If you read my article last year on small business marketing trends to prepare for in 2021, then hopefully you were able to capitalize on some of those trends and grow your business this year.
In last years article, I mentioned how the 2020 Pandemic has caused a significant change in the way that companies and their customers do business. Changes that were already underway were accelerated and people were forced to adapt to a new business environment overnight.
Many of those changes are here to stay – at least for a while. Let’s take a look at how 2022 will likely play out for small business marketing trends.
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Product Shapes, Colors, Tones & Texture in 2022
In terms of colors, tones, shapes and textures, things like pastel are in. Consumer product purchases have strongly favored pastel colors, abstract or novel shapes, glass and sheer colors, and marble.
People are loving contrasts such as imperfect product textures and edges against the backdrop of otherwise perfect lines on buildings, rooms, furniture, etc.
A common trend on TikTok is the contrast of pastel colors against darker, more moody gothic colors. The clashes are vibrant and eye-catching.
The most sought-after color in 2021? Emerald Green. And there’s no sign of it slowing down any time soon.
The most sough-after design styles? Geometric. Checkboard, triangles, and scalloped curves are all in. These trends will likely extend well into 2022.
I walked into Dollar General the day after Christmas, and guess what was already on the shelves…? New year and Spring decor. Guess what colors they were…? Pastel. Guess what shelves were already being cleared out by customers…? You guessed it.
If you are in control of these variants of any of the products that you are selling, you may want to play around with the above-mentioned trends to see what sells best for your small business.
Remote work is here to stay
The past two years gave hundreds of millions of people a taste of what it is like to work from home. For many people, they never even considered it a possibility. But it was forced to happen, and companies and employees created solutions to make it work.
Then, remote work thrived. Companies who had never considered it before suddenly realized it works. Not only that it works, but in many cases, it works out incredibly well.
Employees fell in love with not having to deal with traffic, and the work-life balance changes it brought about. Many parents could work remotely and keep their kids at home. That has allowed some people to eliminate that second car note, and maybe even the cost of daycare.
Remote work has changed our world forever in many, many ways. Small towns that were seeing a gradual decline as more and more people moved to the big city for work are now seeing the migration of workers coming back to rural America.
These remote workers are looking for real estate. They’re looking for local businesses to shop at. Restaurants to eat at nearby, and much more. Tax dollars are being driven back into the rural towns that have been financially starved for decades.
Small businesses need to start thinking about what this means for them. It will not be the same for every business, but it will affect more businesses than you may think.
Family comes first, business second
As a direct result of the massive shift to remote work, millions of employees have suddenly realized how much family time they have missed out on over the years. Now that they have it back, they’re not about to give it up.
And the companies who treated their employees poorly over the past two years will be remembered.
And companies who continue to treat their employees like a number will continue to lose their top talent.
Employees have more options now than ever, and companies that move to a people-first workplace will benefit greatly from this rapid transition. They will gain and retain top talent across the country.
Companies that adopt remote-work and family-first policies and cultures will have no problems with recruiting in 2022.
Hybrid workplaces are a happy medium
For companies that still need employees to be physically present, but only one or two days out of the week, a hybrid workplace is a happy medium that will benefit both employees and the company.
It is a good compromise for those employees who want to retain their newfound appreciation for family time. It will allow companies to potentially keep their talent from leaving for a job that allows for a full-remote schedule.
E-Commerce is more popular than ever
A parallel scenario to remote work was the boom of e-commerce. E-commerce was already consistently gaining steam every year, but the past two years sent the e-commerce rocket flying into outer space.
People were already surfing e-commerce stores while at work, but now they’re working remotely AND browsing online, AND many stores are still closed (or they just don’t feel comfortable going) in some areas, so e-commerce is the obvious solution to their problems. Not to mention, they’re home – so when the package is delivered, they don’t have to worry about porch pirates.
While I think that many people will certainly crave an in-person buying experience as the retail store shopping experience returns, there are many things that people started buying online that they’d never purchased online before, and now they are comfortable buying them even after being able to return to a physical retail store.
For example, doing something like buying candles (you can’t smell them online), buying clothes (you can’t try them on), or buying any other product where touching, hearing, or smelling them can enhance the shopping experience was a scary thing to do online.
But once they were forced to buy those things online, and they suddenly realized it wasn’t a bad experience at all – it became second nature for them. And that second nature isn’t going anywhere now. Shopping online is here to stay, even if it does taper off a little bit.
What does this mean for small businesses?
You’ll want to review your online shopping experience. Make sure that your online store is a proper presentation of your brand, your products – and of you. Make sure everything works. Make it easy for people to check out. Identify where your customers hang out online, and get your marketing messages out to them. Consider offering BNPL options (see below).
E-Commerce + Social Proof
Because e-commerce has become so engrained in the lives of pretty much every technologically literate person in the US, social proof has become more important than ever.
What is social proof? Social proof is when someone visits your product page online, and they see reviews from other people. The reviews are “social proof” that other people have purchased your product and they like it.
