One of the most common conversations I discuss with my clients is whether they should follow a certain trend. Should they be on Snapchat? Or should they even be on social media at all? Or do they need to be a part of exhibition X?
The big question is how as a company, or as an owner of a business, should you decide whether the latest fad is worth following? Will it enhance your brand or will joining along with everyone else lose your company its differentiating factor?
A good starting point is to examine whether adopting the newest craze, such as having a social media presence, would actually strengthen your brand. Would it attract new customers and, most importantly, is it relevant? It wouldn’t make sense, for instance, for a sovereign wealth fund to have a presence on a social media website like Instagram, or even Snapchat; but LinkedIn could be useful, as it would help fund managers connect with institutional investors and share their latest news or reports. For a retail bank, however, Instagram could be a useful way to promote new products and launch competitions.
When something new first emerges it can be hard to evaluate how it will affect your business. Nevertheless, you do not want to miss out on an opportunity that could help your company expand in new ways. Check whether the latest craze is affecting the whole business sector or only parts of it? Are your competitors on board with it? Again, consider the example of social media. It has been adopted industry wide, affecting most businesses for the last 10 years. GCC fashion blogs that embraced social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter when they first emerged leveraged it the most, and have grown to become representatives of major fashion brands. Some have even turned their sites into money-generating platforms.
So when you do evaluate a new trend or technological advancement, you also have to consider how your marketing message, your offering, and even your customer service will change once you adopt it. Here are some aspects to consider during the process:
• Maintain constant contact with your clients
You may think that a new advancement will result in the business expansion you are looking for. But your customers may not agree. And what they think is just as important; at the end of the day, they make or break your business. As part of your trend evaluation process, involve your customers. Conduct focus groups and seek their opinion. What do they think? Would they find value in you adopting something new? If you are planning to have a social media presence, then find out which channels your target market tunes into. What do they want to know about your products or services?
• Stay true to your identity
Every brand has a set of beliefs and ideas at heart, which are reflected through its products and services. As your business evolves, and you adopt different methods, don’t lose your brand’s identity along the way. Take a look at the American make-up brand, Bare Escentuals for example. Though the brand has evolved, adopting a new digital presence and tuning in to the channels its customers are, it still held onto its core principle – manufacturing natural make up products that are hypoallergenic, harmless to the skin, yet still provide what customers look for.
Any trend – big or small – must be evaluated carefully to see how it affects your business. It may provide an opportunity to develop your brand but as you evolve, some things need to remain constant. Remember, what your customers believe in is just as key when you are considering something new, and their habits and evolving behaviour will help as you transform your messaging, your products and services.