Men lived in caves, then discovered how to make fire, boil water, eat whatever wouldn’t harm them, then started building houses, moved to cities and didn’t stop there. Somehow, in between all of that, people understood the concept of doing business: and it evolved constantly. And now, in the middle of 2018, we’re still trying to figure out how to make the most of it. Here’s the truth: yesterday’s ways don’t bring the needed results anymore. What they bring is a couple of customers, too much debt and the feeling of suffocation. So how about we learn what works today?

Marketing has never been so important

I know you read about marketing a lot: it’s not that people don’t have anything else to talk about, but rather they can’t stress the importance of it enough. We’ve moved from offline to online a while ago, so that’s not what I want to talk to you about. We’re learned about social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization and more.

The thing is, some of the rules that at the moment seemed like they’ve been written on rocks were actually written on sand near a shore. Let’s take the example of black hat SEO. There was a time people were able to twist it around and manipulate Google. But that’s long gone now. So what we actually can do is concentrate on great content marketing. You see what I’m saying?

And then there are social media channels, like Facebook, which changes its algorithm from time to time. The only way one can do killer marketing on Facebook is by staying up-to-date on what kind of posts, visuals and content perform well on the platform.

In 2018 it’s not enough to be on social media, you also got to have your online presence with your website: and not just any website, a responsive one. And if once, creating a website was a big deal it’s not anymore. Most businesses turn to website builders and don’t even spend much.

And then there comes the types of marketing that will always stay relevant and effective. One of those is word of mouth marketing: people are always going to talk. If you delight them, they will talk delighted. And if you piss them off they will complain about you for days to almost everyone they know.

Oh, how could I not talk about video marketing? That’s the hottest at the moment and it will only take over the world. But people don’t appreciate all kinds of videos. They need your marketing videos to be high quality and well edited. Go to stand out with those, too. Luckily, there are amazing online video making and editing tools that come to help.

Yesterday’s ways, tomorrow’s results?

This is how I see it: at first businesses made products just the way they wanted and customers bought it. There was never really any customer service, and businesses didn’t care much about what customers wanted. And since it all was very new and there was no or little competition, customers had no other choice.

And then things changed a bit: new brands emerged and started competing against each other. So business owners were forced to add customization and personalization into their businesses, hence started making products just the way customers wanted and needed.

But that changed, too. With the help of marketing we started to understand that we can actually make customers believe that whatever they need and want is the product we make. So now, businesses still make the products they want and “manipulate” their customers into believing they can’t live without it. Take the example of Apple: once we try it, we become loyal customers. And as soon as a new, more advanced product is launched we have no other choice but to have it immediately.

And that is a result of great marketing. Well, that’s also a result of having a strong brand, but let’s save it for some other day.

You’re nothing without technology

Smartphones, smart backpacks, smart watches, and the list only goes on. When we tell our kids we needed to wash our clothes with hands they’ll never believe us. And that’s only the minimum.

The truth is we can’t live without technology anymore: we’re too used to it. And it all made our lives so much easier. And as a business owner you need to understand, that it doesn’t matter what products/services you’re making for your users, you still need to keep up with the advancing technologies and adopt them into your business.

Almost impossible to stand out in the crowd

Competition, that’s what I’m talking about. Every product and every service today has its alternatives and it’s competitors. But it wasn’t like that once. People would come up with something that has never been done before and have the whole share of that market to themselves. Today, we got to be a genius, at least.

But I’m not going to talk about how you can come up with a never-been-seen-before, never-been-thought-of-before product. I’m going to talk about differentiation. It seems like, in 2018 the one thing people not only want but also demand in a brand is authenticity: they want to see the real you, what’s behind the ready made products, who are your employees, etc.

So for now, try to be authentic, don’t hide whatever you think is not for the public eye and try to be friends with your customers.

Staying up to date on business regulations

Now we all know that besides the fun part of designing products, the energizing part of marketing and promoting, and the creative part of content writing, there’s also one not so interesting part in doing business: the regulatory part. And this is not only for 2018: staying up to date on your location’s business regulations is always a big deal.

Whether it’s federal and state licensing, different employment laws or taxes, knowing your rights is very important. Of course you can always hire people and they’ll take care of it all. But history teaches us one thing: trust but verify. And if you don’t really know your rights as a business in your market, an accountant can trick you pretty easily. So take a weekend and shove a bunch of regulatory information into your brain: the perks will be worth it.

2018 brought with itself a bunch of different things for businessman. Now it’s easier to get in touch with your customers thanks to technological advancements, online marketing opportunities and more. It also brought a lot of competitors which made it that might difficult to let your users know you’re the best. Let’s see what happens next.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by +367,690 people.

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