Want to give your business a competitive edge this year and ensure your products, services, innovations and messages are on market?
One of the best ways to get in front of the pack, attract new leads and build loyalty with existing customers is to identify needs and trends before or as they are coming.
But how do you predict these changes when there is no crystal ball in business? Here are five sources to watch and utilise.
1. Industry News
One of the first steps in identifying trends is to know your industry intimately.
Subscribe to industry association newsletters, journals and magazines, set Google alerts for keywords you want to watch, sign up for reports and statistics, do industry surveys (this will give you insight into what information they want to gather) and watch what others are doing in your industry.
Also read books and blogs (don’t neglect the comments area), attend seminars, visit trade shows and research new techniques, methods and offerings.
2. Identify key influencers
Do you have any key influencers in your industry? They could be a pioneer from within, or an outside influencer, someone who is not directly in your industry but often leads the way in purchase decisions like a celebrity, blogger, reviewer, commentator or sometimes even family member of your potential customer.
If your customers are looking to them to tell them what and where they should buy, you should be looking at uncovering how you can influence the influencer.
3. Get in the mind of your customer
Your customers will always be your greatest source of information and their opinion is the one that counts the most given they are the ones paying you!
With this in mind do up a survey to ask your customers about what they need and want from your products, services and industry. What frustrations aren’t being met? What ideas do they have for new innovations and offerings? Has their product or service requirements changed as a result of business growth or lifestyle changes? Extract as much information as you can to ensure you are meeting the markets demands.
4. Social media
Anywhere a lot of your potential customers gather and talk can offer great information on new trends, needs and opportunities. This is why social media is so great, it can give you a lot of feedback and sometimes brutally honest insight into what your customers want, or find interesting.
Be sure to follow relevant pages and groups, ask questions, do polls, share different information to see what sticks and monitor what goes viral in your industry.
5. Web Resources
Now to you, how do you identify trends in your industry?
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