Five sources to help you track trends

Want to give your business a competitive edge this year and ensure your products, services, innovations and messages are on market?

One of the best ways to get in front of the pack, attract new leads and build loyalty with existing customers is to identify needs and trends before or as they are coming. 

But how do you predict these changes when there is no crystal ball in business? Here are five sources to watch and utilise.

1. Industry News

One of the first steps in identifying trends is to know your industry intimately. 

Subscribe to industry association newsletters, journals and magazines, set Google alerts for keywords you want to watch, sign up for reports and statistics, do industry surveys (this will give you insight into what information they want to gather) and watch what others are doing in your industry.  

Also read books and blogs (don’t neglect the comment area), attend seminars, visit trade shows and research new techniques, methods and offerings. 

2. Identify key influencers

Do you have any key influencers in your industry? They could be a pioneer from within, or an outside influencer, someone who is not directly in your industry but often leads the way in purchase decisions like a celebrity, blogger, reviewer, commentator or sometimes even family member of your potential customer.

If your customers are looking to them to tell them what and where they should buy, you should be looking at uncovering how you can influence the influencer.

3. Get in the mind of your customer

Your customers will always be your greatest source of information and their opinion is the one that counts the most given they are the ones paying you!

With this in mind do up a survey to ask your customers about what they need and want from your products, services and industry. What frustrations aren’t being met? What ideas do they have for new innovations and offerings? Has their product or service requirements changed as a result of business growth or lifestyle changes? Extract as much information as you can to ensure you are meeting the markets demands.

4. Social media 

Anywhere a lot of your potential customers gather and talk can offer great information on new trends, needs and opportunities. This is why social media is so great, it can give you a lot of feedback and sometimes brutally honest insight into what your customers want, or find interesting. 

Be sure to follow relevant pages and groups, ask questions, do polls, share different information to see what sticks and monitor what goes viral in your industry.

5. Web Resources

There are also numerous websites that can also help you monitor popular content Like Google Trends, YouTube’s trend dashboard, BuzzFeed and Mashable to name a few. 

Now to you, how do you identify trends in your industry?


Four tips to push past the point of no inspiration

We’ve all felt the frustration of staring at a blank computer screen or piece of paper when it needs to be full of ideas or content. 

In a time where our intellectual property is so highly valued, it is important for us to be able to come up with new ideas, innovations and content at the drop of a hat even when inspiration is no where to be found. 

So how do you keep your creative juices and ideas flowing? Here are four tips to help you push past the point of no inspiration. 

1. Break it down and plan

While it can save time going from idea right through to completion in one go, don’t feel pressured to do this every time. Break your task into stages. 

Even the simple step of writing down what you need to do, what you want to achieve by it and the framework of how you are going to do it can be enough to get you going. For example, if it is a blog post you need to write, determine your audience, set the topic, write down the main points you want to cover and what you want your reader to know and do by the end of it.

If it is a proposal or pitch you need to produce, briefly outline your target audience, their current frustrations, how you can make it better (with proof) and what they need to do to act. 

Starting is often the hardest part but by taking the small step of planning you not only give yourself more clarity around the project, you save time and make completing the task far easier. 

2. You don’t need to have it all figured out immediately

We often put so much pressure on ourselves to have everything figured out from the start, but ideas are a work in progress. 

If you feel you are stumbling over a word, sentence, section, page or particular task mark where you are up to and move onto the next word, sentence, section and so on. Don’t get so bogged down in perfecting your work that you stop making progress. Remember no one needs to see the planning or working version of your task except you. 

3. Eliminate all of your distractions 

Give yourself every opportunity to focus on the task at hand. This means turning your phone onto do not disturb, unplugging from the Internet and bringing order to your workspace.  

Many of our thoughts can be silenced by the noise and distractions that fill our daily work day. By eliminating those distractions you give yourself the opportunity to think and focus.

4. Step away to move forward 

Sometimes the best plan of action is to give yourself some space from the task at hand. The longer you are in a stressed state the longer your ideas and thoughts will be stifled. To break the cycle you need to change your state. 

Get some fresh air, change your work environment, run on the spot or take a break, do something that will relax you and ease your stress. While you can think you don’t have time, this will clear your mind and get your ideas flowing again.

If you would like help with your copywriting or content marketing, I would be happy to help.

How do you push past the point of no inspiration?


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