Market trends are heavily influenced by consumer behaviours and interests and the industry is constantly shifting. As a small business owner it is important to constantly keep yourself updated with current trends, not only to stay relevant in the industry but also evolve your business in line with your customers’ needs.
To help stay on the ball with industry challenges, opportunities and trends, we outline 5 important tips for staying on top of industry trends. It is important to try and set aside a few hours each week to get involved with the following activities to help keep current with the market and launch your business with a bang!
1. Follow industry publications, trade journals and magazines
Start a mini research routine to stay informed about details that could help or disrupt your business. This could include reading industry publications and trade journals to learn about new developments or issues in your industry, making frequent visits to your competitors’ websites and social media channels to learn about how they interact with their audience, finding relevant blog posts which are quick and easy to digest and even reading consumer magazines to help you get a feel for the consumer landscape.
2. Keep up to date on social media
Social media remains an important tool for your business to keep track of industry influencers, promote your business as well as monitor other social media accounts for new trends. Therefore, you should customise your platform feeds accordingly and take the time every day to do some constructive scrolling to remain part of the conversation.
You can also use social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn to join groups where you can exchange ideas, information and knowledge with like minded business owners.
3. Network with your industry peers
Your industry peers are able to show you a variety of different perspectives and as a result, help you identify what trends might be coming around the bend that might not have even been on your radar.
Be sure to attend conferences, trade shows, local networking events and even join relevant associations and Facebook groups to see what’s happening in the industry.
4. Observe your competitors
Observation of your competitors can give you a good idea of their product offering and market positioning as well as how they interact with customers which may indicate emerging trends.
Competitor analysis doesn’t have to cost a lot, but as a business owner it is important to ask yourself questions like; “what new initiatives, products or services are they launching? What markets or audiences are they targeting? Is there anything they are doing as a business that I should keep my eye on?”, to keep your finger on the pulse.
Simply by reviewing your competitors’ websites, any customer reviews and their social media channels, it is then easier to understand how your business compares to your competitors and whether you need to fill any gaps to remain competitive in your consumer’s eyes.
5. Talk to your customers
It always pays to talk to your customers, after all they’re the ones who are setting trends and generating revenue for your business. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with them to see what makes them tick and even send out quantitative surveys to gain valuable insights. These could ultimately help shape future trends or at a minimum help your business fill any gaps. Customer surveys and reviews can also help your customer service or sales teams better understand how people are using your products and how to improve your business perception, and there are many free tools available.
Social media platforms and networking tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and even Google reviews can help make it easier than ever to find out what your customers think and want.
Trends change industries every day and can be influenced by a range of factors, however trends differ from fads so you need to think long term when planning. By staying on top of industry trends using the above practices, this will help your planning process continue to evolve and your business remain competitive for success.
This article has been republished with permission from Smartpay.
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