(As originally published in “Business in Vancouver”)
“I go to bed worried that I’m missing out on the important trends that impact my business and that my competitors are gaining ground. I can see the details of my day to day business clearly but beyond that I’m feeling like I have a hard time separating the important stuff from the information fire hose and don’t always have a good sense of the trends shaping my industry!”
Ivan: This is a typical case of “head-in-the-sand myopia.” This condition doesn’t have just one pill… you need an integrated medication program to solve this nearsightedness. I would recommend putting you on this program:
|Monday||www.trendwatching.com – “scans the globe for emerging consumer trends”.|
|Tuesday||www.trendhunter.com – “the most updated, largest collection of cutting edge ideas”. Warning: there is some risqué content here but if you stick to the “safer” business-trends areas, your boss won’t be worried about your Internet surfing.|
|Wednesday||www.marketingcharts.com – daily charts highlighting timely trends.|
|Thursday||www.sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/ – insightful blog posts about emerging trends before you’re likely to see them on the trends websites.|
|Friday||www.whereispuck.com - this is my own home-grown remedy!|
|Saturday||www.springwise.com – your daily fix of entrepreneurial ideas|
If you have a bigger budget, Research.ly is a powerful tool that enables you to simultaneously track a variety of key social media to “find the conversations and influencers that matter to your business” all from the convenience of an easy-to-use dashboard (www.research.ly).
Cyri: The good news is that the medication is mostly free and you can soon be sleeping at night knowing that you can stay on top of important trends without Googling away into the night. I would also recommend you add a bit of Google Alerts to your medication program. Once you are aware of some of the trends from your weekly medication above, just go to www.google.com/alerts and enter the keywords for the trends you want to be updated on. This way, the trend info comes to you instead of you having to even remember to take your daily Web surfing medication.
Google Trends is another popular tool that is simple to use (www.google.com/trends). Just type in the keyword you want to track and you can see a chart showing the trending of that topic over time – how many searches have been done during different quarters and years. It’s a great way to see the global pulse of a particular topic and to see if a trend on the upswing or in decline.
Ivan: Don’t worry if you have “head-in-the-sand” myopia. Being aware of your condition is the main thing… it’s only dangerous if you don’t know you have it! Once you take action with our recommended medication program, you will soon be not only on top of the latest trends, you will be able to start predicting where the trends are heading and can even become a trend influencer yourself. The future is made, not predicted!
Cyri: Use mobile devices to your advantage by signing up to the Twitter feeds of people in your industry that you feel are the leaders and influencers. When you do have a few spare moments to kill… when you’re waiting in line or waiting for a flight… pull out your smart phone and see scan through the incoming tweets. If you do this for even five minutes a day, you will soon find your anxiety levels going down as you feel like you have a clearer view of the big picture.
Future Management of This Condition
Ivan: It’s easy to spend your whole day, keeping track of all the trends and then have no time left over to do your most important work. I recommend you block off 15 to 30 minutes a day for your intelligence gathering.
Cyri: Make sure you don’t rely on presentations from the latest Web and social media gurus to stay on top of trends and guide your strategy. They are mainly focused on what’s popular now… like your company getting a better Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter presence. Just because something is new to you and the speaker positions themselves as an expert doesn’t mean you are getting any real insight. In fact, you probably are better off taking our recommended weekly medication if you want to be on top of what’s really happening. You want to follow Wayne Gretzky’s advice of “skating to where the puck’s going to be, not where it is now” if you want to really be successful!
Another good strategy is to create your own blog and then blog about the trends information you are finding. That way you better reflect and absorb what you are reading and you also can end up with a decent blog where you boost your reputation as being an expert in your field and get a substantial following.
Cost: Free for all the tools mentioned except for research.ly that sells for $99 to $9,999 per year!
Generic Name & Alternative Medicine
Ivan: The generic name is really just marketing research, the same old fashioned research principles apply just with some new tactics and tools. It’s just a lot easier now with the Web and mobile devices!
Cyri: I always recommend you track the trends in your industry personally but if that’s just not feasible, a good alternative is to have someone on staff do that and make sure you regularly meet with them or have a quick call to get updated and don’t be afraid to ask questions about trends or terms you don’t understand.
Precautions / Warnings
Ivan: Most people try these tools and are amazed by the results but after a few weeks, they forget to take their medication and they soon end up back where they started. That’s one of the good things about Google Alerts, the competitive intelligence updates are automatically emailed to you at your desired frequency so you don’t even need to remember to pop your info pills.
Cyri: It’s good to keep close tabs on what is happening in your industry but make sure you don’t try to just copy what other people are doing. You need your own vision. Sometimes, you may even want to intentionally stay “out of the loop” so you don’t end up just following the crowd instead of being an innovator going against the crowd.