Looking ahead to the 2017 business year

Keeping up with trends will boost your competitive advantage

There’s so much competition among small businesses in the U.S. that it’s essential for business owners to remain up to date with what’s happening in their industry, so that they can maintain and improve their competitive advantage, as well as boosting their brand in the marketplace.

Standing out from the competition should be a priority for all small business owners. Those that rest on their laurels will face a decline in profits come 2017.

Mobile technology

It would be foolish to ignore the fact that everyone uses a smartphone these days, for browsing the internet just as often as making calls or sending texts. So it’s vital that your business website is optimized for mobile technology and that you have a mobile-centric strategy in place

Mobile payments

Just as people are using their smartphones to browse the internet, so they are using them increasingly as wallets. It’s especially important for service-based businesses to offer a mobile option payment.

Talk to us about what you want to be able to do in the mobile environment. For example, you may be aiming to:

  • Streamline your invoicing processes and encourage your customers to pay you electronically.
  • Receive payments faster.
  • Pay bills quicker.

Comerica’s Mobile Banking solutions will help you stay on top of your finances. We’ve got an app that will help customize your lifestyle, by choosing how and when you want to bank.

Up-to-date payment options

The more payment solutions you can offer your customers, the faster you’ll get paid and the more cash you’ll have in the business. Your cash flow will suffer if you’re not offering the latest technology.

Comerica has a range of small business banking solutions that will ensure you’re offering your customers up-to-date payment options.

Social media

if your business doesn’t have a social media presence, it’ll just be overlooked by potential customers in 2017, as social media continues its rise in the digital business world. Social media’s a vital component for driving traffic to your business website.

Not only will your business benefit from increased exposure and a boost in sales, but you can also make use of social media to gain insight into your marketplace, your customers and your competitors.

When you consider that Facebook alone has over 1 billion users, and people are tweeting over 400 million times each day, it’s pretty obvious that social media should be part of any marketing mix.

Data-driven marketing

Setting up a professional sales system and customer database is essential. In terms of 2017 small-business trends, data is a big one. For small business marketers, data is a great way to remain competitive as it can be used to personalize product offerings, discover untapped areas of opportunity, identify critical consumer touchpoints, improve customer support, and more.

A sales system that suits your business

Introducing an efficient sales system into your business is an effective way to gain more control over the way you sell your products or services.

For example, a system that works well can streamline your ordering procedure and recording of accounts, save you time, prevent errors from being repeated, and improve your customer service.

By discussing with your staff and recording how your sales system will work to generate more cash flow, you can make sure that:

  • Problem areas are identified and solutions are raised.
  • Your employees will know what the best practice is to follow.
  • The system will be well thought through and logical.

Setting up a sales system that has been well thought out (and tested to see if it works without issues) will help your business deliver a consistent standard of goods or services to your customers. This, in turn, will help to generate cash flow.

The power of good data

The right accounting software solution will give you a whole range of data that can be used to identify trends such as seasonal fluctuations and items frequently bought together, therefore helping you plan marketing promotions.

Your software will also help you to break this information down into profiles, allowing you to isolate different groups of customers with different buying habits. For example, a hardware store in cottage country will likely have a cluster of customers who spend a lot of money during the summer months and disappear for the rest of the year, and a second group of locals who buy season-specific purchases in the fall and winter months.

Summary

Successful businesses are those that are always planning ahead. It’s important to keep an eye on the trends in your industry so that you can stay ahead of them, increasing your competitive advantage. This means staying on top of how customers buy these days – namely, they’re using more technology and online options to do so – and ensuring that your business is keeping up with technological advances.

Taking the time now to look ahead to the 2017 business year is what will help your business navigate the inevitable highs and lows.

Next steps

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