I have been asked to look into my crystal ball – which, as I write this, I cannot touch without disinfecting first – to see 10 years ahead.
So, 10 years hence? I shall, hopefully, be playing much more golf and visiting many parts of the world I have, until now, only seen passing rapidly inside taxis and the windows of well-appointed restaurants used for business ‘meetings’. In short, I’ll be outta here to retirement-ville with a fair wind and a downhill slope.
But the world in which the rest of you marketers will operate (including my own progeny, shortly to be following my calloused footsteps) will inevitably have much of the same, and much new to contend with.
The same? We are creatures of habit. We will do many of the same things in the future as we do now. We will congregate, shop physically (oh yes, we will; although the high street will inevitably change its mix of shops) and spend leisure time together. I believe that 2020 has been a blip in behaviour, no more than that, enforced by greater demons.
But we will forget. We will return blinking into the sunlight. In 10 years we won’t even remember we hoarded toilet rolls!
People will sell, and people will buy. Marketing will exist to influence that exchange. We will understand as much as we can about the buyers and potential buyers and use that information to inform the methods we use create desire of the products and services we seek to sell and the products that are made to be sold.
No change there then – so it has always been – from the Silk Road days and beyond.
But I think two major things will definitely change.
Firstly, marketing technology will get more prevalent. Marketers are fundamentally attempting to replicate a face-to-face sales experience – a one-to-one ambition but from a one-to-many start point.
Technology will start to make the ambition more real. Technology can understand facial expressions and faces themselves, for example. You will be able to be identified wherever you are, and contacted through whatever device replaces the mobile phone. And no humans need to be involved. Behind the scenes, decision engines will decide what to prompt you with, and will react to a smirk, a frown or a conversation appropriately. One-to-one in action through technology.
Secondly the speed at which you grab the attention of a consumer is critical. People’s attention spans are changing quickly. Hollywood knows this with far quicker camera view changes than ever before, Spotify data shows the rapid speed people flick tracks (my daughter doesn’t even listen to a whole song, let alone a whole album anymore!). Content needs to be designed to be digested and delivered at pace.
I believe that rapid-fire content will be assimilated (in a jigsaw-puzzle manner) by technology and delivered at the most ‘seamless’ point in a customer journey that the technology decides.
And this element will require the biggest rethink by the marketing industry. Large content banks will be needed, and there may very well be a point when the machines know more about the consumers than the marketers do.
I shall have a drink to you in your future challenges from the beach somewhere.
Steve Mattey is chief executive of Blueberry Wave