The same goes for influencers on social media who showcase your products or services. That is also “social proof”. This is a small business marketing trend that will only continue to grow and evolve over time.
While the terms I reference below are typically used to explain the various groups of people who adopt new technology, the same “stages” apply to people who are willing to buy from you and how social proof plays into their purchasing decisions:
You have early adopters who are people who don’t mind being the first to buy something. They don’t necessarily care if there are reviews in yet or not. But early adopters are few and far between and you typically have to spend a good deal of time marketing to get their attention.
The early majority are the people who will buy even though you may only have 1 or 2 reviews. They’re not sure if those are just friends and family leaving reviews or not, but they’re still willing to give you a shot since the “reviews” are positive. They might check your social media to make sure you’re active before making a purchase, and the buying experience needs to be flawless. Any issues, and they’ll likely run for the door.
These customers won’t buy until you’ve got 10+ reviews on your business listing, or product page(s). They want to see that you have a quality product that lots of other people like, and if you don’t have the social proof – you’re not getting their money.
E-Commerce + Human Interaction
According to a report from Sitel Group (among others), customers overwhelmingly prefer human interactions over self-help systems and ai-chat bots.
And other reports and surveys indicate that a large number of online shoppers may not purchase from your website if they do not have a way to talk or chat with an actual human being.
Even if you’re just selling something as simple as key chains on a website – offering something as simple as live chat, or even a phone number that customers can call or text will go a long way towards establishing trust with the customer. And according to the data, you may see sales increase as well.
Just because people were forced to shop online and avoid the physical retail shopping experience for a lengthy period of time, doesn’t mean that people are ready to forgo the human interaction element of shopping entirely.
This is a small business marketing trend that you should not ignore in 2022.
Marketing automation has come a long way
If you haven’t been paying attention, nearly all of the social media platforms have also become e-commerce platforms. The lines between “social media” and “shopping” are no longer blurred. They’re synonymous with each other at this point. Social media is e-commerce.
But managing multiple social media platforms, creating content, scheduling posts, etc, can be incredibly time consuming for any small business owner, but it’s also vitally important to the success of your business.
That’s why tools like Missinglettr are beginning to play such an integral role in putting your social media marketing on auto-pilot. A single tool to create content, schedule posts on multiple platforms and manage your brand across the spectrum of social media sites. I personally use Missinglettr, and it’s been a complete game changer for me.
If you have been avoiding social media for business use, you might want to start paying attention to this small business marketing trend in 2022.
Outdoor markets are more popular than ever
Over the past two years, people were not able to shop indoors for an extended period of time, and the shopping experience was moved online (e-commerce), or outdoors.
Just as people were forced to become familiar with shopping online, many people were also forced to go old-school and shop at outdoor markets. Outdoor farmer markets made a huge comeback in 2020 and 2021, and those gains are here to stay.
Reports have indicated that in 2020 alone, farmer’s markets saw a 35% increase in new customers, and 5 months later, over 31% of those new customers were still shopping at farmers markets.
If you are a local business (small farmer, gardener, handmade home goods, etc), then you might want to hop on this small business marketing trend in 2022. You could potentially grow your business exponentially in 2022 by simply showing up as a vendor at a local farmers market.
BNPL is not going anywhere
Buy Now, Pay Later is a financing tool that allows consumers to buy a product on credit from a lender, and then pay it off over the course of 4, 6, or even 12 scheduled payments.
Companies like Klarna (sign up and get $30), ZIP Pay(get $10 with promo code: H1RQBW) and Affirm (sign up and get $30) are making it easy for customers to put the credit card away when shopping online and just use their BNPL account instead.
You can often qualify for a BNPL spending limit without a credit check which makes it an even more attractive alternative to credit cards which all require credit checks.
It’s a seamless online shopping experience that is convenient, but also affordable considering some of them don’t even charge any interest on your purchase. That makes it an incredibly powerful small business marketing trend –
In my article last year, I said that it was here to stay, and would only grow stronger – and it has. People who are naturally averse to using credit cards are more comfortable using a credit line like BNPL because you can often buy a higher-ticket item with zero interest, and it’s a short-term credit line with scheduled payments.
I’ve personally made several no-interest BNPL purchases over the past two years, and it’s been incredibly convenient.
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The BNPL market is already consolidating, even as new players are entering the field, but one thing is for sure. BNPL is here to stay, and it will continue to offer a convenient alternative to credit cards for many people.
If you are a small to medium business, this is a small business marketing trend that you may want to consider in 2022. You may want to consider offering a BNPL option for your store. If not, you are probably losing potential customers.
Even if your customers don’t typically use it – the fact that you qualified with a BNPL company already adds a level of credibility to your business that you would not have otherwise. It plays a small part in the “social proof” element that we discussed early on in this article – you probably couldn’t qualify for a BNPL option if you were not a legitimate business.
Small Business Marketing Trends in 2022
And that wraps up our projections for small business marketing trends in 2022. Did we miss anything? What are some trends you’ve seen that could play a role in the success of your business in 2022?