If you are to win at one of marketing’s fundamental rules: “Be first in the mind-space of your potential clients”, you need to be ahead of the trends, and absolutely aware of their implications on their interests and your business.
Trends, of course encompass many different aspects of business and community life — and they go beyond fads, or short-term bursts of energy in a fleeting passion.
Trend-catching doesn’t require you to be the first in the universe to understand and implement your specialized knowledge; rather you need to be first among your market section or segment.
For example, I recall the time a few years ago when sustainability, reflected by LEED certification, became a trend. Some contractors had caught the wave a before everyone jumped on the bandwagon. They continue to have a leadership place — while the followers, who learned and grasped the process required to build to LEED standards, survived by playing catch-up (but that didn’t give them much of a market-leading advantage.
More recently, I learned from Sonia Zouari of CSV Architects about Passive House energy efficiency; a European variant of the North American “net zero” concept, but founded on simple and relatively inexpensive building improvements rather than expensive or complicated energy-generation systems (such as solar panels, and the like.) She had caught the trend before it became wide-spread — and now has achieved leadership recognition in that community.
There are other examples. Some contractors and sub-trades have embraced BIM (Building Information Modeling) and achieved expertise and understanding of the technology, at significant expense and effort. Software costs are declining as the concepts become more widespread, but the market leaders remain ahead of the crowd.
How can you see a trend happening around you? This is a harder question to answer than it is to ask. I think you’ll benefit by listening and watching where people around you suddenly become passionate about something (especially your employees and clients). Keep an eye on technology and the technological leaders. Then don’t be afraid to allocate some resources and commitments to some risky stretch projects.
You may then catch the leading trend before it becomes a story for everyone to follow.