Identifying Trends In Your Industry

By Christina Suter on Feb 04, 2017 at 09:29 AM in Business Issues
Identifying Trends In Your Industry

With a business climate able to change as quickly as technology, policy, and trends these days allow, it's essential to know what's going on within your industry and to keep up in order to avoid becoming obsolete. A client asked me once, “How do I know what trends are affecting my industry?”

In answering him I sighted a blog post I found by Sales Trainer and Motivational Speaker, Tom Egelhoff. My advice and Egelhoff's post both offered advice to small business owners that I want to share here:

The basics to research when it comes to business and industry for all businesses:

Find out what your customers are saying. Are there products they ask for often that maybe you need to look into carrying? Are they buying certain things from you and others from your competitors?

Check out what your competition is doing. Visit their stores, see what products or services they offer and make note of anything’s that are recurring amongst them, that maybe you aren’t doing.

Ask around the neighborhood; find out what the people who live closest to your location and even the businesses, who may not be in your same line, but maybe share your customers have to say.

There’s no longer any excuse for ignorance, as this digital age puts information at the tips of our fingers, literally.

Knowing what trends and changes are happening in your industry is the best way to remain relevant and in business. Take for example the interior design industry. It used to be that interior designers had to have showrooms for their work, and they were the middleman between distributors and clients. Because of that, they were able to earn their profit from the markups on furniture. Now, since customers can go directly to the distributor and buy without the help of an interior designer, they have shifted to becoming consultants. That change, and being aware of the change, means that those who survived closed their storefront, have their entire portfolio available online, and now charge by the hour and not per project.

Tom Egelhoff says, “Successful military engagements are not based on luck. They are well planned and they rely heavily on intelligence reports.” Meaning, take the time to do your intel. Ask other owners in your industry, but be sure you ask in a manner that ensures they don’t perceive your business as fledgling. The best advice Mr. Egelhoff offered, that I didn’t think to tell my client, was to read. He says that just 20 minutes of reading something industry related every day will put you ahead of your competition. So, depending on your industry, read magazines, ads, and blog posts to find out the trends. Pay attention to the world around you, if you run a fitness center and you want to know if the industry is changing or they are becoming more or less popular, do a Google search and see how many there are in your neighborhood, if any have closed, and if any are coming soon. While you’re online, check out the websites of those in your industry see what they offer, what they don’t offer, and also check out the aesthetics of their pages themselves. If there’s an industry theme in style or color, establish yourself as an expert by changing your site to match the industry’s trend.

Tom also recommends developing relationships with industry experts, and looking at economic indicators. You can read his full post here.