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  • Writer's pictureChristopher McHale

Trendspotting is for followers, not leaders.

There's a whole spot-the-trend industry out there. In marketing, figuring out where the market is going is a house-buying, fancy car-leasing career choice. If you get it right you're a marketing god. But it's a guess. Always.

The real trend comes from nowhere. No data set. No graph. No account planning, market research. It comes up from the ground like flood water after a hurricane.

Marketers, broadcasters, media programmers love trends. When they find one they hook every decision to it, like lashing a body to the mast in a howling sea. We found our hook! Beat it into the ground! Ride that baby!

The hack trends are things like Baby Boomers, Millennials, Hip-Hop - find it, name it, repeat. It's one reason marketing is so - beige. You need to retro-fit every idea into a pre-determined set of labels.

And yet.

The breakthrough marketing ideas ignore all that and goes for the real deal. But those ideas are rare, so very rare. Not because there's a lack of talent to create them, but there's no will. It's risky business, man. It can kill careers fasters than you can say, quick, cya.

I'm not going over the history of marketing leaders who set trends as opposed to following them. But you know who they are. They're famous. They're marble busts in the hallowed halls of marketing college.

How do you become one of those gods? Go swimming every day in the pop culture stream all around you. Dive. Get into the mud. Walk the streets at 3AM. More than anything hone your gut, your instincts, your compass, your sense of real and bullshit and set your sights dead ahead. You'll sniff the trends on the wind. They're elusive, but they're there. Trust yourself, because you could fuck up, but so what if you do? It's the only way to breakthrough.


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