June 5, 2006
Liz published this at 8:05 am
Getting the People Data
It’s easy to get the people data. Just become obsessive. No, I don’t mean get clinical. Don’t be grabbing people off the street and pulling them in under interrogation lights. I mean get steeped in the culture, become a saturation learner. You can see it in trendspotters — Seth Godin, Tom Peters, Prince Campbell – that they live people. breathe what people think. People aren’t just information on paper to them. People are what trendspotters think about, talk about, even when you’re not around.
They do it so much their significant others say, “Honey, don’t make me live it.”
You Gotta Live It
Living it is exactly what trendspotters do. Minds are amazing things. We can take on — “live” — the experiences, hopes, and needs of customers by talking with them, watching them, and actively listening to their expressed and unxpressed needs. Here’s are a few hints to “live it” as a trendspotter would.
- When looking a data, picture a real person and give that person a history. Add choices about everything that person might have to make.
- When attending a focus group, look for the followers and listen for what they aren’t saying.
- When you think you have a great idea, look desperately for three people who will find three things about it that don’t suit their needs.
- Ask everyone you meet — cab drivers, old ladies on street corners, kids selling cookies — what they wish for and how the last product they bought surprised or disappointed them.
- Whenever you’re near the field of your passion look for patterns in how people react to the smallest detail. Include yourself in your observations. What’s your first emotional reaction to things?
- Search for biases that draw people to popular brands and away from unpopular brands.
- Figure out who the influencers are in the field of your passion. Are they the cool kids in school? the fast computer adopters? the A-list bloggers? Then determine how they pick their favorites and how they decide when a favorite has past its “sell by date.”
- Study every idea that takes off to become a trend. Every trend has a life cycles. Find out where it started, how it spread, who were the influencers that gave it voice and legs, and find the point at which it might have died out, but didn’t.
All it takes is imagination, curiosity, and willingness to let go of your ego. You don’t actually have to be the Prince who dressed a pauper. Just take the lesson he learned and use it as a business rule.
That’s the trendspotters’ key. A decision based on any other data is, well, just guessing.
–ME “Liz” Strauss