Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tackling market trends

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     Market trends are all around us. Markets are subject to fads and fashions, just like clothing styles. Things are continually changing. Sometimes, a trend develops and the marketplace runs with it. Other times, a trend dies aborning. 

     A good example can be found in the way men dress up for office jobs. While the three-piece suit has been around for a very long time, the vest comes and goes. The jacket lapels get very wide in some years, go narrow in other times. Shirts used to be all white. Today, colorful stripes and checks are everywhere.

     To spot market trends, watch television. Trends in clothing styles are readily apparent. Harder to spot are trends in healthy living, exercise, foods, education--the list is endless. All over television are ads for gadgets--the trend here is not for the gadget but rather for the convenience of distance buying. 

     Example: Lisa put the convenience of distance buying to work in her bakery. She began offering scones, biscotti and brownies on her website and on Facebook. Her target market was people tasked with supplying refreshments at meetings and gatherings in corporate settings. Her sales pitch was simple: "You already have the coffee. Now you have the caterer--anytime, anywhere." The orders came in and Lisa ships out the goodies daily via UPS.

     Education usually means a classroom. But it ain't necessarily so. People are thirsty for information--not the kind that puts a degree on their resume, but the kind of everyday, practical information that helps people get through the day. 

     Example: Joan is a trained and certified nutritionist. She has been trying to establish her business, but attracting paying clients has proved difficult. She gives talks at health foods stores, supermarkets and senior centers. This has resulted in a few more clients for her nutrition sessions--but not enough. When she noticed more and more questions about weight reduction, Joan decided to try that direction. She devised weight reduction programs for adults and children which she promoted on her website and Facebook page. When she scheduled these new seminars, they quickly filled up. Some of the attendees at the seminars became regular clients and referred others to Joan's programs. She has now partnered with a chiropractor to hold demonstrations and events. By re-packaging her nutrition programs as weight reduction and healthy eating programs, Joan has tapped into a market trend that will support her business. 

     Your job in managing your small business is to find the market trends that will help you sail into the future you deserve. Sometimes, it's a matter of re-structuring your own thinking to better align your business with trends in the marketplace. Other times, it's a matter of taking off in another direction. 

     Market trends are never static. What works today will more than likely not work tomorrow. It takes constant attention to stay on top of what works in the marketplace. Now, where did I put that white shirt?