It’s 2017 and things are looking good. Your business is going to do great this year, we can feel it. But there’s something you need to know: 

What’s trending in business this year and how these things can work for you.

Now, we didn’t want to tell you this. You’re not going to like it, but your wily competitors are way ahead of you and they’re using hot trends to rake in lovely, lucrative new business. Business that could and should have been yours.

But wait, before you covertly stalk their premises in disguise, scour their social channels for clues or ask a friend to pose as a phoney customer, in the hope of gaining some new insight, you should read this.

The International Festival for Business team has been keeping our eyes on the big, universal business trends that can be applied to almost any business. We know what you’re thinking: “I don’t have the time…”. We knew you’d say that. So we’re going to make this really snappy.

Here are seven, quick-fire business trends that you should adopt this year, to drive new business your way.



Nordstrom Personal Shopper


Do you like sales calls? Thought so. Sell, sell, sell is so 1970s. Instead, share your company’s knowledge as well, because now it’s all the rage. If you know your product, business or sector inside out, tell people. Help them buy better to build trust. Relationships matter in business so get your experts to give a little back. Shift your company’s mind-set from pushing sales to delivering value.

Want to know more? Listen to the podcast: Tripling Your Bottom line with Integrity Based Sales’ here.

Want an example? Nordstrom and Barneys are both now offering free in store fashion and healthy living advice. Read more here.




Amazon trainers


Big brands are getting so good at using data to really match customer’s needs, it’s scary. Look up ‘retro trainers’ on Amazon, get an email full of them in your inbox the next day. Savvy businesses are getting to know their customers buying habits and are actively helping them to find what they want (whilst, you know, selling stuff). It’s a win-win situation that leads to sharp sales growth. Is your business really using the data it collects? Data-driven marketing is here to stay and Amazon is a prime example.

Want to know more? Read ’10 Elements of Successful Data-Driven Marketing here.





Crowdfunding?! Isn’t that just for student films, video games and tech start-ups? Well no, not anymore. More and more established businesses are using crowdfunding to gauge market interest and validate new product launches. Crowdfunding raised $34.4 billion in 2015 and looks set to surpass venture capital globally this year.

The selling point is simple. Crowdfunding gives companies clear, vocal and valuable insight into a product early in the process from the people who matter the most – customers. Crowdfunding isn’t just for the little guys. Deep-pocketed companies like GE and Hasbro are already launching their latest must-haves, direct on Indiegogo.

Need a greater incentive? You’ve heard of Oculus Rift, the biggest thing in consumer VR. It was brought to us through the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, in 2012. It raised $2.5m and was promptly bought by Facebook in 2014 for $2bn.

Want to know more? Read six of the best crowdfunding websites and a guide to which ones best for you here.




Filming with video


Website copy and blogs are all fine. We like them. But truth be told people tend to skim or skip entire sections, depending on the time they have, mood they're in and whatever else grabs their attention. BUT DO READ THIS. If you want your entire marketing message to be heard, video works best and it’s fast becoming essential. According to last year’s Hubspot Consumer Behaviour Survey, 55% of people consume an entire video compared with just 29% for blogs.

Want to know more? Read Business Know-How’s guide to making great video on the cheap, here.

(GoPro's 'Be a Hero' campaign 33,294,150 views)





We’ve all looked at job descriptions, at some point in our lives, with dismay. (They’re asking for all this and they’re only paying that!?) As demands on companies grow, employers tend to squeeze a few more responsibilities into existing roles than they strictly should.

But many companies today are bucking the trend and hiring specialist experts, people who can perfect one skill instead of trying to be proficient in ten. Entrepreneur.com put it this way: “When you go to the doctor, you want a specific diagnosis that applies solely to you, not one that’s general and ambiguous. It’s the same in business”.

Want to know more. Read ‘The Generalist Bias – Why Specialists Are Undervalued’ here.

(Most specialist job we could think of: Bomb disposal expert)





Just when you get used to social media, it goes and changes everything. Reaching customers, the old fashioned way, by building up an audience over time and sharing updates, no longer cuts it. Those pesky algorithms are increasingly limiting the percentage of your audience that actually sees your content. Videos, GIFs, high impact photos and smiley faces are all clogging up our feeds faster than ever and old school messaging is getting lost in the scrum.

The best way to cut through the clutter is to spend a little cold hard cash. All the major social platforms have evolved their own native ads, promoted posts and paid for updates. All of which see far better returns, than their free counterparts, for relatively small amounts. These ads can be highly targeted, their success is easy to quantify and they cost a mere fraction when compared to the cost of printed media. If you’re not yet putting a budget behind your social media content, 2017 is a good time to start.

Want to know more? Read ‘The Complete Guide to Building Your Blog Audience’ here.





Green is and has always been good. But green and growth are increasingly going hand in hand. Businesses big and small are now keen to embrace the values of sustainability, to stay competitive and secure ethically conscious customers and talent.

But be careful to make a genuine commitment. Falsifying green credentials is also on the rise and consumers want claims that can be substantiated. Insincere policies can tarnish business reputations and even incur hefty penalties. (Yesterday Volkswagen agreed to pay $4.3bn in U.S. civil and criminal fines to settle charges that the company conspired to cheat Diesel emissions tests – ouch!)

Want to know more? Read Entrepreneur’s guide for SME’s on ‘Going Green to Save You Money’ here.

(Ethical and green cosmetics from LUSH)


January is a great time to look at things afresh. It’s a new year, a new start and there’s plenty of new opportunities on the horizon. Pick out one or two from the list above or even try all seven. Be bang on trend in 2017 and enjoy a truly prosperous year.