Macro trends don’t matter so much

How many people will be using the internet in 2016?

Are women more likely than men to choose the brand of potato chip the family buys?

What percentage of the world's population will speak Spanish in a decade?

Everyone's talking about mobile, it's the next big thing…

If you're General Electric or Yahoo or a presidential candidate, long term trends might matter. If you need not just a plurality but a majority to make your numbers, then by all means, pay attention to these tectonic shifts.

But most organizations need a dozen or a hundred or a thousand new customers, not thirty million. Most non-profits don't need every new foundation or big donor, they just need a few.

When you pay attention to the big trends, you're playing a numbers game and treating the market as an amorphous mass of interchangeable parts. But that's not what your market is. The trend, for example, is for people to buy and read virtually no books each year. As an author, that doesn't matter one bit to you, of course. What matters are the 100,000 people who might make your book one of the most popular of the year (that's only one out of every 3,000 people in the country).

Micro trends matter more than macro ones, but most of all, people matter. Individual human beings with names and wants and interests.