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Olympic Torch in Southend

Seize the moment - The Olympic Torch, and following trends

Friday, 6th July 2012
Why trends matter, and how you can be relevant to your customers
Phil Thomas

Today, the Olympic Torch will pass by our office in Southend - and we'll undoubtedly all pile out onto the high street and wave it by. It's raining hard - I'm resisting saying typical British weather because we've had a few sunny days, but it's raining all the same. Why though, am I commenting on the Olympic flame, on a Web Design blog? I've heard the phrase, "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity" so many times in the last week, it brought to mind the idea of fleeting opportunities.

Ok, it probably is a once in a lifetime - but so many things are. I recall an opportunity I was given when I was just 17 years old. I was doing some summer work in a data archiving company, and I'd been designing software to help them manage their data (I started early). The company owner had properties all around the world, and he was just about to ship a lot of items out to Spain for a venture he was setting up there. I, as the resident computer whizz was asked to go to Spain, take photos of all the items, and construct a website for the new venture, all expenses paid for a couple of weeks. I bottled it, to use a term of phrase, and declined.

That event for me has always stuck in my mind as an opportunity that was presented and missed - and has served as a reminder even 16 years later to grab good opportunities with two hands. The Olympic Torch passing through Southend will undoubtedly present some local businesses with opportunity. As I grabbed my morning Starbucks, I made comment that they'd be busy later - and particularly as it's raining I'll be surprised if they aren't swamped with customers. There are also flag and balloon sellers lining the streets - and the cafes will all do a roaring trade. Various colleagues in news and events are busy reporting on the day, and following the Torch along its journey.

As businesses, there's a danger in fast moving times of becoming irrelevant - and it's important to be aware of what current trends may be presenting fleeting opportunity. I saw a sign on the local WH Smiths this week stating boldly, "Fifty Shades of Grey Now Back In Stock". As the current top seller, they are seeing a trend, and capitalising on it. There are many IT companies charging large fees for helping companies comply with the new European privacy laws regarding cookies.

Websites present an excellent opportunity to convey a current message quickly to your audience. In the midst of the London riots, one of the 'fastest moving' products on Amazon was an aluminium baseball bat - and the Amazon site was geared to tell people about it. Automated relevance, allowing customers to see what was currently trending. Twitter similarly conveys what is relevant at any given moment, and presents excellent opportunity to tell the world that you are relevant, aware of customers current needs, and have your finger on the pulse.

As the Olympic Torch passes by and burns itself forever into our memories, remember to stay current, look for trends and don't let good opportunity pass you buy.


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