If we cast our minds back 10 years, when we were all dealing with the fallout of the global banking crisis still, it hardly feels as if there is any more certainty in the economic outlook going forward than there was back then!

But as this is traditionally the season of optimism and looking forward to new beginnings, we won’t dwell on that. Instead, let’s focus on something positive to put us in the right frame of mind to attack 2020 with a new purpose. If you’re wondering what you can do to give your business a little pick-me-up come the new year, here are a couple of fascinating emerging marketing trends that may help to give your brand a boost.

Conversational marketing

If you already have a smart speaker in your home – one of those AI-powered Amazon Echo or Google Home gadgets – then the chances are you have already used it to make a purchase. Six out of 10 smart speaker owners in the UK say they have used their ‘voice assistant’ to shop, which is creating a lot of excitement that we are seeing the emergence of a brand new marketing and retail channel.

‘Voice commerce’ could well end up being the new mobile – a decade ago, not long after smartphones had arrived on the scene, everyone was wondering about how to make their websites function properly on a smaller screen, and then whether they should take the plunge with building an app. Similarly, as voice commerce grows, the first ‘conversational marketing’ step businesses will have to take is optimising their web content for voice rather than text search. It is forecast that, in 2020, half of all searches will come from voice –  that’s a huge disruption to the norms of ‘Googling’ for what you’re looking for.

Longer term, perhaps the most exciting development will be in brands and businesses creating their own AI ‘bots’ through which they can interact with their customers.

Influencers

We are living in a world where, largely thanks to the impact of social media, personal brands are coming to have a considerable impact on the world of commerce. From figures like the Kardashians who have built billion-dollar enterprises out of their celebrity status to the Generation Z YouTube stars who are commanding massive followings amongst the under 25s, brands are falling over themselves to get endorsed by these high-profile figures and are spending mega sums for the privilege. It’s known as influencer marketing and is now estimated to be a $10bn industry.

Influencer marketing has in many ways become the new mainstream media advertising – the deeper your pockets, the bigger the endorsement you can buy, so the greater the impact you get. But there are some ways even the smallest businesses can take advantage of the influencer craze. One is to really start working your social media followers, customer lists and industry contacts and make the most of positive reviews, kind comments and engaging partner stories. Re-posting good feedback from a particularly active client with lots of followers can do wonders for your brand profile and is something that can be nurtured through carefully targeted loyalty schemes and special offers.

Another option is to start investing in your own personal brand. Whether it’s Amazon’s Jeff Bezos or Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, the public love to know the personalities and the stories behind the brand, so start promoting your own. A well-respected blog and an active presence on Twitter is a good place to start. And if you are successful enough in building your own personal brand, who knows – maybe one day people will be approaching you offering to pay for your endorsement.