December 13, 2017

Economic, Marketing Outlooks See a Rosy 2018 Ahead

by Jay Bemis | Advertising Systems Inc.

As small businesses enter the 2018 calendar year, economic optimism among them is at its highest since the days of the Reagan administration, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reported in November.

The entrance of a new Republican administration in 2017 and its plans for tax reform, which seems to be successfully wiggling its way through Congress before Christmas arrives, have contributed heavily to the optimism.

“As long as Congress and the president follow through on tax reform, 2018 is shaping up to be a great year for small business, workers and the economy,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan as her group unveiled its monthly Index of Small Business Optimism. The most recent report showed a 3.7 percent gain in optimism over what was a near-record October barometer.

“We haven’t seen this kind of optimism in 34 years, and we’ve seen it only once in the 44 years that NFIB has been conducting this research,” Duggan said. “Small business owners are exuberant about the economy, and they are ready to lead the U.S. economy in a period of robust growth.”

As your small business joins the economic exuberance for 2018, consider adding some of that positive time and energy to two other areas that are expected to enjoy steady growth in the new year as well: Content marketing and artificial intelligence.

Content Marketing: Review, Refine and Research

As we’ve reported here earlier, reviewing your content marketing strategy for 2018 and making sure it continues to engage and inspire your audience is a chief goal to tackle as you plan for the new year — your brand, after all, is why that audience is visiting your website and checking out your latest social-media posts in the first place.

Making certain that the content you post continues to attract and convert customers to your brand should always be open to periodic and analytical review.

“Content marketing isn’t going away,” Gary Henderson, the founder and CEO of, recently wrote in a forecast he posted on Forbes.

“You can no longer afford to put off content marketing until next year. In fact, 2018 is the best time to invest in content marketing. As the industry pivots away from branded content aimed at selling (even gently), to content as a vehicle, there are wide-open opportunities for new brands to enter the market and grab the attention of consumers.”

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, Is Now More Than a Buzzword

Artificial intelligence already has emerged as a tool that you can use in your continual content marketing review.

Simply defined, artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence exhibited by machines. It is the ability of computers to understand, quickly, certain characteristics of the natural world and use that comprehensive data to complete tasks that would normally require complex human intellect and lengthy effort.

AI is what already has given rise to the use of chat bots in many companies’ online customer-service efforts. HootSuite recently reported that 85 percent of customer-service interactions will be powered by such bots by 2020 and that Facebook Messenger bots, particularly, already are growing at a rate of 200 percent year over year.

TGI Fridays already has successfully used chat bots to personalize offers in its social-media channels, allowing it to connect brand awareness to customer conversions. Shake Shack, meanwhile, reduced heavy volume on its social-support teams by using bots to answer common questions asked by its online customers. (AI also can help detect which questions are best answered quickly by a bot or which questions may actually be better answered by an actual human being.)

The use of AI also means quicker analytical review of whether your company’s social-media efforts are being correctly targeted at driving customers to your brand, as well as what content may not be achieving that goal. Many marketing-support companies already are using AI as a part of the services they offer their customers.

Here’s to Your Company and Its Success

An optimistic outlook for the economy, continued content-marketing growth and possible boosts from artificial intelligence: All seem worthy mentions, or “shares” if you will, as you and your company raise toasts to a healthy 2018 ahead.

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