Trend Spotting for 2009

January 28, 2009
For better or worse, the internet has spawned a host of "experts" who are only too happy to gaze into their crystal balls and predict the future for us. I've been sifting through all kinds of predictions from authoritative and not-so-authoritative sources, and have compiled a few I like.
  • "Social software is going to permeate everything," says Mike Speiser, managing director of Sutter Hill Ventures, a Bay Area venture capital firm. This means developing social networking strategies to embrace consumers AND help employees share ideas more effectively within companies. I can't wait to see outdated intranets replaced with a platform that mimics social networking sites like Facebook.
  • Everybody loves web video. According to Blinkx, an online video search engine based in San Francisco, the amount of video in its index increased by 78 percent in the last year, translating to 32 million hours. Web video is also an excellent way to stretch your marketing dollar.
  • No one can figure out if the "green" marketing trend will continue or if it's dead already. I think we're moving toward a period of even greater skepticism on the part of the consumer, so if you're marketing yourself as a green company, your claim needs to have some merit (see my previous blog post on the topic). And please, no more oil companies asking me to ride my bike!
  • Innovation gets reborn. Times of turmoil present amazing opportunities for growth and change. Hurray for silver linings! According to Steve Strauss of USA Today, both the Xerox machine and Tupperware were invented during the Great Depression. Start dreaming, people!
  • Brands that can demonstrate empathy for the plight of the consumer through a combination of effective messaging and pricing will fare better in the long run. Just make sure the messaging is genuine. Futurist Faith Popcorn explains, "the strategy is simple -- be with them when they're down; they'll remember you when they're up."
If you care to do some gazing into your own crystal ball, please leave a comment below. Further Reading: Ask an Expert: 2009's top small business trends, part 1 (USA Today) Ask an Expert: 2009's top small business trends, part 2 (USA Today) 2009: The New Rules of Engagement (Faith Popcorn's Brain Reserve) Web video will keep soaring, efficiency will rule (San Francisco Business Times)
Alison Harrison

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