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Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

There are certain basics in business that are consistent and stand the test of time. These are customer service, value, and business offering viability.

What does change, are the techniques and tools businesses must use to remain competitive. What are the predictions, ideas, and trends to pay attention to in 2018 for a business to be successful?

Technology Trends

Technology drives business innovation. As a business owner, you will need to be sure your company is using the latest hardware and software to run your business in the most effective and efficient manner.

Today and moving forward, businesses will be focusing on the interactions between companies, their customers, professional associations, and partners to increase growth and engagement as fast as possible.

In addition to keeping up technology, companies are going to rely more and more on ways to work together even when they are geographically apart.

Online communities are a great example of where buyers, sellers, professionals, and enthusiasts can collaborate in order to find information necessary for their success.

Rather than having to search online for different aspects of one niche, professionals will be able to learn, get inspired, and share information in one place.

Boat Planet is an example of an online resource where both boat lovers and professionals can go to one online source for all their wants and needs relating to the boating industry.

Market Differentiation

In today’s highly competitive market, it is even more important for you to be able to differentiate yourself from your competitors. What makes you different?

If your business offerings are not different, you need to identify what it is about the way you run your business that makes you stand out.

If you haven’t yet figured out what your unique selling point is, 2018 is a good time to take a thorough analysis of your business and find at least one thing that makes your business stand out. Once you identify it, make sure you do all you can to spotlight in online and in all your marketing endeavors.

Your Workplace

The workplace environment is evolving. Workers today are more and more interested in working remotely rather than having to go to an office daily.

The ability to work from home is a trend that truly benefits both the employees and the businesses. Technology plays into this business model by the use of collaborative cloud technology that allows employees working remotely to interact in real-time with others no matter where they are located.

It is perfectly understandable for employers to request that their employees make themselves available during specific times in order to be able to “attend” meetings, coordinate on projects, or participate in customer conference calls.

Marketing and Customer Service

Marketing initiatives in 2018 should be even more personalized to keep up with the trends and remain competitive.

Email marketing campaigns, images, and calls-to-action will need to focus on more customized high-value personalized messaging.

Personalization will be increasingly more important for online selling. You will want your shopping carts to help customers get past the noise during their purchase process. Make sure your customer’s buying experience is smooth, seamless, and relevant.

Video Advertising

The demand for video has continued to grow exponentially. Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter are becoming increasingly aware of the rise of video as the type of content with a good ROI.

Business owners have to recognize and understand the Facebook versus YouTube race for the #1 spot. Facebook recently released a new format of 6-second video ads in an effort to get to customers more quickly.

While Facebook and YouTube battle over which will ultimately be the largest video-sharing platform, as a business owner, you can continue to use both.

A suggestion is it’s best to not post a link to a YouTube video on a Facebook page. Your video will get more views on Facebook if you upload it directly to your page.

Social Media

Short video stories started with Snapchat where the content is deleted in 24 hours. Because of its success, Facebook chose to give it a try on Instagram with the successful ability to reach a huge audience.

For businesses and brands, this means you need to start connecting with your customers and potential customers with stories. Use these stories to showcase your company’s products, services, and culture.