New trends appear on the landscape nearly every day. While some trends are a blip in memory, others can change the way we function across the globe. Consider Apple’s innovations with the iPhone and how this tech company changed how we communicate, interact socially, receive information, and so much more.
Of course, not all of us are Apple Computers. Most of us don’t have research and development teams who are creating trends and developing solutions that influence entire populations of people. That’s why small business owners and entrepreneurs in particular need to constantly keep a pulse on what’s happening within our industries, so we know how to better serve customers.
How do we do that? And what does that look like for you as a business owner? My advice is to be on the constant look-out for what’s changing, and then use it to improve your business. Here’s how to make it happen.
Find the trends to follow
Finding the trends to follow may sound like a challenge, but there are a few key things you can do to boost your insights.
· Consume information non-stop. Stay on top of news within your industry, your local market, and the world by reading everything that applies to your business and the business world in general. Read your local and national newspapers. Find industry-specific blogs to follow. Consume the Business Journal in your region. Read industry trade publications and websites. And follow thoughts leaders on social media.
· Explore what competitors are doing. Watch what your competitors are doing by keeping an eye out at trade shows, in advertising, in trade publications, by following them on social media, and more. Being aware can identify any innovations they’ve developed and to see how you can improve within your own business.
· Listen to social media. Social listening can help you stay on top of trends and learn what your customers are saying about you and your competitors. It may help you identify unexpected issues or ideas for your business as well.
· Attend conferences. Conferences can help inspire you while also increasing your knowledge about the challenges within your industry. They’re also designed to showcase innovations and connect you with other professionals who may have similar needs to yours.
· Follow your industry’s associations. Associations are great at helping you network and for providing you with access to industry insights and knowledge that can help you identify the trends you need to understand. They’re also great for networking and connecting with experts who can give you even more understanding of trends and information.
· Use data to your advantage. Use the data you’re collecting to understand the patterns of your customers and to better understand their behaviors so you can supply them with the information they need in a clearer, more concise way.
Use those trends to improve your customers’ experiences
Once you know what trends will move your company in the right direction. Think about the following ways you may be able to make trends work for your business.
· Develop a new product or system. Once you’ve found a trend that makes sense in your industry, it may help you find a smart innovation that you can offer. Whether it’s developing a product like the iPhone, a solution like the Ring Video Doorbell, or an app that streamlines how people engage with your business, discovering a trend your customers want but don’t currently have is where the ideas can begin.
· Streamline and optimize the buyer’s journey. When you have a better understanding of how your customers are driven as they interact with your business, you can provide the type of journey that is compelling to them. Using the trends you uncover, you can provide them with the right type of content that turns them into brand loyalists.
· Remind customers of your value. Whether you’re looking to stay top of mind or find a new way to connect, trends can help you see where you can speak up or show up for your customers. It can go a long way in boosting your credibility with customers in a way that is real, authentic, and memorable.
The final takeaway
While some trends come and go, having a deep understanding of how they can influence your business and the decisions you make can be critical to your success. And the more you become accustomed to seeing what sticks in the market, the more you’ll be able to forecast the future of your company.
Jim Allen is a business leader and entrepreneur who has built one of the top-producing real estate groups in the Triangle. He is President of The Jim Allen Group, which is consistently named one of the top real estate teams in North Carolina and even North America.