Hate new-year predictions? Who cares? Here are mine!


At this time of year, you can’t move for articles pontificating about what will happen in the next 12 months. But if you can’t beat them, join them.

It’s that time of year again. No, I’m not referring to the endless discussions of the John Lewis Christmas campaign, or, for that matter, having a tad too many refreshments at the office party and regretting it the next morning.

No, none of that. I mean the flood of posts, articles, blogs and LinkedIn updates giving you predictions on what will happen next year. The internet is awash with headlines about what you should look out, whether it is marketing trends, stock prices or even oil price forecasts.

Of course, the beauty of such forecasts is this: not one person will ever phone the authors of such clickbait content a year from now and point out where they were wrong to prognosticate that the machines were going to take over the world, or that ‘this year is the year when (insert failed technology or media platform of the last 10 years) finally goes mainstream’.

But, enough of being a curmudgeon. If you can’t beat them, join them. So, here are the Secret Marketer’s top four forecasts for next year – and one more with a twist:

1. Value will remain elusive

New products and services that create incredible value and/or a great experience for customers – be it a new restaurant or a new airline – will still be talked about with an air of awe and incredulity. Why? Because it is so rare.

We are so used to brands extracting value or reducing value (smaller Toblerones, anyone?) that it is a surprise when we see the creation of real, no-compromises value. Want to be have a great brand launch next year? Well launch a great product, not a product of incrementalism.

2. ‘The death of…’ articles still won’t die

Reading any article announcing ‘the death of…’ will be a total waste of time and brain power. I should say that I like seeing headlines such as this, as they telegraph me to me in advance that this is an article that is written by some vendor with something to sell or an axe to grind. And that I would be wasting precious seconds of my life reading it.

3. Good teachers will help you thrive

Marketers must seek out the real answers, the right teachers and experts to work on their craft. In the noisy world of marketing, rarely does a good idea interrupt us. Marketing success comes toward those who search for progress, not the easy answers or the snacky soundbites of 140 characters.

4. Your opinion will be irrelevant

If this year has taught us anything that could be useful for next year, it is this: don’t believe yourself, your opinion or your own frame of reference. The anchoring effect, framing, overconfidence bias, regression to the mean, the halo effect and, basically, thinking that your opinion reflects everybody else’s are traps that no professional marketer should fall into.

When you hear the words ‘well, I think that…’ come out of your mouth, you are just one step away from post-truth marketing.

5. The future will be just like the past

So what’s the forecast with a twist? Simple: I could have made the same one at the start of last year – and the year before. As the scientist Niels Bohr putatively said, prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.

But, really, it’s very easy to forecast what will happen next year, and indeed every year. Just use the following four words: ‘opportunity mixed with challenges’. That’s it. See you next year.


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