Most marketers I talk with have the next year planned. Really ambitious marketers might think ahead five years. Jon Wuebben has a 13-year-plan (and he thinks you need one, too).
I invited Jon to Marketing Smarts to discuss his book, Future Marketing: Winning in the Prosumer Age. The changes we've seen in marketing over the past decade have completely transformed the industry, but those shifts are nothing compared with what he predicts is coming: the rise of the prosumer, the rapid development of artificial intelligence, and a flattening of the traditional corporate structure.
Here are just a few highlights from my conversation with Jon:
No matter what your company sells, you're in the business of creating experiences (03:36): "We look forward to experiences, whether it's a tradeshow conference or going to Disneyland with the family or going out to a really nice restaurant. Experiences just have a cachet to them. Now and especially in the future, buying a product or service won't be enough. We need something more. If you're a company out there that's just doing products or services, you're going to have a to find a way to create an experience around your products or services because that's what prosumers are going to want to buy from you."
Technology will change everything (and that's not necessarily bad) (05:40): "It's important to understand that all these changes, all this technology improvement, it actually helps us to be more human in a way, and connect easier and more efficiently with other people to engage in the human experience. The whole 'dystopian future,' and people talking about all the bad stuff that's going to happen, how we're going to be more disconnected—I really don't buy into any of that. I really think that the future is more good than bad, and there are a lot of good things that are coming."
You have to love your customers (for real) (17:34): "If you're in business today, you absolutely 100% have to feel comfortable with the customer and want to engage with them, period. If you don't, then find something else to do because that's what business is all about nowadays, especially with the Millennials and Generation Z. That is a big part of their ethos.... They want to know that you're passionate, you're authentic, you care about your products and services and your company, and there are still a lot of people in corporate America that aren't there yet.... Moving forward, that's going to be more and more important."
Invite creative people to the table (21:30): "The future marketing department's going to look very different because you're going to need a whole lot more creative people than you have now. I don't mean just having artistic people and your Web designer, and people that are doing functional jobs and roles. I mean giving creative people a seat at the table. This is how you get innovation at your company.... I think a lot of companies are scared to give these interesting, creative, introverted people a seat at the table because they don't know what they're going to do...but that's where the good ideas come from nine times out of ten.... Every marketing department's going to need a lot more of these creative people to actually make the decisions and be innovative."
Jon and I talked about much more, including influence marketing and the power of personalization, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
Intro/Outro music credit: Noam Weinstein.