Contributing Author: Ravi Kumarr Gupta

A brand new year is just around the corner. For most small businesses, that indicates a new start. Companies are usually rolling out holiday marketing strategies this time of the year, up until January. The end of the year also marks the time to re-strategize and learn from mistakes made in the past months. The coming year will bring new challenges for your small business, don’t doubt that. So how could a small business prepare for 2018? What can companies anticipate with regards to customer preferences and marketing trends? Read below to find out several tips from expert management consultants to kick off 2018 with:

Forget Working Hard and Start Working Smart

As difficult as it may be to fathom for many entrepreneurs, stop working hard. You read that right. Instead, start working smart. According to consultants at the pro-management firm Corporate Business Solutions, among others, the best way to become efficient in the coming year is to adopt a results-driven approach when it comes to employee performance. Unlike in the past where employees were confined to the office for 8 or 9 hours, offer employees flexible hours. Base the evaluation of employee performance on results and contribution, rather than on how hard they work.

This is the radical approach Netflix adopted when the company was losing money not too long ago. Look at Netflix now; it is the biggest content streaming service in the world. More and more companies are looking at this results-driven approach to drive innovation and succeed in highly competitive markets. Perhaps your small business could too.

Invest in Video

According to credible surveys, a vast majority of consumers- as much as 80 percent- in fact, said they watch online videos much more now than a year ago. A whopping 65 percent of consumers say they visited merchant websites after watching a promotional video. Even a large number of executives watch business-related promotional videos during office hours. In 2018, video will undoubtedly dominate. Therefore, your small business should start making investments in video content to enjoy major advantages against competitors in the coming year.

Include Voice-Controlled AI in SEO Strategy

Consumers are no longer just typing in Google searches, they are also speaking Google searches. Thanks to the rise of voice-controlled virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, more consumers are using voice search. While text search is more dominant, companies can anticipate a spike in voice search, as personal gadgets with AI support become more prominent. Learn how to optimize content for voice search now, to avoid being caught off guard in 2018.

Learn about Virtual Reality and How It Could Benefit Your Business

Remember the Pokemon GO craze of 2017? The gaming app only illustrated the tip of the iceberg when it came to the potential of virtual or augmented reality for business. Pokemon GO not only made heady online sales, it also drove massive real-life sales. VR tech is here to stay. In 2018, major tech companies have big plans for VR. Therefore, learn more about VR and how it could help marketing stay up-to-date in the coming year.

These are some of the most obvious trends that will most likely drive success in the coming year. It’s time small businesses got on with the program to drive sales and remain competitive based on the above trends.