Small business owners don’t spend the final weeks of the year thinking about what fad diet they’re going to start. Or, whether they’re going to get into yoga, cycling or jogging once the calendar turns over to the new year. Instead, they most likely spend time looking at their end-of-year reports, thinking about what worked and where they can improve in the new year.

That is, they look to make New Year’s resolutions that last longer than a few weeks!

No matter how large or how small they are, one area every business can always improve on is in their marketing efforts. Even iconic brands with some of the most successful marketing campaigns in history (think Apple, Coca-Cola or Starbucks) need to stay on top of the various mediums, trends and consumer attitudes. In short: To stay fresh and relevant, you need to be on top of the latest marketing tools and techniques.

Looking ahead to the new year here are four business marketing trends to watch for in 2018.

1. Video content is vital

A decade ago it would have cost thousands to produce a video with aerial shots, quality audio and crisp picture. Now all you need is a small drone, a mic, a smartphone and some free editing software. As affordable digital video technology continues to improve, and as more businesses produce short videos to deliver their message or communicate with customers, video content will become a must for small, local businesses trying to reach customers online.

2. The new king of social media

With over 800 million accounts, and a new(ish) feature, – Instagram Stories, which has become more popular than Snapchat, – Instagram is the social media site small business owners want to settle down into. One of the reasons for Instagram’s huge popularity is that consumer culture is becoming increasingly visual; as such, many brands and businesses see better engagement on Instagram than other social media platforms.

3. Don’t forget there’s a physical world out there

Digital, digital, digital. It seems like that’s all we’ve been hearing for the past few years: Get online! But so too does every company need to reach out to the “real” world — even digital companies. One way to do this is to sponsor or appear at an event, whether it’s a community softball team, highway cleanup or annual arts fair. Many companies are realizing the importance of having a “live” presence; in fact, 63 percent of marketers intend to invest more in live events in the future.

4. Show purpose

Marketing isn’t just about showing how great a product you have or how clever you are. Consumers these days want to patronize brands that have a larger purpose. Brands that give back or support causes that matter. Ninety-one percent of millennials would switch brands if it meant supporting one that advocated a cause they believed in. And this doesn’t just apply to millennials. Customers in general are becoming more socially aware. You can appeal to this in a number of ways, from using green materials to working with influencers to advertising that you will donate part of your profits to charity.

Make sure to devise a strategy to reach out and open conversations with both loyal and future customers. This is one of the more exciting and challenging parts of owning a business. At Strategic Funding, we work with our partners to come up with the best ways to allocate their resources so they can achieve their goals. and something you should definitely be looking forward to in the new year!