It’s nearly that time of year again. Predictions time! Yay. Urgh. Every January (the really keen ones do it December when every man and his dog is trying their hardest to balance Christmas parties with closing out a successful year and meeting their targets), you are spoiled for choice of which predictions whitepaper, webinar, blog post etc you’re going to be giving your contact details to – in the hope of some magical new insight that nobody else has.

It’s a great leadgen formula for marketers, one I have used many times myself: It’s the start of the year, none of the new marketing initiatives have fully kicked off yet, attention spans are still capable of taking on new information. And when someone tells you they have 7 PREDICTIONS FOR 2017 you hail them as the secret sauce that might give you a competitive advantage – or confirm the thoughts you’ve been having yourself.

The secret of secret sauce

Let me tell you a secret about this “secret sauce”. Nine times out of ten this sauce wasn’t prepared by some Michelin-starred Innovation Master Chef, probably not even their Sous Chef. The agenda – sorry “recipe” – for this sauce is often driven by product teams, PR teams, or a content manager in cahoots with the leadgen manager.

What do I mean? This secret sauce needs a pinch of salt. Or better yet, make your own predictions! You’re active in the market place, right? You’ve not just left school yesterday to work in your industry, have you? Trust in your own knowledge, instinct and skill to know what’s coming in the 12 months ahead. It’s not like January 1st ushers in the Millennium bug and resets all brains and technology. Just because you had two weeks off over Christmas doesn’t mean that things are any different when you come back!

Marketing Psychology

Psychologically, the year-end is great to make you believe that predictions have validity, but practically it makes no difference at all. There isn’t an army of developers who are holding back a stunning new product until it’s been predicted by some marketing pundits on 11th of January. Change and innovation is constant. So you may as well run your predictions in March or September, but you wouldn’t because your target audience is busy then and it’s unlikely you’ll get the same amount of leads signing up to your predictions whitepaper.

“Nine times out of ten” I said earlier about whether experts or marketers are making predictions. That’s because there are some organisations who genuinely have a tremendous amount of research going into their predictions. IDC Futurescapes, for example, are usually published in November, which means they’ll have been prepared several months beforehand. It’s what (in part) IDC does for a living. But other organisations, who may well be experts and leaders in their field, often don’t provide the same level of unbiased insight, despite their central involvement in their specific marketplace.

Rant or Advice?

Just a rant against Predictions? Far from it. A mirror, perhaps, to be held up to our marketing profession. At worst it will take your prospects 12 months to figure out that the predictions published in January are not holding up against the scrutiny of time. How many times have you seen a “Last Year’s Predictions – How did we do?” whitepaper or webinar to dissect how accurate the predictions were you had signed up to?

But more than a mirror, this is a suggestion to change the format from “Predictions” to a practical advice. Imagine you’re buying a new car. Would you rather your dealership sales rep predicted the amount of fuel you were going to use in the next 12 months, or give you some practical advice on how to save fuel?

2017 Predictions: Seek practical advice instead

So when it comes to January and you are flooded with “Predictions”, why not seek out those experts who offer some practical insight instead. Something based on fact and insight. Then use that info to inform and predict your own roadmap for the year ahead. I think you’ll find it works better than relying on someone else predicting the future for you.

All the best for 2017 – I predict you’ll do very well if you use your instinct and grey matter!