The state of small business marketing at the end of 2009 is different from where it was at the beginning of the year.
Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, and the iPhone App Store have become more important tools for many companies.
At the OPEN Forum, marketing consultant John Jantsch discusses some of the ways these tools influenced business this year and predicts which trends will shape small business marketing in 2010:
Location as plumbing
Imagine standing on a hill overlooking the downtown skyline and pointing the camera on your phone in any direction and getting a full tour of what you are looking at, including restaurant recommendations from friends in your favourite social network.
Walk into a museum, plug in your headphones and point your phone at a painting or sculpture. Then, read about it while a video interview from an expert on the artist loads.
Augmented reality and location aware services have been around for a while. Now that Facebook and Twitter are starting to play with geo-location for tweets and update, enabled by the GPS technology on most every new phone, look out, it’s going to tip.
Location sharing services like Foursquare, Loopt and Google Latitude, are already receiving mainstream media mention. It won’t be long before every rating and review site, such as Yelp! and Insider Pages, build this into the foundation and push coupons and discounts out to you based on location.
Anywhere you go you will be able to locate friends nearby or the location of every Twitter follower in a city you are visiting.
Your location, or that of your customers and prospects, will become another data point in the marketing mix.
Kitchen sink on the cloud
Will desktop applications and computing become a thing of the past? While not completely, 2010 looks like the year that small businesses will truly embrace applications that exist online only.
Entire software suites such as Google Apps and Microsoft Office Live will finally allow document, spreadsheet, database, and presentation software to function as Internet applications at greatly reduced costs and ultimate real time collaboration.
Project, task, scheduling and collaboration of all manners have made a dramatic move to the web with tools like CentralDesktop and Backpack, as remote workers and a global supply chain have dictated. Look for these kinds of tools to be routinely used as client service tools that eliminate the need to drive a few blocks to consult.
The sacred cow of the desktop, financial data will finally move online completely as QuickBooks Online. Tools like Freshbooks make it very easy to do bookkeeping online while providing secure access for financial employees and outside accounting resources.
Filtering gets social
Having access to vast amounts of information in real-time and the stores of data from throughout history are both a good thing and a bit of a curse. While we can now find the answer to just about any query, we are pummelled with so much information that we cannot sift through the good and bad and true and false.
Filtering and aggregating information became a valuable skill in the last few years as tools like RSS readers and search alerts allowed us to subscribe to and collect the information we wanted to read most.
I believe in the coming year another layer of filtering will become just as important as search engine optimization. Look to see search results peppered with recommendations from our social contacts.
When you search for the best attorney in town, a good movie or the best place to get some authentic TexMex, not only will you see the organic search results earned through Google’s algorithm, you’ll also see what your friend Jimmy had to say about such things.
Social search has the ability to eclipse the value of traditional SEO efforts. As more and more information is added to your social graph, I believe recommendations from trusted sources in your networks will carry significantly more impact in some cases than the results that reach the top spots in organic search.
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