Your job — should you decide to keep working here — is to figure out what our customers want NEXT.
I belong to a networking group which requires endorsements. As I was editing my profile last night, I came across this endorsement from a client.
” . . . Liz can spot an emerging trend before it is even on the horizon. — Blake Education, AustraliaÃ¢â¬?
It’s true I often can. My friend, Chartreuse BETA, is phenomenal at trendspotting, as is our friend, Copyblogger. Scot Karp is excellent at seeing what trends are about to happen. Sometimes it depresses him. Don’t leave out Tom Peters. . . . How exactly do we do that?
What does it take to spot a trend before it takes root and actually happens? What does a person need to watch for? Seeing trends seems to be a factor of intelligence, learning style, and world view. Allowing that you have the prerequisite intelligence — we’re talking business acumen, common sense, and people smarts, not rocket science — the rest is a matter of doing the work and being open to what’s happening. This is lesson 1 on being a trendspotter.
People and Their Patterns
Everything starts and ends with people. If you’re not incredibily interested in the human species, give it up now. Trendspotting is more than parsing information. It’s about people and patterns. It’s about being able to crawl inside how people think and how they feel about things. It’s understanding their unexpressed desires, and predicting the behaviors that result from them.
Most trendspotters were probably different enough as kids to learn how other people think in order to fit in. What was a survival skill — observing others to find patterns — became an ability, a core competency. Granted, the best trendspotters are also highly perceptive. But perception, perceptiveness, is really just being aware of information and patterns — backing up far enough to see the big picture — opening your eyes to that elephant in the room.
How do you start? Watch people and their behavior. It doesn’t matter which behavior you watch. Choose something that interests you personally. Keep an eye out for a week or so to form a habit of finding patterns in behavior. We’ll take it even further than that later.
- Look for one pattern — one tiny one — such as how people open doors.
- When you find a pattern, question it. Do you do the same thing, the same way? Who doesn’t do it? Is it an age, sex, cultural, result of upbringing thing? How do people respond when doors won’t open?
- Ask your friends and colleagues whether they’ve noticed the same things. Hope that they will debate your premises. Debate will make your information stronger or tear it down. Either way you’re building your own concrete foundation of knowledge on human behavior. It’s intimacy with customers at a cellular level.
- Keep your theories and premises where you can review and build on them. For a while you might want to keep a running log of what you notice.
- Remember that when looking for trends in anything the motto is a roadie’s favorite words, Testing 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . constantly testing. Trends are always moving, and the truth about them never stands still. What you know today will not necessarily be so tomorrow.
Every bit of information brings you a little closer to the human species and little deeper inside other folks’ heads. At the end of the five steps up there, you have a good start on the global picture of how people react to opening doors.
Now You Can Be Confident
Once you have enough global information, you’ll start to see a clear pattern. You’ll be able to predict what will happen when the next man, woman, child, or teenager walks up to a broken revolving door. That’s how trendspotters do it. We have plenty of experience with the people that we’re talking about.
Of course, I’ve left a whole lot out. (That’s my tendency not a trend.)
This is going to be a series — but you already guessed that didn’t you? That’s proof that even us out of the box, creative types are predictable — if you get to know us. You’ve got me down . . . only a few more to go.
Spot the trend and you’re on your way to being ahead of meeting your customers needs and desires. There’s no better way to promote your business. What patterns do you see on the horizon?