Why do marketing consultants for small technology companies need to predict trends?
Because, owing to subjectivity and a lack of resources, this is actually very difficult for most technology companies to do in house. Consultants that know their clients well should be able to both predict trends and suggest products and services that align with those trends, but it does require a deep knowledge of each client’s business, a significant degree of trend-predicting expertise and a track record of accuracy.
You can predict a trend by anticipating what will remain of a novelty as soon as it is no longer a novelty. In short, a novelty is the tidal wave and a trend is what’s left on the beach after the tidal wave recedes.
Anyone can recognize a trend once the tidal wave has receded; the trick is to predict what will be left on the beach while the tidal wave is still on the horizon. Those who can do this have a significant business advantage. But being able to do this with accuracy takes practice.
Following are 5 traits of a true trend.
It is obviously useful: While novelties have obscure value, trends are straightforward—it’s easy to think of ways to take advantage of a trend.
It has broad appeal and application: A novelty has a very narrow set of applications, while a trend has nearly unlimited applications.
It is sustainable: Many novelties could evolve into trends except for the fact they cannot be profitably mass produced for very long. An example is biofuel.
It meshes with other trends: According to expert trend spotter Lisa Suttora, most major trends are the result of a process she calls trend blending. This happens when multiple less significant trends merge to form the next big trend.
It has some history: Like fashion, most trends are not new. They’ve appeared in some form in the past. They seem new only because they never appear in exactly the same form twice. What makes them new is the new environment (context) and thus new applications. Blogs are actually a great example.
If you were looking for B2B-friendly social media trends using these criteria 8 years ago, you would have been one of the first adopters of Twitter. There is a constant stream of new opportunities—you just need to know where to look.