According to a recent Hubspot blog post, what's the #1 thing clients look for in their agency partners? It's not results, budget, strategy, or even great creative. According to the Society of Digital Agencies, it is expertise in emerging trends.
There are many tools that can help spot trends such as Google Trends for search, Trendsmap for Twitter, and YouTube Trending just to name a few. These tools use social media and search as their primary sources while other services like Trendwatching use crowdsource with feet-on-the-street to spot new consumer trends. Identifying trends and having the ability to pivot quickly to take advantage of these trends is an ongoing challenge.
Predicting trends can be tricky. The data gleamed from social conversations only tell half the story. Social media will pick up trends that are happening in the present and it has limited ability to predict the future. For example, let’s take a look at online content idea generators, a popular tool used by many marketers and agencies use to help with blogging and social editorial calendars. These tools analyze topics based on social media conversations and predict whether or not they would be successful - but it doesn’t always work. Why? Because it is based on historical data – something at has happened in the past. If one month ago if you entered the term mask or Chewbacca mask into one of these tools, chances are it would have predicted a very low level of success. After the Chewbacca Mom video went viral last week, these tools will likely predict that the topic will have a high level of success.
Predicting trends takes a combination of data, market monitoring, and vision. A good agency is able spot trends because they are continually watching the market as well as talking to your customers and subject matter experts. They are able to spin your story in context of emerging trends, so that your marketing and earned media is continually relevant.
So, how do you find an agency that can do that? Here are five things to look for.
- Can they pivot? - Look for an agency that has a talent pool that can pivot quickly. This is typically a trait found in successful public relations agencies. Teams that secure earned media are very good at monitoring and scanning markets for a news hook and then pivoting a storyline to meet a journalist’s point-of-view.
- Be prepared to pay a retainer -Project work does not lend itself for agencies to gain deep enough market expertise to truly understand your market dynamics. Project work tends to be more process oriented, not necessarily knowledge-based.
- Check out their data tools - Ask the agency to talk about their data tools and methodologies. There are so many tools available on the market today – some are free and some are paid. Agencies that are used to spotting trends use a number of tools and are expert at conducting market research.
- Have broad experience across industries – Agencies that have experience is many market segments can usually recognize how what you do may have implications or similarities in other industries. Sometimes specialists and companies, people that only work in one market, are too narrowly focused or too busy with operational tasks to quickly see the broader implication of changes in the market.
- Do they have experience conducting and analyzing surveys? – With services like Survey Monkey, it is easy to conduct online surveys. The challenge comes in interpreting the data. We recently had a client conduct an online survey and they almost threw away the results because there was nothing that jumped out as an overt game changer. After having us take a closer look, we found that the data uncovered huge gaps in the market’s touchpoints which we were able to turn into a very robust media and marketing campaign.
This is no surprise to us at Red Javelin. We started off offering earned media services in 2001 and added a full suite of content and marketing services in 2008. Whether you are looking for marketing, public relations or both, we have found that companies that rise into leadership positions are adept at spotting emerging trends and are nimble enough to package their story and marketing campaigns in context of these trends.
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