How To Become a Marketing Trendspotter

marketing trendspotter

What if you didn’t have to chase what’s next and already knew?

What if you could tap into the zeitgeist, see around corners, anticipate change and jump on “the next big thing” well before the competition?

You can when you’re a trendspotter.

And despite what you may think, the trendspotting ability isn’t for a select few. It can be learned.

Seeing things differently, gauging signals, spotting patterns and becoming that trendspotter you’ve always wanted to be can happen – if you stay curious.

Embrace Curiosity: What It Takes To Really See

Seeing what others don’t isn’t some superpower. Einstein even believed that.

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.

-Albert Einstein

You too can develop your curiosity these five ways:

  1. Challenge what’s true. Change your mind.
  2. Study the world around you. Dig beneath the surface.
  3. Question everything: Ask, what’s that? Why does it have to be that way? How does it work?
  4. Forget the word “boring” is in your vocabulary: Act like everything is exciting. Fling open doors and explore.
  5. Make learning fun: Enjoy the process.

And Fast Company has great advice to develop your curiosity too (but you’re not going to like it).

Get off your screens. Stop browsing. Stop gaming. Break up with your phone.

How to while away the minutes instead? Make lists – to-learn lists.

Jot down anything you run across you find interesting, anything you want to learn more about. Then do your research. What you don’t know now and what you learn later could help you.

Much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.

-Steve Jobs

Or learn by listening. Cue up that podcast or audiobook and expand your mind while exercising, cleaning, cooking dinner.

Or talk instead. Phone a friend and commit to teaching each other something new every week. It’s one way to naturally expand your horizons. (Learning is great. But explaining what you’ve learned is better. All that valuable info sticks in your mind.)

Another way to embrace your curiosity? Spur a conversation. Pepper your friends and family with questions. Ask them their favorite memory, their biggest passion, their favorite hobby.

You never know what they’ll say and what you’ll learn that will spark a big idea once the conversation starts to flow.

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

-Walt Disney

Develop Your Potential: Top Trendspotter Traits

Maureen Ballatori shared this advice on how to improve your foresight In her Forbes article:

Be a Reader.

Read publications in your field and beyond: industry pubs, trade associations, newspapers, magazines.  See what’s being said.

To develop a well-rounded perspective, keep a pulse on what’s happening in major U.S. and international cities. Trends often originate there. Set Google Alerts, subscribe to RSS feeds and more.

Be a People-Watcher.

Where’s your audience? What are they doing?

Visit forums. Attend diverse offline and online events and join groups for the chance to hear the chatter and ask questions.

(There’s a good chance you’ll come across great intel outside your field that’s just begging to be applied to what you do.)

Be Knowledgeable.

Who are your competitors? How are they showing up in the marketplace? What products and features do they offer and what are they promoting? What publicity are they garnering? Knowing this can help you chart your own course.

Be Social.

Listen and learn across social media. What are your brand’s customers talking about? What’s getting shared?

What keywords and hashtags are popular? How do people feel about a certain topic or product? What are they saying they want and need?

You’ve grown. You’ve developed those essential trendspotting traits, but how does trendspotting play out in real life? How can you start to set trends – and not revert to following them?

Let’s count the ways: 10 ways, in fact, all detailed in this comprehensive how-to guide:

1) Predict the Avalanche.

Katelyn Donnelly, an entrepreneur and investor, says it’s about looking for potential avalanches – those small shifts under the surface that will eventually build and force major change. But how do you get the timing right? How do you spot these small shifts anyway, and before everyone else?

Dig into what people are talking about and pay particular attention to what you don’t understand. Look for pain points and complaints too. What do people find annoying? There, as you wade through all that irritation, trends will emerge.

2) Search for Jobs.

Reddit trendsetter Matt Klein suggests checking your competitors’ and innovative companies’ job boards to see employee road maps.

It’s a quick, easy way to see where they’re headed, how they’re planning, and all for free.

3) Check the Patents.

David Mattin, journalist, futurist and trendspotter, suggests looking at tech companies’ recent patents.

What’s recently been filed? This gives you a glimpse at today’s innovators and their imaginations – what they’re thinking about, what they’re experimenting with, what isn’t even on the radar or in the news today but could be soon.

Yet David urges not to think about the tech alone: Think about how the technology can give people what they want.

4) Watch Ideas Take Shape.

Browse Kickstarter and Indiegogo crowdfunding sites and scan for imaginative ideas.

Here, you can see new concepts, products and services that may not exist yet, but eager audiences are working hard to bring them to life.

5) Ask the Youth.

Look to the younger generations.

See what they’re interested in, what they’re consuming, what they’re excited about that could surge in popularity in no time.

6) Look to Retail.

Data is king, and today’s top online retailers have loads.

Spot a new trend wave before it goes mainstream by keeping tabs on Amazon, Walmart, Etsy and the like to see what they’re featuring, what they’re promoting.

Online retailers release trend reports periodically, which also can help you hit upon trends early.

7) React to News.

Timing is everything. Quickly react to current events with a short shelf life. Think like a startup and embrace innovation.

Move fast, get it done, get it out. This is no time for polish and perfection.

8) Drill Down Deep.

Macro trends will reveal micro trends. Want a great example?  Workamajig said when everyone started remote working (macro trend), the demand for web cameras and office chairs (micro trends) rose.

To get ahead, start with a macro trend and investigate all those micro trends you can jump on before everyone else.

9) Examine Content.

Look for clues in your own work.

What content and materials on your own and competitors’ sites are doing well, and maybe not so much?

What topics, materials and formats resonate with audiences best? Do more of that.

10) See Things in a New Light.

Put a twist on current products, services and experiences. Can they serve new purposes?

David Mattin mentioned NFTs as one good example of taking a popular old concept and making it bright, shiny and new again.

David said, “Look, for example, at the way that NFTs are making possible ownership of new kinds of virtual objects that are exclusive and thus serve people’s need for status, in the same way that a designer handbag or expensive car has done in the past. This new expression of the age-old quest for status – and these new virtual status symbols – are an emerging trend.”

CMOs and senior marketers have a lot on their plates and must move at a frenetic pace to keep up, but you don’t have to, not anymore – not when you become a trendspotter.

And when you find the right forward-thinking partner to help you quickly connect those crucial dots, experiment and test, innovate and accelerate right there in step with you, you can get right where you want to be even faster – all calm, cool and collected, all confident and comfortable – in the lead.