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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Before engaging in the latest trends, assess your company

9 factors to weigh before investing time and money in viral trends.

Before engaging in the latest trends, assess your company
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]

If you’re thinking about adopting the latest technology at your company or shifting your approach to the business workflow based on reports of an uptick in usage, you should start by looking closely at consumer behaviors and pain points as it relates to your own specific brand and determine the change would fit into your current portfolio of products and services.

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To help, the members of Fast Company Executive Board share a few key points for leaders to put on their checklist prior to moving full speed ahead with a plan of action.

1. DETERMINE CONSUMER PULSE.

Before moving forward, leaders should explore two fronts of the trend: your customers and your current offering. What are the most important beliefs, goals, and perceptions arising among your customers? What are their behaviors and perceptions related to your product category? Understanding these interactions should be a precursor to determining whether to pursue the trend full speed ahead. – Krishna Kutty, Kuroshio Consulting Inc.

2. DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR STAKEHOLDERS.

If you’re a futurist, it’s easy. However, there are several approaches for the rest of us. Estimate the total addressable market. Use case studies, measure the upside, and then evaluate the brand and cost downside. Talk to your customers, advisors, peers, and team internally. If you’re roughly aligned with a mission and brand promise and your convictions are strong, go for it. If there is diffidence, then pass and move on to next. – Michael Becker, GeoSure Global LLC

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3. EVALUATE THE BENEFITS.

An emerging trend should not just be about benefiting a company, but also about benefiting customers directly. We are built by restaurateurs for restaurateurs, so we are constantly listening to both our employees and the larger restaurant community. A successful business isn’t just thinking about increasing its revenue stream but also thinking of ways to make its customers’ journey more simplified, yet interactive. – Christine de Wendel, sunday

4. CONSIDER YOUR CORE VALUES. 

For us, sustainability is always at our core as a media publisher and we had to consider the environmental impacts before entering the NFT space, which is congested with a lot of existing blockchain using the competition-based proof-of-work (PoW) system. It was important to align with alternatives, such as proof-of-stake (PoS), and educate ourselves and our community. – Mo Ghoneim, Arts Help

5. ENCOURAGE TEAM GROWTH.

If you want to engage in a growing business trend, your team needs the right skills and, more importantly, the agility to grow and adapt quickly. This is why it’s important to invest in your teams’ horizontal and vertical growth. The latter is all about building your team’s capacity to own and drive their own learning. It is something we often overlook, though it’s critical for innovation. – Camille Preston, AIM Leadership, LLC

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6. ASSESS YOUR BANDWIDTH.

You need to take an honest look at the resources that you have available and the type of team that you’ve built. If a trend is something major like a new go-to-market strategy (e.g., product-led growth (PLG) versus enterprise), then you may have the wrong staff to move full speed ahead in another direction without making significant organizational changes. Consider where you are today and where you’re heading—is it aligned? – Jacob Warwick, ThinkWarwick

7. DECIDE IF IT’S WORTH THE INVESTMENT.

It’s worth investing in a growing trend if, a double-digit percentage of your customers are asking you to invest in it, and you believe the trend will still be around in three to five years. – Suchit Tuli, Quantime

8. FOLLOW SMB SALES TRENDS.

If you have a broad-based regional sales workforce, look to entrepreneurial small and mid-sized business sellers. We’ve seen time and again that good junior sellers will notice customer demand and chase the opportunities. Once we see sales momentum in one region, we can look for the case studies and amplify them, both through an enhanced focus and increased investment. – Chris Grosso, Intersection

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9. DO SOME TESTING.

Start by conducting some testing to find out if the trend applies to your business. This will indicate if the strategy will be successful on a larger scale. It also provides the proper metrics and instills confidence that it’s a smart business decision. – Kelley Higney, Bug Bite Thing

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