months ago, I moved to a new flat. Before that, I had been doing thorough research on what part of the city is the most child-friendly in terms of security, what are the prices and how far the flats are from the public transportation. I took many things into consideration before even getting in touch with an agent.

Did I Google things? Of course! Was I keen on reading research on what parts of the city suit my needs? You bet I was! Did I spend some time scrolling on Pinterest for furniture inspiration? Yes, I did.


I was lucky to meet Josh, a real estate agent who has been in the business for some time. We got in touch after I visited his website and read his article about the prediction of real estate prices, plus went through some interesting content on his LinkedIn profile. 


I was astonished by the speed of his reaction. Within two days, I had 5 flats to choose from. And a few days after that, I went to see them all.


What I did, nonetheless, within those two days, was thorough research – again. This time, I examined Josh's Instagram profile and checked out the other flats he had to offer. I read the reviews on his Google listings and read more educating articles on LinkedIn. I am a social media freak and I probably use all of them. But Josh was always there… Offering me exactly what I was looking for. At the exact time I needed it.


What I just described, was a perfect user experience and great customer-centric approach. Josh knew his business would grow if he invested in these channels. He also knew what content to serve on each of them. And I engaged, liked, followed – was totally sold! – Successfully ended my buying journey – call it whatever you want. Josh won. So did I.


Do I live in one of these aforementioned flats today? I surely do and I am happy with my decision.


Reach your customers wherever they spend their time. This is a golden rule Josh and other successful businesses completely abide by. 


The fact that you are missing out on the chance to speak to your customer or potential customer on any channel can only be leveraged by your competitors… If you don't worship the customer-centric approach, they will.

And by customer-centric I mean going beyond on what YOU want to be doing to what a CUSTOMER wants to do – where she spends time, where she expects to get in touch with your business, where she takes out her wallet and pays for goods or services...

We are not talking solely about social media here. Customers visit your store – interact with you personally, get in touch with someone from support or sales, search for a cheaper substitute on Google or Bing and eventually visit your website. To gain trust, users tend to rely on reviews and customer feedback listed on your social media profiles. One customer – multiple channels. And you'd better be on all of them.


Customer Interact with Multiple Channels
Your Customer Interacting with Multiple Channels



Every touchpoint matters. Everyone builds the complete image of you through your customers' eyes. And everyone determines whether a customer chooses you instead of your competitors.


In 2018, the average time spent daily on social media was 136 minutes. That is more than 2 hours of one's precious time. And more than 2 hours for you to catch their attention with what you have to offer.


What you can count on, is the fact that they will search for products like yours. And if they don't find you, they will buy somewhere else…

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40+ Tools for Creating Visual Content on Social Media

It is well-known that visual content is the basis of success on social networks. It’s easier for users to consume pictures and videos, than text. It’s also more visible in a mess of other content. According to some studies, tweets with pictures receive up to 150% more retweets than plain text posts without pictures. So, it is clear that the importance of visual content is steadily increasing and you definitely shouldn't ignore it.


You don't have to worry, you don't need to hire expensive agencies right away. You don't even have to learn to work with complicated and expensive tools, like Photoshop. Fortunately, today there are plenty of free online and mobile apps available to create visual content in just a few clicks.


In this article we will introduce you to 40+ tools that are available on the internet for free. We use these tools on a daily basis, so we can highly recommend them.

Canva

By far the most famous online tool for creating all kinds of visuals, and not just for social media. Canva allows you to create literally everything you can think of — from nice Facebook covers to Instagram Stories to beautiful Infographics. You can choose from dozens of templates and it all works for web browsers or mobile apps.


Vizzlo

Whether you need a simple pie chart or a complex business graphic, Vizzlo's portfolio offers you a broad range of different visualization choices. It works for browsers and it is easy to use. You can enter your data using the simple sidebar, and then choose to import spreadsheets from Excel or Google Sheets. Add the result to your slides and documents or directly share it on all your social media channels.


Graphicriver

An endless collection of various templates, fonts, logos, flyers and much more. Graphicriver is where you can find ready-made graphic designs for almost any digital content. You don't need to hire an expensive agency and create all visuals and graphics from scratch. It is often enough to modify existing templates. This saves you not only a bunch of time, but also money, because the prices of the templates are very low.


Tip: If you are not familiar with editing graphics, try to outsource it via Fivver.


Landscape

Size matters! At least when it comes to social media. Landscape has hundreds of recommended dimensions, sizes and ratios across different platforms and devices. It is easy to get lost in these constantly changing numbers. So try to use Landscape by Sprout, it helps you resize multiple images for your profiles automatically.

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How to Define The Optimal Budget for Your Marketing Campaign

All small businesses need a good marketing plan to help it reach its targets and aspirations. With every marketing plan comes a marketing budget. You can say they go hand in hand. Creating the optimal marketing budget will ensure you spend the right amount of money in the right places to achieve your marketing goals. Creating a marketing budget used to involve a lot of trial and error which can lead to unnecessary expenses and ineffectiveness. But nowadays with everything becoming easier thanks to the amount of information available on the internet, so is creating the optimal marketing budget, everyone can do it.

Small business owners are finding new ways and techniques to plan out their strategies and design successful marketing budgets. It all comes down to how much are you willing to spend to acquire new customers and increase your brand awareness.

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Do Your Marketing Right in 2020

Marketing is an ever-changing field and the methods that work aren’t usually long term. Are you having a hard time navigating the latest trends and the most efficient ways to optimize your content? Don’t worry, because most people struggle with the exact same thing. Here are 10 up-to-date tips for online marketing.

