Every company today has a vision and mission statement that it proudly shares both internally and externally, to explain who they are and what they want to achieve.
Surprisingly – or should I say sadly – few B2C (Business to Customer) companies include the customer in these and yet it would not exist without them. A famous, albeit anonymous, quotation says:
“There are customers without br ands, but there are no br ands without customers” Anon
If you are in a people-facing industry, it is vital to start your vision and mission with clear statements that indicate to all that your customer is at the heart of your business.
Past, present, future:
In many companies the vision and plans are based upon past performance, and forecasts for the future are then calculated based on current sales trends. In today’s fast changing world, the future is less and less like the past, so it is unwise to rely on backward looking measures alone. A better way to prepare your vision and plans, is to start by reviewing your mission statement, which states clearly what the company is aiming to be, and then to see how this fits with the target audiences. If changes are necessary, societal trends can help to identify what they are.
Foresight is an essential part of the planning process, as it will enable a company to assess its vision with the future rather than the past in mind. Society is constantly changing; it is said that a generation today is as little as 5 or 10 years, whereas in the near past it was considered to be 20 years or more. What this means for a company, is that its strategy and plans will need almost constant adaptation, since what worked just a few years ago is no longer relevant for today’s customers.
One of the biggest challenges for an organisation wanting to introduce trend following, and I see no reason for any company NOT to be doing this, is that there is too much choice. There are agencies that are specialised in trend following, such as Mintel, TrendWatching, Yankelovich (now part of the Futures Company), McKinsey’s Global Institute, TrendHunter, Global Trends, to name just a few. In addition, many communications agencies also propose their own trend following services, McCann Pulse being one of the better.
When you are ready to introduce trend following into your organisation, it is vital that everyone agrees on ONE trend following tool for the whole company and then selects the most relevant trends for each business or service. This will avoid duplication of efforts, facilitates exchanges within the business and ensures everyone both speaks the same language and underst ands the trends and their implications for the company in the same way.
Some of the most talked about trends for business to follow at the moment include:
- Aging Baby Boomers
- Heritage, nostalgia, tradition
- Community, crowdsourcing, innovative co-creation
- Making the world a better place
- Health and Wellbeing
Once you have an agreed list of trends you are following in the company, you might think your work is done, but that is not the end, it is just the beginning. Continue Reading