Researching industry trends online is a great way to identify new trends for your clients as well as following the current popularity of trends. This information will be invaluable to your current or future clients and show that, as their sales rep, you understand the types of products they should carry. If you have visited their stores as discussed in our “What is Most Important of All the Forgotten Selling Skills” you will be fully prepared to help your clients sell more.
Where Can You Look to Find Industry Trends?
The main areas to focus your online market research are:
- Company Websites
- Online Industry Publications
- Google Trends
- Facebook Groups and Fan Pages
- Instagram hashtags
- YouTube channels
Primary Research - Company Websites
Bookmark your customers’ websites, potential customers and your customers’ competitors. These sites will provide regular updates to their customers and you can follow what these customers feel are industry trends. These are your primary way to research and track information. Before visiting a client, it is important to check their website for their latest news or blog posts.
Online Industry Publications
Search results for magazines
Use a search engine and type the industry and “magazine” afterwards. You can also search for keywords related to your industry with “magazine’ after the industry name. Don’t check just the first page of your search results. This first page will have a lot of advertisements and/or company sites. You want to make sure you can find not just the larger magazines but smaller ones that may not have the prime search result rankings and are found on later pages.
Distributors such as Apple+, Amazon and other magazines will give you access to a variety of magazines within and, extensions of, your industry. These magazines will be automatically downloaded to you and you can put systems in place to notify you on new issues. Your time is valuable so avoid spending time checking for new issues. Many of these online distributors will let you view multiple magazines for one monthly flat fee.
Google Trends is a search engine for market trends or search topics trending. There are two primary ways to use it. First, from the Google Trends homepage find out what the general trending topics or keywords are. You go narrow and deeper from the homepage toward the topics or industries you are interested in.
Keywords for the win
The second, more direct way, is to type in the actual keyword you are looking for. Sometimes Google Trends will make a suggestion that matches your industry. However, if the trend results say “failed to find enough information” the keyword chosen was not the most popular term and doesn’t generate enough search traffic to provide you the data you are searching for. Use similar keywords, or go more broadly, to find results and then narrow down by trend suggestions.
When Google Trends gives you information this information will become a trend line over time. You can then add additional words to compare the keywords and see how they and their relation to each other change over time. There are filters that allow you to change the time span to be studied.
Facebook Groups and Fan Pages
Facebook Fan Pages
The same keywords you used to find publications and websites can be entered into the Facebook search bar. Click the filter to see what groups or fan pages come up. Join the ones with large followings. Many times you may have joined a group where there is a lot of just talk and nothing related to the industry news. If a group is just talking about topics not related to your industry exit the group and find another.
When you find a great group there will be lots of posts with amazing material. These groups also often have members that really want to help others out so multiple people will answer questions posted. You can get great insight when you find these people. Check the profiles of people who post regularly; you may find they are a part of companies you are interested in or can lead you to those companies.
Search Instagram for those #hashtags that are popular for your industry. Your Instagram marketing research process will start with general hashtags and then, from images you find, you can find the narrower hashtags associated with them.
Write down the hashtags that interest you. You can follow the influencers and companies that interest you, but your feed will get quite full. The hashtag list lets to you maximize your time by searching out the market trends you are interested in.
Pinterest is the largest visual search engine on the internet. The same keywords you used for your Google search can be applied here. What you will see are “pins” that visually represent the keyword you entered. These pins can lead you to blog posts, company websites and products related to that keyword.
Keywords that pull up very few results could be up and coming trends that are just starting to heat up. You may also find keywords or topics related to your own that you can enter in Google Trends and compare the volume of searches over time.
Everyone knows YouTube and the rabbit holes you can go down, wasting valuable hours in your day. Use YouTube as an educational channel. Search for those channels that are influencers in your industry.
Save time on YouTube by subscribing to the channels you like and then clicking the “alarm bell” icon. This is will make sure you receive notifications when the videos that are most important to you are posted. No alarms? Then move on to other value creating efforts for your clients to make yourself a better sales rep.
As a tie back to company websites many company websites will have a YouTube icon on their homepage. Clicking through this will take you to their YouTube channel. Here you can see how actively the company posts videos about their newest product lines or company news. It also will bring up similar videos in the side browser space which may introduce you to a new lead or trend.
Build the Sales Skills Others Don’t Even Know to Succeed
There are many types of market research that can be done online. By familiarizing yourself with the latest industry trends and client and competitor information you will stand out from the other wholesale and manufacturing representatives who may call on your client or potential clients.
Increase you selling skills by doing what others are unwilling to do and you will stand out from others from the very first call.