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5 Tips to Write Outstanding Texts for Your Facebook Post

Most people have been through the struggle and know how you feel or have felt when writing a piece of content for Facebook, “What text am I supposed to put here?”, “Is this gonna work?”, “Is this too informal?”  Writing an engaging post on Facebook – for your business page, as this is what I will be talking about here (not your personal page where you know perfectly who you represent and what tone of voice to use) – can be challenging. You are trying to get the customer's attention, arouse a reaction and avoid ignorance...


How do you write posts that simply can't be ignored? This is what we will explore in the following 5 tips. Keep in mind, that before you write or produce ANY PIECE OF CONTENT, have your targeted audience in mind. What will be appealing to them? What tone of voice should you use? These are some of the questions that you need to answer.


So, let's dive into 5 tips, so that you know how to become your own best-in-class copywriter. Oh, or not yet… I probably did not stress enough how important it is to catch one's attention! So let's take one step back…


The 21st century offers almost unlimited ways to reach out to your desired audience, your potential or current customers. And that's the problem. There are many ways, many advertisers, businesses (like yours) targeting an audience that has its limits. Especially when it comes to attention span. The more stories we tell and the more frequently we are trying to tell them, the less time we have to draw our audience's  attention.     


8 seconds per one piece of content is on average the time span of a person spending time on social media (by the research conducted by Microsoft). In 2000, it was 12 seconds which only shows how rapidly the span decreases. For some of the placements, like Instastories, it is even less – around 3 seconds. That being said, you truly have to catch the eye or remain ignored…


Luckily, I am about to share some tips for you. If you follow them, your chances will increase!


  1. Keep in mind: Your copy is the bridge between the user's desire and your offer

The user's desire. That is your Holy Grail around which your activities should be tied. When you create a copy, make sure to address it. No one is interested in “just another product”. Need or desires to be addressed first, product/ offer comes afterwards…


  1. Bring your audience in (intensify your text)

Don't speak about yourself. With all due respect, no one is interested (unless you own a big and known brand). Bring your audience into your text, speak about them, use words like “you”, use questions to draw the attention, have a dialogue rather than a monologue... 


  1. Attract users' hidden and unspoken values & beliefs

Everyone has them. Values, beliefs and roles we play or want to play in our lives- we rarely speak about them, but have them in mind every time we make a choice when picking your best suit for a date or arriving at a business meeting in your luxury car. Apple is great at attracting our values and beliefs. Is it a piece of hardware, a PC or mobile phone, or rather something else that increases your status in other people's eyes? The answer is clear, I believe… Be Apple. Leverage on these values and beliefs when describing your offer or when designing a catchy headline.


Note: I do not encourage you to be manipulative. If you cannot help your customers with your product, if you truly cannot satisfy their needs and make their desires come true, stop reading this article, please. But if you and your product can help customers, feel free to show it…


  1. Follow a structure

When creating a FB post, there are certain platforms for which you create the copy. Mostly, it is the text above the picture or video, or a headline that occupies the largest place accompanied by a description. There are few models (continue reading) that – if used well – can help you draw the user's attention more effectively. Follow them and…


  1. Test, test, test…

I know. This has been said thousands of times. But how many of you run AB testing every time you create an ad? Do you think thoroughly before creating the second version that is the copy or do you follow the kind of approach: “Oh, I should do a second version… Let me change one word here… and that's it! I will run the AB test now!” 


Testing is the only right tactic to find out what resonates most within your audience. Who does not test, pretends to predict the future or relies on her thoughts…


I promised to present you some models, structures you can follow to create outstanding Facebook posts. Here you go…


But let us first showcase what a Facebook post usually looks like:


Structure of Facebook Post
Structure of a Facebook Post



  1. Question – Answer + Call to Action – Proof

Ask a question in the text section, answer it (by offering your product, service), use call to action in the headline and add a proof that your solution works (testimonials, number of users, …) in the description section. This model works best if your audience already faces the issue you aim to fix or a desire you aim to satisfy. 


  1. Identification – Call to Action – Urgency

Make the reader feel like you are reading her thoughts when reading the text. Make her feel completely identified with what you write there. Use a combination of short stories and metaphors. After she feels like she just read her life's story, make her complete the action in the headline – offer a way out, a way to improve, a way to get what she desires. In the description, use a sense of urgency. There is something called FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) that drives people crazy (make sure to read the article after completing this one). 


  1. Come up with yours (tomorrow)

Try to invent your method of approaching your audience in a way that simply cannot be ignored! There are many approaches that can be followed. Go out with your copy, test it and let me know on my LinkedIn profile what worked for you! 

Note: The structure text, headline and description applies for posts that contain a link. If you share a picture, text is the only editable section. Similar rules apply in that case.

Here are some of the posts that were created in a really smart way:

Example of Facebook Posts
Example of Great Facebook Posts

After your post has been published, make sure to check the results! This may seem like a no-brainer, but not everyone is checking how well the content performs. Do not be one of them. Measure and build on what works. Facebook allows you to see the engagement rate (percentage of people who interacted with your posts divided by the number of people reached) in the Insights tab. The higher the engagement rate, the better your post has resonated within your fan base.

Facebook Insights
Facebook Insights

Final touches:

You have been given very concrete instructions on how to write an outstanding Facebook post. Keep in mind this is a lot about testing and finding what works for your business. There are, nonetheless, some rules that haven't been mentioned yet:

  • Keep your text short – no one will read long stories.
  • If you want people to complete an action, guide them: use a call to action.


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