SONY DSCOften on this blog we have talked about how difficult it can be for marketers to keep up with just the business of marketing. There are always new platforms, new techniques, new theories to test, and new ways to approach the business of promoting products to increase sales. However, this is only a part of what marketers must track. The most effective marketers will also track the industries their marketing messages will target, and this can come with its own set of challenges. If you are a marketer working at an agency as we do, you may find that you need to track many different industries in order to best serve all of your clients. If you work within the marketing department of your company, it will be incumbent on you to “read your industry” in advance so that your marketing message can have the greatest impact.

What do we mean when we say that you need to read your industry? Here are some ideas.

How are companies approaching the market?

One thing we do on a monthly basis is evaluate the key trade publications in our clients’ industries. Who is advertising in these magazines? Are they advertising with the same frequency that they used to in the past? Are advertisers who always used to invest in spreads or full page ads now investing in smaller half-page ads? Is the publication itself shrinking so that it resembles a newsletter more than a magazine?

If print advertising is down, where are companies going to get their message out to the industry? Is email marketing on the rise in your industry? What about social media or blogging?

Following these trends is important for two primary reasons. First, it is important to understand how the competition is telling its story, and where. You want to make sure the industry understands that you are still a viable company offering strong products or services. You do not want your competition to dominate any one platform.

Additionally, however, monitoring marketing trends in your industry is important because it can help you stay ahead of the crowd. Maybe social media is not an integral part of the marketing strategy for most companies in your industry yet. Perhaps that means your company could jump in now and grab a leadership position in that arena. If your competitors are not advertising in a key publication much, maybe it’s a good opportunity for your company to advertise aggressively to that audience. These decisions need to be weighed carefully over time, of course. There may be a good reason why other companies stopped advertising in a certain publication or your budget may not allow you to stretch into new areas of marketing. But the first step is to monitor.

What obstacles are omnipresent in your industry?

When you are a marketer, it is essential to remember who you are targeting with your marketing message. You are not targeting other companies like your own. Rather, you are targeting the people who will buy your product or service. Reading your industry means understanding what kinds of obstacles that audience is facing on a day-to-day basis. For example, if your customers consist of industrial manufacturers, you know that there is increasing pressure to be “lean.” You may also know that although the jobs pay well, manufacturers are finding it difficult to fill skilled labor positions in their companies because not as many people are attending vocational schools. How can your marketing message reflect an understanding of those daily challenges your customers face?

What does the future hold for your industry?

Keeping an eye on how the global socio-economic goings-on might impact your industry is also key. Are your customers working with natural resources that are expected to increase or diminish in coming years? Do your customers tend to rely on outsourcing? Do your customers tend to have offices in countries where the political environment is or could become volatile? Monitoring these ongoing changes can help you offer guidance so that the company can be proactive in its marketing. If it looks like your customers are looking to gravitate towards Latin America, preparing to develop literature, ads, and websites in Spanish makes sense so that there does not need to be a last minute rush when the need arrives.

Ideally, all of this industry monitoring would not just benefit the marketing branch of a company. Without segregation of different segments of the company, industry insights could be shared with the sales force, the R&D team, and more. One of the best ways for a company to strengthen its position in an industry is to prove itself to be proactive rather than reactive. One of the best ways to be proactive is to understand in advance where your industry is headed.

Are you monitoring the industries you are targeting with your marketing message? If not, now is the time to start!

Image Credit: via Creative Commons