It is essential to stay on top of industry trends so that you don’t become irrelevant in your profession. Here are the 7 key ways to stay on top of business trends. We’ll focus on practical tips that anyone can follow regardless of what industry you are in and what size your business is.
1. Read Industry Publications
No matter what industry you are in, a good way to keep up with business trends is to read the magazines and newsletters for your business. What new products and services are being offered? What are they reporting in the latest industry white papers? Reading trade journals is truly the best way to stay informed.
2. Ask Your Customers
Survey your customers to find out what they wish your business did. Where possible, ask them what they’ve started doing recently. Ask customer service what customers are saying they’re doing with your product and any new trends in customer demographics. This could give you insight that your rivals lack.
3. Research What the Competition Is Doing
A good way to determine what is best for your business is to determine what the competition is doing so you can plan on beating them. This targeted, in-depth research allows you to identify best-in-class business practices you need to copy to keep up.
Furthermore, it may tell you what you’re doing better than your rivals and what value you offer that they don’t.
4. Network with Professionals
Networking events are not just a way for people in the industry to meet each other, finding jobs, recruiting new talent and perhaps closing a few sales. These events often include professional presentations on what people are doing.
Unlike big trade shows, you’re able to approach people and ask questions, knowing that the answers are going to be down-to-earth and not likely to be a sales pitch. If you decide you want to adopt their technology or change suppliers, they’ll probably tell you who they used.
5. Attend Industry Trade Shows
Industry trade shows are an investment of your time and money. This is where you’ll see the latest technology being sold to your business. You’ll see presentations by manufacturers, suppliers and service providers tailored to your industry on their current practices and products.
If you decide you need to automate a particular function, you’ll be able to compare several vendors at the same event. If you are studying a particular piece of equipment, you can ask the opinion of your peers.
You may learn their experience with the hardware and what they use instead.
6. Check in on Social Media
Read what your customers are posting on social media. What are they complaining about? This may reveal potential products you could provide to them. It could also indicate shortfalls in your supply chain from customer service to technical support.
Social media monitoring could warn you of problems before it hits customer surveys, and it will be the only way to know that customers are having trouble reaching support. You’ll also learn what customers are saying to each other, how they compare your products to the competitors.
You will be able to identify questions they need answered via quality content on your website and how to write comparison articles to convince them to keep buying from you.
7. Study the Statistics
There are several variations of this advice. One is to study your own data. What is the trend on supplier costs or labor costs? This gives you the information you need to plan ahead or take action before high costs cripple your firm.
Study the statistics coming out in government reports and from industry groups. How is your business changing for the better or worse? How is it affected by various legal mandates? How is your customer base changing?
If you want your business to stay in business, you have to watch industry trends and stay on top of them. You need to determine what is going to impact your business and plan how you’ll adapt before it hits so that you aren’t left making desperate corrective measures later.