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Don’t Be Myopic: Top 5 Ways to NOT Lose Sight of Important Industry Trends

Raise your virtual hand if any of these scenarios have ever resonated with your business:

  • You’ve increased your marketing spend – but felt that you still lost market share
  • Your industry is growing – but your revenue is not
  • Customer traffic is hitting new highs – but conversions aren’t what they used to be

Just about every business will experience unexpected ebbs in growth or even downturns at some point.  When this occurs we naturally dive into our marketing efforts to understand where they may be falling short.  But is that the only thing we should be looking at?  

The economy, consumer behavior and the competition can be leading factors.

The economy

Money

The rate of available credit for U.S. consumers is shrinking. While applications for credit are up, acceptance is down.  In fact, credit card debt in the U.S. is at its highest level ever (now at $830B.)  Even scarier for the younger generations (your customers of tomorrow!) student loan debt is an estimated $1.5 trillion dwarfing credit card debt. This is potentially scary stuff.

Love

Marriage rates, both in the U.S. and globally, have steadily declined to historic lows.  Since marriage is a precursor to many of life’s major fiscal decisions, that consumer dollar is on the back burner for a longer period of time - starting with the more than 300,000 businesses in the US that support the institute of marriage according to research firm IbisWorld.  

Life

The U.S. birthrate is at its lowest mark in more than three decades and there’s no sign of a reversal.  Unless you are in an industry that services infants and children, this likely will not impact your business until it’s time for them to grow up - fewer potential customers!

Death

2016 marked the first year in US history that cremations surpassed burials.  The funeral industry is  having to adjust to their new environment with over 30% of them now providing crematory services.  Even after death consumers are changing their buying habits!

Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom.  Kerry Baldwin, vice president of advertising performance for Web.com for Enterprise, has some helpful hints on how you can be on the lookout for and capitalize on shifting market conditions.

“The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to throw a lot more money at the problem,” said Kerry. “Often, you can make valuable course corrections just by expanding your view of the market, observing what others are doing well and investing more time in listening to your customers. If you don’t already have one, create a very intentional habit of monitoring your key market indicators, if not monthly, at least quarterly.

Not sure what key indicators to monitor?  Here are some to get you started:

  1. Get a fresh perspective: Ask bigger questions and use a (much) bigger lens to examine your forecasts. Could there be a downturn in consumer demand in your industry? A seasonal shift? Assess your competitive set and observe what changes they might be making that is influencing your results.
  2. Are new competitors gaining traction?  Competition doesn’t just mean more businesses like yours out there – it also means alternative product offerings and even pricing models.  What do you do when you’re a stalwart cigarette manufacturer and begin losing customers to “safer” alternatives? You create e-cigarettes or jump on the JUUL bandwagon. Sometimes we have to let our customers lead us in the direction they want us to go! How do you stack up in your industry today vs. two or three years ago?  What are you doing to retain your target audience or potentially create new ones?  
  3. Have your customers changed? The Internet allows us to research multiple providers before making a purchase decision and we can buy unexpected things online like large bags of gourmet dog food, customized medical devices and even fast cars. Want a quickie divorce?  Now you can do that online too. In a show of modern chivalry, husbands save wives money by replacing their vehicle brake pads for them (thank you YouTube DIY videos.) Are buying habits changing for your target customer?
  4. Listen and learn on social media: Are your customers actually talking about your business and engaging with your content? They can provide powerful insights for potential product mix pivots or where to best allocate your marketing budget.  It’s also very important to check out your competitor’s social media pages to see what they and their customers are talking about.
  5. Reviews are really important: How do you rate online?  How do your competitors? Make sure you take the time to encourage happy customers to leave you a review and if you come across a negative review placed by a dissatisfied customer, respond quickly AND professionally – it could cost you new customers if you don’t.
     

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