The vital importance of a business being in the know

By Henry Brown

You quite clearly have your own ideas about which direction your business should be heading. Well, after all it is your business so you get to choose what kinds of products and services you want to produce. However, something you have to realize is that you don’t control the narrative all the time. You do absolutely control the narrative in your business, but you don’t in the media, in the industry, nor in the sector or even on social media. In fact these are just some of the areas where you are actually chasing what’s going on, what is popular, what the standards are, what the consumers are saying and yearning for etc.

For most business owners the initial feeling when they realize just how little control they have in these areas is one of slow panic. But no need to be afraid; you should be putting your best foot forward to interact with different parts of the business world and the public sphere to close the gap between the direction you’re business is going and what people want. Without question, it will take a lot of time and a lot of hard work, but eventually you will have the means to become a staple in the world with the information and relationships you create.

Industry changes

The world has the biggest impact on our business, in the way that mother nature is all encompassing and very often unforgiving. Take for example how the fishing industry is changing due to climate change. Some fishes that could only be found in cold waters are swimming further and further away from their once natural areas. This means fishermen and their trawlers may have to travel further. Inevitably that means more fuel costs, longer expeditions for the same catch or less, and generally a longer time for the whole process of setting sail, catching and then returning to sell. All because of climate change, an entire industry is having to rapidly change and take on new risks as well as other opportunities. As for your business, you need to have a firm grasp of where your market is coming from and where it’s going. If you make a product that is geared toward the young and affluent, don’t lose sight of where they are heading. Take stock of real wage growth and what the average disposable income is to make sure you are competitively pricing. The demography of your location in the real world is not subject to the online world but these vital pieces of information such as consumer confidence and retail spending per household are paramount to understanding the industry changes that are external.

Industry standards and evolution

Just as crucial to your thriving potential is how your industry is changing from within. What mainly impacts how the quality of products and s standards of manufacturing change is completely up to a few powerhouses in the industry or sector. The techniques that the larger, more successful companies employ will be the ones that stand out the most and the smaller companies will try to follow and replicate. Yet how do you know what the standards are if you’re not going to certain business events where in-depth knowledge can be absorbed by having a talk and mingling with industry leaders?The answer is you can’t, so make sure you’re booking trips to go to the most important industry events and business exhibitions. Also, a little extra reading won’t hurt you, so subscribe to relevant journals in your industry. Biology and technology journals often come out every month. The same goes for magazines with in-depth news articles and interviews with CEOs and other key players are also a good source of reading material. In such interviews, small details about how they assure higher and higher quality might be dispensed.Look for new releases of equipment also. This is a very effective way of seeing where the incoming standards are because tools and equipment that are new and improved will often unlock previously untried abilities. What was not possible before can be made possible with new tools that then make new designs, strength tolerances and much more a reality.

The rapid pace of cultural change

If you thought the technical side of being in the know was tough, wait until you start to dive deeper into culture. Knowing culture is rapidly becoming the ace up the sleeve for many CEOs. Social media plays a massive role in this determination but so do video sharing platforms. YouTube has a Trending Page for a reason. This page is showing what is hot right now and making waves in the public sphere. And why would you want to know this? Customers are far more likely to buy from a business if they feel they can relate to that business personally. Take for example the now classic example of celebritiesbeing the spokesmodels of products such as Justin Timberlake for McDonalds, Beyonce for Pepsi and George Clooney for Nespresso. Stars that have huge followings online bring a cultural aspect to any brand.

Social media websites like Twitter and Facebook are places where you can see what’s going on in the culture just by seeing what hashtags are trending. Your marketing department should be noting every week what were the most popular trends and why. Quite possibly you could see a consistent pattern. Then you can decide whether to use this trend in culture as part of your marketing campaign. Culture changes so rapidly,so as the business owner you have to make sure you’re not falling behind.

Content creation and news

One easy way to stay relevant in both culture and the industry is to pay attention to the news. For content creators this is becoming more and more important as Google now pushes content that answers questions higher. For example, if you’re a travel agency you cannot just create content that is showcasing the offers you have but answer questions about the destinations too. Customers want to know how long a flight from Heathrow to Marbella is, what kind of seafood is there in Napoli, what are the average hotel prices in New York. Technical details like this is what will keep your content more relevant to the changing landscape of SEO.But how will your employees be in the know of what customers actually want to know?

Your employees themselves need to be well informed of the news. Yet sitting down and reading the newspaper or online articles in a circle is not the most productive way to use working hours. Instead you can be alerted of the news and relevant keywords by anSEO skill for agency life. With the Amazon product Alexa you can ask ‘what’s in the news today?’ and Alexa will read out the news in brief to you, which is great for when you’re having meetings with marketing staff on how to shape the content for the day. You can also ask ‘what is my flash briefing?’ to which Alexa will read you many titles to articles. Stop at any point and ask Alexa to go further into a particular news story of your choice and from there you can pick up keywords to include in your blog posts, social media posts and even product descriptions.

Invite customer feedback

One of the simplest things you can do is to invite customer feedback. It might be via an email questionnaire or as part of an e-newsletter. It could also just be by presenting a pop-up of 5 simple questions with a 5-star rating meter. These question should be simple to understand and in the realm of trending subjects, standards of quality, ease of use, etc. Include a small comment box at the end of the questions so if those that do want to leave a more detailed comment can do so. Never be afraid of just asking what your business could improve to make customers happy. There’s no shame in giving consumers an opportunity to guide you.


Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop, he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

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