Beware of Future P**n

Trend deck season is upon us once again. That time of year when marketers become fortune tellers and predictions about shiny stuff reaches a fevered peak.

Every year at this time, we’re compelled to say something on the topic. Heck, last year we even made a video about it. Why? Quite simply, our unhealthy obsession with change … never changes. Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

  • First problem: there are just too many of these things. Every year, the helpful folks at pull together a bounty of trend predictions and share them on a single web page. Reading them all would take hours. And their list is just a small fraction of what’s out there.
  • Maybe you’re thinking “what’s the harm (besides all that wasted reading time)?” There’s nothing inherently wrong with a bit of forward-leaning speculation. The trouble starts when the shiny stuff distracts you from important things that are less overtly sexy. Like your customers. Or your strategy.
  • Speaking of unhealthy sex appeal, Mark Ritson recently coined a new phrase that sums up the allure of these predictions with a visceral punch: “future porn“. His advice—say “no” to marketing smut and focus instead on the things that aren’t going to change significantly in 2019. Which is actually … most things.
    • Still not convinced that new trends are distracting us from what really matters? Michael Barnett recently spent some time analyzing search trends. His conclusion: “The number of searches for ‘marketing strategy’ has fallen in the past five years even as fashionable concepts have seen explosion in interest.”

    • Then there’s the question of accuracy. Distracting is bad enough. Distracting and misleading is worse. With this in mind, Samuel Scott recently looked back at last year’s batch of predictions and handed out grades for accuracy. The results? Turns out this whole predicting the future thing is tougher than it looks (unless you’re Scott Galloway).
    • If we’re starting to sound a bit like your nagging mother pushing you to eat your veggies—so be it. Which leads us to our closing recommendation. Instead of reading that porn-y trend deck, order yourself a copy of Eat Your Greens, a new collection of essays from the APG designed to help marketers focus on what works instead of what’s trendy. A much healthier way to start 2019.


    Issue #60
    Jan 13, 2019

    Further Reading