1) What might be some challenges small businesses might face in 2014 and how can they deal with them?

All business strive to reach out to the right customers, get their message across and in turn get these customers into the door. These happen in multitude of ways and given the recent seismic changes and shifts in ways social media is playing will have a huge impact. We are seeing new social media avenues popping left, right and center, some social media becoming fads (for example Facebook itself showed that it is loosing the younger generation crowd to other social media outlets) and new ones coming into the picture – SnapChat etc. How to keep up with this fast pace of changes, reach out to the customers and get their attention. Given the limited budget small businesses have, it would be a great challenge to see these opportunities/challenges exploited well. For example is your business ready for Google Glass, Samsung Wearables etc. The best way to keep up with these changes is to first understand your product/service, who your customers are for this product/service and how your target customers are changing, their behavioral patterns. Identify couple of the changes and harness them to the fullest extent – do not do a catch all approach but rather a surgical precision approach that would help your businesses with the limited budget you have.

2) What could be some unique marketing opportunities for small businesses in 2014?

In 2013 “selfie” is the Oxford Dictionary’s word of 2013 – this word was not existent and have all of a sudden have become hugely popular. We are seeing social media outlets like Instagram, Pinterest, SnapChat are becoming popular because of the fact that we as human race are becoming more narcissist or self centric and instantly gratified. Not sure whether this is the right way or not but we see that we are moving in this direction with technological advances like big data. So personalization would be a huge issue and mobile is playing a huge play in this role. So small businesses can now understand who their customer is, how unique each one of them are and what he/she needs at a given point of time. Customers do not mind sharing data provided they are getting what they want at the right time in a right format at a right price (despite all the NSA hoopla still people do not mind sharing data). So small businesses should come up with marketing messages/tools that would enable them to come up with personalized offerings and we see apps/platforms being built in that direction

3) Any new technologies that small businesses can use in 2014 to help market their businesses?

Near field communication is going to be a realty and technology – hardware + software will be going to assist in personalization. For example there seems to be lot of interest in Arduino projects as this would help come up with coming up with the right marketing messages for each individual based on users’ preferences. For example we at mKonnekt we are working with a local grocery chain to come up with a loyalty card that would offer coupons within a store based on the location of the user, based on their current and prior purchases and which can be redeemed immediately (instant gratification). Another technology area to look for is wearables like Google Glass, Samsung/Apple watch which would again help is personalization based on users’ preferences by delivering usable content at the right time in a right fashion