Image source: Pexel
Don’t you dream of starting a viral trend overnight, like it was with fidget spinners? Or creating a “trademark” Santa Claus like Coca-Cola?
I wish I could say there’s an easy way to do that (hint: no, there isn’t).
The good news is, if you look close enough, you can see a vague scheme, or an algorithm; a little something that most trendsetters have in common. For the sake of clarity, let’s call them “rules”. Remember, when implemented, they don’t have to come in the given order.
Rule #1 – Look out for the top-tier innovative technologies or media. Not all innovations stick, but you only need to hit one major wave at a time – and you’ve got a jackpot.
The birthday of the Internet is believed to be January 1st, 1983, when ARPANET adopted TCP/IP. Fun fact: the first-ever spam email was sent by DEC (now HP) in 1978, almost five years before that. While the web was still a space that only a few people had access to, it already seemed like a good idea to Gary Thuerk, a marketer from DEC, to use it for advertising. The resonance within the tiny web community was huge. Given that marketers chase attention and visibility, count the goal 100% achieved.
You’d have all the reasons to call me insane if I claimed that investment in innovations always pays off. It doesn’t. Tons and loads of very promising innovations die out as a financial failure. For instance, before Imax and 3D’s, there was a Cinerama. Given that it produced an unprecedented visual experience, many investors thought of it as the movie of the future. One of these investors was The Stanley Warner theater chain (which originated as a Warner Brothers branch), who immediately remodeled their facilities to fit Cinerama standards. Should the filmmaking industry have started to mass-produce Cinerama movies, The Stanley Warner would have won its prize as a trendsetter among movie theaters. But when was the last time you went to Cinerama? Exactly.
The principle “don’t put all eggs in one basket” fully applies to investing in innovations. A small, but timely investment can give you massive long-term benefits. Even the professional investors can’t do a fully accurate estimation of how well a project will do in just two years. Hence, making use of all new technologies available on the market by splitting the marketing budget between them is a sure way to go. A few of them are very likely to go viral, and you only need to hit one to get to the top and let the rest of the industry follow in your footsteps.
Rule #2 – Brainstorm the established convictions.
Shortly before his retirement, J. Walter Thompson hired an executive with a strong academic background to run his advertising company. By 1900’s, JWT has already nearly monopolized magazine advertisement in the United States, but the founder of the company made an unprecedented decision for his time and age. Instead of hiring someone experienced in “the field”, he went for a scientist. That’s how JWT discovered a new effective way of demographic research of a target audience. On top of that, in 1915, the company hired a behavioral psychologist to make better use of the data they found in course of their massive research held in 1912.
You want more? Alright! The concept of “sex appeal” was first implemented by that very same company, JWT, as late as in 1920’s. Before that, erotization of the female body for the sake of making profit simply didn’t exist. Needless to say that JWT didn’t need to invent sex or gender. There’s no sure recipe for using this method, except “do what you do best, and think of how to put that to use”.
Rule #3 – Watch the sales reports and reconsider your focus product, target demographics, prices and advertising approach at least once every 5 years.
Remember, from 1990 till 2000 computer sales went down, and software sales went up, something the stakeholders couldn’t have predicted. Around the same time, mass-marketed mobile phones and mobile services emerged and peaked within less than a decade beating all odds. They’re not going anywhere now, but those, who’ve failed to consider them ten years ago now have to pay bigger money for a smaller effect and zero hope for being a trendsetter.
As for PC’s, we all know that they’ve been down for a while, and very unlikely to be going up anytime soon. PC’s are nowhere near extinction, obviously, but the market doesn’t need a whole PC industry right now – the demand is quite low. Laptops, tablets and cell phones are cheap, yet functional replacements. This tendency has been going on for a while, so the companies that haven’t already switched their focus from PC to other gadgets can’t really hope for major visibility, regardless of how cool of a trend they create. The pool is simply too narrow.
Hence, watch out for the moment, when it’s time to let your trend die, and move on to a new trend.
None of these rules guarantees an instant success or an evergreen trend that’s going to live for decades. But if you stick to them, your chances of wasting a bunch of time wandering in the dark without any results will decrease dramatically.
Good luck to you and the trends you’re about to start.
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